From my diary

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.


4 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. I’ve never begun to try to look into it, but “at least according to some American Christians” sounded like improbable brevity. I’m not sure how far recourse to Wikipedia (“Rapture”) is a step in the direction of beginning to try to look into it, but I find there “Other 17th-century expressions of the rapture are found in the works of: Robert Maton, Nathaniel Homes, John Browne, Thomas Vincent, Henry Danvers, and William Sherwin” with a footnote to “William Watson (April 2015). Dispensationalism Before Darby: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century English Apocalypticism (Lampion Press, 2015), ch.7.” A transAtlantic phenomenon, from then on sounds likely to me.

  2. I’ve never looked into the matter one bit. But I have read “Left Behind”, and indeed enjoyed it.

    With the Ephraem stuff, there is so much to go into that I didn’t want to have to read up about Pre-Millennialism as well, so I left that alone.

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