A couple of days ago I became aware of a sermon de fine mundi by pseudo-Ephraim, in Latin, which allegedly contains a reference to the Rapture. This is when all Christians on earth are caught up to heaven before the Second Coming of Christ, at least according to some American Christians. A draft translation of the work received non-scholarly publication – I am waiting for a copy to arrive from the US – and online transcriptions are apparently defective. The discovery in the 1990s produced an outbreak of venomous trench warfare between US proponents of the various ideas about how the Millennium in Revelation should be interpreted. I hope that I don’t get shot at.
To make sense of this, I’m delving into Ephraim Latinus – basically a collection of 6 homilies translated from Greek, plus some spuria. Because the possible Greek origin is important, I’ve started to wade into the swamp that is Ephraim Graecus – a mass of Greek texts, often apocalyptic, mostly not by Ephraim Syrus. This in turn means dealing with the question of whether the Greek is a translation of something from Syriac. Ephraim Syrus did not write in Greek – that seems to be agreed – so we have a mass of material, mostly pseudonymous.
Ephraim Graecus is a mess. There’s little scholarly work on it, and the only edition is the mess of J. Assemani in the 18th century. Assemani just printed whatever the manuscripts said, and didn’t worry about “doublets” – passages appearing in more than one work. For translation he reprinted in parallel column the renaissance translation of Ambrogio Traversari. Just to add to the fun, only Chrysostom has more texts listed in the CPG, so it’s a huge area of work. On the bright side I have identified a list of works that are considered to be translated from Syriac (if not always genuinely by Ephraim).
I’ve already got a bit further than the US boys did. It looks as if the de fine mundi is probably an original Latin composition – there’s no Greek – by someone who quoted quite a bit from Ephraim Graecus, and probably in the ancient Latin translation of Ephraim Latinus. The key passage is in fact quoted from de beatitudine animae, sermon 4 in the collection of 6. I need to look at the Greek for that, and see what is there.
My trusty Fujitsu Scansnap S1300 scanner developed a fault with its power-supply, and only wiggling the power input will make it work. To the dump it must go. A new S1300i arrived today from Amazon, and stands boxed on the floor. I don’t use my PC on Sunday, to stay sane, so it will wait until Monday now.
The sabbath awaits. God bless you all.