An email about the letters of Isidore of Pelusium

Isidore of Pelusium was a monk living in the Nile delta in the early-mid 5th century AD, in the times of Cyril of Alexandria.  We know nothing of him except that a collection about 2,000 of his letters – or rather short excerpts from them – was made by the “Sleepless” monks of Constantinople in the 6th century.  It’s never received a critical edition, but the text is actually quite interesting.  It may be a lost devotional classic.

Something over ten years ago – I write from memory – I became aware of this work.  I did so through the marvellous monograph of Pierre Evieux, who also translated the second half of the collection for the Sources Chrétiennes series.  It seemed a shame not to commission some English translations, and so I set out to do so, and I wrote about this here with the tag “Isidore of Pelusium”.  But it was all very hard, and I got nowhere much.  The bits and pieces all over the place that resulted were too much for me to ever collect.

Yesterday I received an email from Ted Janiszewski.  It seems that he and a friend have been looking at Isidore of Pelusium and trying to work out what exists in English.  He wrote:

What we’ve come up with is there are currently 53 numbered epistles in English, either posted to your blog, shared in the comments, or translated in your edition of Eusebius’ Gospel Problems and Solutions:

1–14, 27, 35–36, 78, 97–101, 212, 221, 310–311, 322, 448, 1106, 1214–1220, 1222–1229, 1241, 1243–1246, 1285, 1382, 1582

There are a further twenty unnumbered letters done into English in 1843 by William Roberts, as you mention here – but I haven’t yet checked to see whether there is overlap. A quick Google Books search uncovered translations of a few more fragments – and I’m sure there is more buried out there in monographs and journals. But this now is what we have.

I was wondering: you mention here (ten years ago today! how time flies) and again here that you commissioned letters 15–25. Did those ever come through?

I have written back to tell him that 15-25 never arrived.  My email box reveals that a gentleman named Mark Genter was working on them, and then everything went silent.

What I did find was a translation of 102-116, made by a gentleman named Clive Sweeting, but never placed online because he never received the payment we agreed.  I think after 10 years that it doesn’t matter, so I will do so in a bit.

Rather nice to hear about all this again!


2 thoughts on “An email about the letters of Isidore of Pelusium

  1. It would be nice. But it needs a translator with fire in their belly to make one. I was reading the bunch that I just posted, and the stiffness of the translation is a real barrier.

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