Further to my post about the ancient literary sources for Santa Claus – or St Nicholas of Myra – I have begun to look at getting translations made. The first up is the “letter” of Methodius to Theodore, Methodius Ad Theodorum, BHG 1352y, which appears in Anrich vol. 1, 140-150 and in a revised version (with punctuation and some mistakes fixed) in vol. 2 546-556.
So … what is this text? Has any translation ever been made?
The text is preserved in Vaticanus graecus 2084, a 10th c. manuscript. I don’t know if it can be found in Migne? Or if a Latin translation exists?
Here is what I was able to discover. I found pages like this one, from which I learn things like:
The oldest encomium — praise in honor of St. Nicholas — is preserved from the beginning of the eighth century. It was delivered at his grave site by St. Andrew of Crete (d. 740), who called him a “pillar and support of the Church” (P.G. 97, 1191-1206).
Jean Blacker’s book on the hagiographical works of Wace incidentally contains quite a bit about sources for the Vita of Nicholas of Myra, and points me to a book by Gerardo Cioffari, S. Nicola nella critica storia, 1987. This apparently discusses Methodius ad Theodorum as “the narrative encomium” on p.75-77 and gives it a date of 817-21 AD. The Amazon page suggests that Cioffari has written a lot on Nicholas, indeed. A German site exists for Nicholas of Myra here, but I could not find anything on our text in it. More interesting was an Italian Encyclopedia site here, which said that Cardinal Pitra (who worked with Migne) was interested in the text:
Pitra (pp. 353-355) elenca trentotto scritti di M. di cui si ricordano: Encomio di s. Agata (Bibliotheca hagiographica Graeca [=B.H.G.], I, n. 38; Stelladoro); Vitadi Eusebio Alessandrino (B.H.G. e Novum auctarium B.H.G., n. 635x); la già citata Vita di Eutimio di Sardi (Gouillard, 1987), che pare risalire al periodo della sua reclusione a Sant’Andrea e quindi all’inizio dell’832; Vita di s. Nicola di Mira (B.H.G., II, n. 1362y; il cosiddetto Methodius ad Theodorum: testo in Anrich), scritta probabilmente per Teodoro Cratero, tra l’821 e l’838 (Ševčenko, Hagiography, pp. 17 s.); l’Encomio in s. Nicolaum ep. Myrrensis, collocabile intorno all’838-840, attribuito a M. dalla più antica tradizione manoscritta (ma alcuni preferiscono restituirlo a Basilio di Lacedemonia).
Which gives us a couple more references. In fact, I see, in BHG II, entry 1362y does not exist in my copy of the 3rd edition. I wonder where it is hidden?
It’s a reminder that, despite all the material online, there are vast swathes of knowledge that remain obstinately offline.
- G. Anrich, Hagios Nikolaos, 2 vols, Leipzig, 1913. This is accessible at Hathi Trust and there is a copy online elsewhere.↩
- A. Bryer, J. Herrin, edd. Iconoclasm (Birmingham, 1977), esp. I. Sevcenko, “Hagiography of the Iconoclast Period,” 113-131 [= Ideology, Letters and Culture in the Byzantine World, (London:Variorum Reprints, 1982), V].↩