Today I decided to have a go at finishing off my posts on the references to Matthew 27:25 in patristic literature. This has really dragged on, and I want it done.
At the moment I am working near Cambridge, in the UK, which means that it is possible for me to make use of the University Library. So I decided to pay it a visit. I left work at 3pm, fully aware of the terrible Cambridge traffic.
Among the items I sought was access to the 11 volume complete translation of Augustine’s sermons. This was produced by New City Press, but is not held nearly as widely as it might. I discovered that, although the University Library did not hold a copy, it was held by the Classics Faculty, based nearby. (Indeed it was also held by the Divinity Faculty, but they close at 4pm during the vacation).
Anyway I toodled over there, along largely empty roads, and found that I could park on a meter in Sidgewick Road, more or less outside. The library proved to be on the right immediately inside the main entrance, and a definite pleasure to use. There was a whole section of Augustine, and cheap photocopying. So I obtained the item I wanted, and went on to the UL.
The other items I sought were also patristic, so I found myself in South Wing 3, looking at the usual volumes, and cursing whoever decided to split the Sources Chretiennes volumes across two widely-separated bookshelves. To my surprise, a stooped elderly gentleman seemed to be looking at the same parts of the library – something that has never happened to me. After a brief struggle of memory, I recognised Allan Brent, although the recognition was not mutual. Clearly he was swotting for his paper at the Oxford Patristic Conference, now only 10 days away.
Off to the photocopier room with the volumes, to discover that only two of the five photocopiers were in working order, and both occupied, even on this quiet afternoon. The library profiteers pretty considerably on these, charging 15c USD a page – an incredible sum. So you would have thought that they could be bothered to make sure that they work! But I imagine that they are used only by visitors, and so not regarded as a priority; because university members could simply borrow the books, take them down the road, and scan them for nothing.
I was slightly frustrated to discover that the edition of Apponius in the Sources Chretiennes only covered the first 3 books of the work, while I needed a passage from book 12. Oh well.
Another source I needed was Jerome’s homilies on Isaiah, of which Thomas Scheck has produced a translation in the Ancient Christian Writers series (no. 68) this very year. But … the volume was an absurdity! It was about as thick as three normal volumes in that series, and impossible to handle. One can only suppose that the editors had a brainstorm. Come on, chaps; why didn’t you divide it into three physical volumes?
A more serious problem was the index, which, I quickly discovered, only listed three references to Matthew 27:25, whereas my search of CETEDOC had reported five. After much wrestling with the obscure CETEDOC reference, I found that this was correct, and that the index to the ACW volume was wrong. I suppose that preparing indexes is a tedious task, usually delegated to someone junior. In this case it did not work.
But the end result of all this was nearly a full house of photocopies of references, which will drift online in the next day or so. And I finished by 4:30pm, and drove back to my hotel rejoicing!