From my diary

I’ve commissioned translations of Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns against heresies 23 and 24, to be done by Christmas.  Looking forward to those!  Together with hymn 22, they form a group against Marcionism.

I’ve now received by ILL To Mega Biblion, on the presence of end titles and the like in ancient papyri of Homer.  It catalogues nearly 60 examples.  It’s going to take some careful reading.  But one interesting snippet, if I remember it correctly, is that end-titles as such seem to appear only from the 1st century B.C. onwards.

This evening I had intended to translate another chunk of the Life of Mar Aba.  But … I can’t find the .rtf file with the source!  Maybe another night.

On a different note, I read a rather sensible blog article at The Gospel Coalition on the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Much more exciting, tho, was an article over at the British Library manuscripts blog (whose evil comment system erased an enthusiastic comment that I left). Julian Harrison has an interesting piece on the 12th century catalogue of the books of Reading Abbey, found in Ms. B.L. Egerton 3031:

The book has a remarkable history. It was discovered in 1790 in a bricked-up chamber by a workman who was demolishing part of a wall at Shinfield House, near Reading, home to Lord Fingall (whose family sold the manuscript to the British Museum).

How the cartulary came to be there remains a mystery — was the hiding place at Shinfield used by a Reading monk when Henry VIII’s followers ransacked the monastery, or was it buried in the chamber at another time?

The item then was:

…. purchased by the British Museum in 1921 using funds bequeathed by Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater (d. 1829). …

The library catalogue only takes up four pages, but it lists about 300 books according to subject with the heading in red ink, Hii sunt libri qui continentur in Radingensi ecclesia (These are the books contained in the church of Reading). It begins with four Bibles, each comprising three or four volumes. Next were glossed books of the Bible, one of which is probably British Library, Additional MS 54230, a copy of the book of Judges with other texts. One of the largest categories contains the works of the Church Fathers, particularly St Augustine, for whom 18 volumes are listed. Following these are a small collection of classical texts and, lastly, liturgical books, such as breviaries, missals and antiphoners for use in the daily devotions.

There is an image of folio 8v (although not nearly large enough: the full size item is here), which is the beginning of the catalogue.  I wish that the other three pages were also online!!  Only the last three entries are by Augustine: the first two on Psalms and Canticles; the other de unitate dei in uno volumine.

I wonder what else Reading held?  How I wish these things were online!  It is fascinating to dig through the remains of medieval libraries.  Which patristic texts were there?  Which classical texts?


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