Thinking about Methodius, De resurrectione and De autexusio

This evening I combined the English translation of the Old Slavonic text of De Lepra with the translation of the Greek fragments of the same work.  The latter were considerably fuller, where I had both, and sometimes with startling differences.  However I hope to have this completed before too long.

This will complete the four short works of Methodius, leaving some Greek fragments, but also two large works: the De resurrectione and the De autexusio (On Free will).  The latter has a French translation by Vaillant.

I’ve worked out the price of translating both, and it is far beyond my means.  If it is to be done, it must be done by a grant.  Fortunately I have such a body in mind, so this evening I have been doing some calculations.

It is relatively straightforward to work out a price for the Old Slavonic of both works, based on the page count of the manuscript.  That said, Vaillant did edit the Old Slavonic text, so in this case we do have an edition to work from.

But working out a price for the Greek is much harder.  It turns out that there is an awful lot of Greek extant for these works.  The total for the Greek is 50% of the total for the Old Slavonic!

A further issue came to my attention when skimming through Vaillant’s preface.  It seems that the Old Slavonic translation is often almost unintelligible.

The reason for this, says Vaillant, is that the translator simply substituted for each Greek word the equivalent term in Old Slavonic, without bothering much about whether the resulting sentence made sense!  In fact he says that often the best thing to do is to reverse the process – to work out what Greek word lies behind each Slavonic word, and then see what the sentence actually originally meant in the Greek!

If we are to take this seriously – and translators are known to exaggerate the difficulty of their achievement sometimes, at the behest of their publishers – then this would mean that only a translator fluent in both Greek and Old Slavonic could make a translation of Methodius.  Only a native English speaker fluent in Greek and Old Slavonic could make an English translation.  Does anyone know of such a prodigy?

But I suspect that this is a tall tale.  Doubtless this may sometimes be the case; but I don’t think that I should abandon the effort of getting a translation made for such a reason.

It is late now, tho, so the application process will have to wait until another day.

One other point caught my eye.  Interestingly Vaillant refers to an unpublished French translation of an Armenian recension of De autexusio.  I wonder where that is now?


9 thoughts on “Thinking about Methodius, De resurrectione and De autexusio

  1. Re. “Vaillant refers to an unpublished French translation of an Armenian recension of De autexusio”.
    I see Vaillant wrote in his 1930 publication that “Le Père Mariés, avec une complaisance inlassable, m’a guidé et fait bénéficier de son érudition, et il m’a permis d’utiliser sa traduction inédite du De Deo d’Eznik. Le Père Gondamin m’a autorisé à consulter et à mettre à profit sa traduction”. It appears this translation was published in some form in 1959. See and from there select 06754441X where one may request a photocopy.

  2. Whoops, run-on copy & paste. Strike the misleading “Le Père Gondamin m’a autorisé à consulter et à mettre à profit sa traduction”.
    And “Le Père Mariés” needs correction to “Le Père Mariès”.

  3. Maries’ work on Eznik of Kolb is interesting; but this does not seem to relate to Methodius, De autexusio?

  4. Aha – thank you. I had not understood that.

    There’s a good English translation of Eznik, of course. I used to have a copy … wonder where it is?

  5. where are the Old Slavonic manuscripts of De resurrectione? do you have photos of them? I need to quote one passus from the third book and I really do not know where to look for…

  6. thank you!
    yes, I can 🙂 not professionally, but I am Polish and I had Russian at school so I understand 🙂

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