From my diary

Oops.  I was just preparing the Italian text for the next chapter of Eutychius when I noticed that it was chapter 14; while my posts for the last five chunks were supposedly “chapter 12”.  They should, of course, have been headed “chapter 13”.  I have gone back and fixed the headings.

The mistake was easy, because the Italian translation does not contain running headings, so that, once in error, I had no reason to examine the chapter heading again.

I remember looking at British Library Additional manuscript 12150, which is a Syriac codex written in 411 AD.  This has running headings throughout, in the hand of the scribe.  It is a pity that the Franciscans of Cairo, who printed Eutychius, were unable to do the same.

I shall press on with Eutychius, although I feel rather ashamed of translating an Italian translation into English, and doing so badly since I don’t know Italian and rely on Google translate plus a smattering of knowledge acquired along the way.  But the result still makes Eutychius more available than it would be otherwise.  With luck someone qualified to do so will take the Arabic text and make a proper translation, and make it accessible online.

The next chunk of Eutychius looks rather theological to me.  It is concerned with something of the utmost importance to Eutychius and his fellow-Melkites, a minority in Egypt – the council of Chalcedon, at which the monophysites were condemned.  I hope that I can make sense of the text, even though I only have a sketchy idea of the theology.  If not, I hope that you will forgive me.

Today I heard from a correspondent, asking me about the online translations of John Chrysostom’s Against the Jews; or Discourses against Judaizing Christians, as the Catholic University of America Press somewhat presumptuously calls them in the Fathers of the Church vol. 68 translation by Harkins.  Of course I directed him to that volume.  I believe that a critical edition of the text is in progress, in Germany – the discoverer of most of sermon 2, Wendy Pradels, is involved – and when this is complete then a fresh translation will be called for.  Considering the importance of the text, one can only hope that efforts will be made to make that new translation available online.  There really is no purpose in publishing such things offline any more.

It’s been a while since I myself have commissioned any translations of ancient texts.  At the moment I am at home, waiting for another contract.  It would be unwise to agree any fresh outgoings until the money tap is turned on again.  Wish me luck!  Once someone agrees to employ me, then I will simultaneously have less time and more money.

It looks as if the general election in the UK is interfering with the UK contract market, just as it did in 2010.  I suppose, logically, that few corporations would commence an expensive project now, when they could wait a month and know what kind of regulatory environment they will face.  So they do not recruit, or sign contracts with small businesses.  So the delay is something of a test of patience.

In the meantime, I can do a few projects myself!


4 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. Best of luck with the theology of the Council of Chalcedon. There was a time, when I was writing The Martyred Church, when I could just about tell you how many natures, persons, wills, energies and hypostases there were in the Incarnate Christ. Now, alas, it’s all gone again. I remember Sebastian Brock, whose cunning schema in the 1990s miraculously returned the Jacobites and Nestorians to Christian orthodoxy, insisting that there was an enormous difference between ‘out of one nature’ (miaphysite, well done thou good and faithful servant) and ‘in one nature’ (heretical monophysite, absolutely beyond redemption). The beauty of Sebastian’s formulation was that everybody still alive (Jacobites, Nestorians, Maronites, etc) became orthodox except poor old Eutyches, condemned by all right-thinking bishops on both wings of the christological debate; and as he was dead he couldn’t complain. I think Sebastian even had a soft spot for Nestorius himself, that appalling heresiarch …

  2. Interesting – thank you.

    And interesting about Sebastian: I was unaware that he had done some “engineering” in this area. Well done him, if so.

  3. His key contribution was an article in the John Rylands Library Bulletin, readily available online nowadays:

    Brock, S. P., ‘The “Nestorian Church”: A Lamentable Misnomer’, BJRL, 78, 3 (1996), 23–35.

    I can’t offhand remember, but he may have used in this article the term ‘henophysite’ rather than ‘miaphysite’, now the preferred term of esteem for orthodox ‘one nature’ Christians. It’s complicated, I know, but you just need to remember, rather like the animals in George Orwell’s ‘1984’: ‘miaphysite, good: monophysite, bad’. It’s interesting how quickly these terms bed in. I cannot see the word ‘monophysite’ carelessly deployed these days without an internal shudder.

    Sebastian’s point, of course, was that everybody in 451 was talking past each other and ascribing to their opponents positions which they did not actually hold. Nowadays, with hindsight, we can see that the Jacobites and Nestorians were both orthodox really, and shouldn’t have been attacking each other. (See the ‘History of Rabban Hormizd’ for the account of a 7th-century Nestorian commando raid on the Jacobite monastery of Mar Mattai by ideologically-committed monks. The raiders successfully destroyed some of its priceless ‘Severan’ manuscripts, a triumph celebrated unctuously by the Nestorian chronicler who recorded the deed.)

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