I dislike translations of “selected passages”. You always wonder what was in the missing bits. On the other hand Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms is so immense that nobody has translated anything much of it. Indeed Andrew Eastbourne’s translation of the portion on Ps.51/52 is pretty much all that anybody has done.
I’ve been compiling a list of passages that might usefully be translated (psalm numbers as in PG, i.e. LXX/Vulgate, rather than KJV/NIV). Contributions are welcome, of course!
- Introduction – PG23.68-72 – a short list by Eusebius of the subject matter of each of the 150 Psalms, entitled Hupotheseis (“Themes”). This is already done.
- Ps. 51 – PG 23.445d-448a, the conclusion to his preface to Ps 51, in which he presents a detailed review of the jumbled chronology of the psalms attributed to David in the first two portions of the Psalter. This is already done as part of the Ps.51 translation.
- Ps. 60, v.6 – PG 23.580c – Recognizing that the psalms originated in the prayers of Israel, he says “. . . the things that were uttered were rightly no longer regarded as ordinary prayers but as prophetic words, and the ones who had received the charisma of the discernment of spirits inserted them into the divine books”. TODO. There is a chunk of stuff about inspiration of the bible here, perhaps half a column to a column.
- Ps 62, 2-3 – PG 23.601a–604b – Prof. Hollerich in his article (below) says that he has a translation of this in the Eusebius chapter in the forthcoming New Cambridge History of the Bible, presumably vol. 1. I don’t have access to this though. It contains material on how the psalter was assembled. TODO. The commentary on v.2-3 actually starts on col. 599-605; but the interesting material is 599-603B, two and a half columns.
- Ps 86, 2-4 – PG 23.1040b – 1041d. This has more material on how the psalter was assembled. “There too, he says, the order of events and of prophecies is sometimes reversed, with prophecies from later times being found in earlier parts of the books. In both cases, the “probable” (eikos) explanation is that the unhistorical sequencing of the books is due to the fact that those who preserved the prophecies added them to the book as they incidentally came to their attention, following disruptions like the Babylonian Exile. The same explanation applies to the Psalter—unless, he adds, someone wishes to propose a deeper meaning (bathuteros nous) that has escaped him (PG 23.1041d). He flatly denies that the psalm numbers themselves could carry inherent significance, as if “. . . the fiftieth in number contains the understanding of the forgiveness of sins because of the fifty year period referred to in the Law, the period which the children of the Hebrews call a ‘jubilee’ . .” TODO: Two columns, from 1040 to the top of 1043.
- Ps 86:5-7 – PG 23, 1048C – 1049C – In this psalm the LXX differs notably from the other Greek versions (and Eusebius usually presumed that that meant the LXX differed from the Hebrew as well). So ought to be interesting. TODO: A column at most.
- Ps.87:11 – PG 23, 1064A – This mentions the mnêma (tomb) and martyrion of the Savior in Jerusalem, where, he says, miracles were being performed among the faithful, thereby indicating that this is a late work. TODO: Just a few lines before and after the sentence.
- Ps 91 (92), PG 23. 1169/1170B, the psalm is entitled, A psalm or song for the sabbath-day. Eusebius begins his commentary by stating that the patriarchs had not the legal Jewish sabbath; but still ‘given to the contemplation of divine things, and meditating day and night upon the divine word, they spent holy sabbaths which were acceptable to God.’ Then a long quote which I have here. Then Ps 92 – PG 23. 1172A: καὶ πάντα δὴ ὅσα ἄλλα ἐχρῆν ἐν Σαββάτῳ τελεῖν, ταῦτα ἡμεῖς ἐν τῇ Κυριακῇ μετατεθείκαμεν (and so all the other things that one must observe on the Sabbath, these things we have transposed to the Lord’s Day’, as discussed here; and here). TODO: The psalm starts at 1163D. Our interest fades at 1173B. About four columns. The whole psalm would be nine columns.
* * * *
That’s not an impossible quantity of material, perhaps ten columns in all. I might enquire whether Fr Alban Justinus might like to translate it for us.
One thought on “Making a selection of interesting passages to translate from Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms”