A few fragments for the weekend

It’s time for a miscellaneous post.  Here are a few stories and notices from the last few weeks which may be of general interest.

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First up is a GitHub repository, containing an archive of open access antique Christian texts.  The title is the Patristic Text Archive, and it’s here.  Created by Annette von Stockhausen, you have to click down through the directories to find content (surely there must be a better way?)  So here we find Sever J. Voicu’s Greek text of Severian of Gabala, De fide et lege naturae.

h/t TEI Pelican, who also alerts me to versions of the works of Evagrius Ponticus here.

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Next, we all know that medieval manuscripts use abbreviations in order to save parchment.  No surprise there – if you had to make your own parchment by catching a sheep, you’d economise too!  But how did medieval scribes keep up with the abbreviations that we find so difficult today?

Well, they had handbooks of them.  Here’s a manuscript from Reichenau, dated 1013-1054 AD, now in the library at Fulda with shelfmark 100 C 4.  Folio 2r is online here. (Click to expand the image)

Medieval abbreviations in a medieval manuscript

H/T Stephanie J. Lahey @SJLahey.

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The next item that caught my eye is a strange story.  Appearing in the Union of Catholic Asian News, and dated 22 September 202o, it’s headlined, Chinese Catholics angry over book claiming Jesus killed sinner.

Catholics in mainland China are upset about the distortion of a Bible story in a school textbook, which claims Jesus Christ stoned to death a sinner woman in order to respect the law of the time.

The textbook, published by the government-run University of Electronic Science and Technology Press, aims to teach “professional ethics and law” to the students of secondary vocational schools.

The book quotes the story of Jesus forgiving the sins of a woman who committed adultery from the Gospel of John. But it has a changed ending.

The crowd wanted to stone the woman to death as per their law. But Jesus said, ‘Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.’ Hearing this, they slipped away one by one.

When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death saying, “I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead,” the textbook said.

So far, so very odd.  How do we know any of this?

A parishioner who uploaded the textbook on social media said the distortion was an insult to the Catholic Church.

“I want everyone to know that the Chinese Communist Party has always tried to distort the history of the Church, to slander our Church, and to make people hate our Church,” his post said.

Mathew Wang, a Christian teacher at a vocational school, confirmed the content but said the textbook content varies from place to place within China.

Wang added that the controversial textbook was reviewed by the Textbook Review Committee for Moral Education in Secondary Vocational Education.

Um.  That’s not very good.  So where is it, then – where’s the book?  Let’s see it.

Something about this story makes me wary.  I see that the story has been repeated by various websites, clearly without further investigation.  The mainstream media have ignored it.

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Finally, and continuing the theme of my previous post, here’s a bronze sestertius of Trajan, struck 112-114 which shows a picture of Portus, the new port of Rome constructed by Claudius, and expanded by Trajan.  This from the auction site:

A bronze sestertius of emperor Trajan celebrates the completion of his harbor expansion project in A.D. 113.

The coin, in virtually uncirculated condition, was found in the basilica at Caerwent in South Wales, not far from Caerleon.

H/t Jon Hawke.

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That’s it for now.  Have a good weekend!

UPDATE:  Commenter Suburbanbanshee reports that the original tweet (by @timothyshlong) for the Chinese story is here!

Google translate gives the text of the tweet as “Blatantly, tampering with the “Bible”, this so-called education, after all, is very gentle!”

This contains two images of the handbook.

And this:

I will see if I can find someone with Chinese to translate this material.

10 thoughts on “A few fragments for the weekend

  1. Ref. Patristic Text Archive: Yes, there is a better way. Your post just came one day early… Please stay tuned for an announcement at https://twitter.com/bibelexegese tomorrow. There’ll be also more content.

    Btw.: the edition of the Severian text you mention is not by Sever Voicu, but Migne’s.

  2. Oh, and I think your coin shows up in one of Rosemary Sutcliff’s Welsh/Roman Britain books, where a guy complains about having dropped a nice new coin or something. She makes a lot more of these in-jokes than I ever recognized as a kid.

  3. I _can_ see the simplified character for “stone” in the story part, between the two supposed quotes from Jesus, and after the would-be stoners leaving. So Jesus definitely did _something_ with a stone.

    Trying to use online free OCR was pretty useless for me, though it did show that Jesus’ name was in there.

  4. Okay, the first two characters in the story paragraph are “Jesus,” or rather, “Ye Su.” The normal name characters for Him. The rest is kinda sailing past my head, especially with the whole simplified Chinese thing, and with Chinese being as much about sounds as meanings. Argh. Surely somebody out there did an annotated direct translation. I do see “woman”, “man,” and “stone,” but the story doesn’t seem to be derived from any of the standard Chinese translations on Biblehub. (Although my visual recognition of characters really really stinks.)

    Gotta go to work. See ya!

  5. Thank you so much for the link! I never saw that the Epoch Times had this. I have forwarded the text on to a friend who says he has a Chinese-speaking wife!

  6. Your comment “This story links the story pic and mentions that there’s a question section afterward. They also link a stoning clip from Life of Brian.” – the url did not come through. Could you repost it?

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