Notes on Andrew of Crete’s Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra

In all the Methodius stuff, I have not forgotten that there are many untranslated hagiographical texts about St Nicholas of Myra, or Santa Claus, which are still on my hit list.  A correspondent has written to offer help with translating Greek texts, and I recalled that the Encomium by Andrew of Crete (BHG 1362, CPG 8187) might be a possible starting point.  The work dates to the beginning of the 8th century, so might be a little early for that translator.  But we will see.

Since I have to look this up, here’s some bibliography.

Greek text:

G. Anrich, Hagios Nikolaos, der Heilige Nikolaos in der Griechischen Kirche; Texte und Untersuchungen, 2 vols, Leipzig: Teubner, 1913-17. Volume 1, p.419-428.

Patrologia Graeca 97, col. 1192-1205, where the work is given as “oration 18” of Andrew of Crete.  With Latin translation.


German translation:  L. Heiser, “Die Festrede des Andreas von Kreta,”  in idem, Nikolaos von Myra. Heiliger der ungeteilten Christenheit, Trier, 1978, p.80-89.  I do have a copy of this, it turns out.

Partial English translation: I find by looking online that someone has made an English translation of a slab of it here, although who and from what is not clear.  There is a link at the end to the PG text, so presumably that was used, or the Latin of it.

Let’s see what comes of this.

UPDATE: I came across a useful article on Andrew of Crete this morning, which gives us a little more information.[1]

The best study of Andrew and his work is apparently S. Valhé, “Saint André de Crete“, Echos d’Orient 5 (1902), 378-87.  There are some modern articles in Greek also.  Also M.-F. Auzépy, “La carriere de André de Crete”, BZ 88 (1995) 1-12.

The Encomium may not, in fact, be by Andrew of Crete.  It seems that Anrich expressed doubts on this (154-60, 339-56) which were endorsed by N. Sevcenko in The Life of St Nicholas in Byzantine Art, Turin, 1983, p.26.  Apparently Auzépy fails to mention this question, tho.

UPDATE: Now translated.

  1. [1]Mary B. Cunningham, “Andrew of Crete: a high-style preacher of the eighth century”, in: M. Cunningham and P. Allen, Preacher and His Audience: Studies in Early Christian and Byzantine Homiletics, 1998, 267-294.

4 thoughts on “Notes on Andrew of Crete’s Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra

  1. In the partial Rnglish translation (and, I think, the linked sources) there are clear allusions to specific deeds of St. Nicholas. This leaves me wondering about the (I think) less specific ‘heresy’ references (in the favourable comparisons with Noah, Job, and David). Are they simply commonplaces? Or might they be informed by specific or general awareness of the times of St. Nicholas and so prepare the way for the later elaborate accounts of him and Arius at Nicea?

  2. How very interesting! What a paltry sum they must have sold it for too, given standard retail markup of 50%.

    I expect it was kept locked up. Few people could ever borrow volumes of Migne!

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