From my diary

I have spent a very busy afternoon, pulling together most of the pieces of the Council of Hippo (393) and the two sessions of the Council of Carthage (397).  Despite all that I have done on this in the last twelve months, it has been rather awful.  I’m still not quite sure how to arrange all the material.

The problem is not with the edition of Charles Munier, although this is not fun to work with.  I think that the problem is caused by the material; a mass of stuff, repeated, revised, edited, abbreviated, reordered, through council after council, source after source.  It is a very tangled mass of stuff.

Editors like Mansi simply gathered together what belonged to each council.  Munier tried to follow some kind of transmission unit.  I have a feeling, tho, that the first course is the only possible course for what I want to do.

I’m trying to remember, in all this, what that original objective was.  I started with the widespread conception that the Councils of Hippo and Carthage “decided” by vote what should be in the canon of scripture.  This only works if you only quote canon 36, however.  But then that is exactly what the books all do.

I felt the answer was to present the context; the other canons, and material produced by the councils.  This is still true; but I had no conception of the sheer difficulty in working with this mass of material.  It is telling that Munier says that he spent ten years on this onerous task.  What a way to spend the 1960s!  I myself will be more than glad to be rid of this one.

The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translated the Register of the church of Carthage, a collection of canons appended to the council of 419 (?) by the 6th century editor Dionysius Exiguus.  This contains stuff that I need to include; mostly canons of the second session of the Council of Carthage.  This evening I have been copying and pasting the relevant portions to a word document, in order to work on them further.

I think that I will largely use them as is, with minor tweaks.  At one point the translator mysteriously dropped into Jacobean English!  Thee and thou appeared all over the place; and then vanished again.  The translation veers between very literal and almost paraphrase.  At one point he just sticks the Latin word in here or there, untranslated, unfootnoted.  I infer that nobody, nobody, really read it that hard!  More interesting was a note to one canon where the translator said that the Latin was a mess and he followed the Greek translation instead.  I sympathise, I truly do.  How funny that Latin so well-used and copied should be corrupt!

Oh well.  Onward.


2 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. I really admire the work you do and see it as an inspiration for a project I work on in obscurity.

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