From my diary

I’m still working on my post on the use of Matt.27:25.  It is really interesting, looking up all these unfamiliar passages in patristic writers.  Today I translated most of a question by Ambrosiaster; and several sections of homilies found in the Patrologia Graeca.  I can’t translate from Greek – my training as a scientist did not give me that – but I can translate the Latin side alright.

In fact I’ve been bring up the PG in PDF form, and then using Abby Finereader 12’s “Screen reader” utility to mark up a section of text and OCR it.  These days Finereader supports Latin – what I would have given for that, 15 years ago! – and does a reasonable job except when the quality of print is just atrocious.  Then I can pop the result into QuickLatin, and into Google Translate (which also does Latin, quite reasonably); and between the two I can produce a rather decent translation of modern Latin into English.

I’m still seeing the same pattern in the quotes; that the anti-Jewish edge only really appears in the post-Nicene period.  In fact it doesn’t appear much.  When we consider that the Ante-Nicene Fathers library consists of 5,000 pages; that the selected Nicene and Post-Nicene writers in the same series are twice that, and that the total volume as far as 500 is probably ten times that, then we come up with around 50-60,000 large, double-column pages of text.  Out of which immense volume, the total number of references to this passage – I have not counted – is perhaps 20-30?

It’s not a hugely important part of patristic commentary, clearly.

One text that is resisting my efforts rather well, tho, is the Commentary on Isaiah by Eusebius.  This was only rediscovered in the last 50 years, and so is not found in Migne.  In fact only one translation exists in any language, made into English by IVP Academic very recently indeed.  And I have been trying to obtain a copy, without actually ponying up the money to buy it.  I try not to buy translations, for my house is small and already full of books.  Translations and texts are reference items, and I want them in PDF, not on paper.

It seems that the IVP salesmen have not managed to get their series into many UK libraries.  This means that few copies exist for interlibrary loans.  Nevertheless, I found one at Aberdeen using COPAC.  This morning I trotted down to my local library in Suffolk, and placed an order.  Then I learned the price – they want almost £15 (around $22) to lend me the book for two weeks.  I was assured that this price was subsidised; which may be so, but is plainly nonsense when a book may be posted from the US for $5.  I shall carry on; but it will be the last book I borrow.

It is very sad to see Suffolk Libraries degenerate in this way.  Nobody can afford such prices to borrow a book.  Effectively the service has been priced out of existence.  Which is very sad, because I owe much of my education to books obtained this way.  The library service is now merely a service for elementary readers: those needing textbooks must buy them.

I find, actually, that I can borrow the book via Cambridge University Library for £6 (around $8), who certainly are not subsidising it.  But I can’t borrow books from there.

In this light, I found it curious that this week a consortium of publishers obtained a judgement from the High Court in London, to force ISPs to bar access to pirate book sites.  Those sites are used mainly by people who simply cannot afford to purchase academic books at the fantastic prices demanded.  To these will now be added those who cannot afford to borrow them from public libraries.  It is a short-sighted, unpleasant business, to obstruct access to learning.

I do wonder what will happen to the next generation.  I was fortunate enough to have access to books, and articles, by means of ILL.  This, plainly, is no longer the case.  The internet compensates to some extent; but not enough, because of the predatory instincts of book publishers.  If I were to be interested in patristics today, would I be able to even obtain a copy of Quasten, whose 4 volumes opened a world of interest to me?  I rather doubt it.

These are sad thoughts.  But change is the rule of life.  We live in bad times, with bad rulers.  But times change, and what these worthless men have tried so hard to kill, we will rebuild.

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