About this blog

Welcome to my blog, which at this instant has 4,597 posts containing 2,998,597 words (these are dynamic figures).  I’m interested in the ancient world, and the early Christians within it; in the ancient texts and the manuscripts in which these reach us; and in the free circulation of information about all this online.

Finding related posts

I use WordPress tags to link related posts together.  Look for these at the end of each post, and click on the link to see all posts with that tag.

About me, and why I write this blog

Back in 1997 I started the Tertullian Project website.  While compiling this, I kept coming across English translations of works by the early Christians which were not already online.  I reasoned that no-one would scan them unless I did; and so I became the editor of the Additional Fathers collection.

In many cases, I was led to search out the full text by the use of “quotations” in anti-Christian polemic online.  This has often tried to show that the Fathers advocated something or other which sounds damaging, using selective (mis)quotation.   This encouraged me to scan complete texts and place them online.

Over the last decade Google Books and Archive.org altered the situation greatly.  I no longer scan so much material.  Instead I have concentrated on material where no English translation exists, and on finding ways to make or to commission such translations.  Sometimes making a translation from French or Italian is valuable, if non-scholarly, because so many people can’t read either.

I’ve published two books, translations of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel Problems and Solutions and Origen of Alexandria’s Exegetical Works on Ezekiel, and the process of producing them has occupied many blog posts.  I’ll make both of these available online freely once they have sold whatever they are going to sell – the first is already online.  I will publish no more books, though.

There are texts which only exist in the obscure Oriental languages like Armenian, Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, etc.  Few look at these, but precious snippets about antiquity survive in them.   So someone like myself can help to open up these fields by making these available.

Arabic Christian studies is little known. Yet we find “quotes” which get used for anti-Christian polemic that derive from it, at many removes.  One that has interested me is “Mithras said that he who does not eat my body and drink my blood will not know salvation, so this proves Mithras = Jesus”.  Looking into this one has involved commissioning translations of Arabic and Karshuni texts.  People talk about the Testimonium Flavianum of Agapius.  Yet the big five histories — Agapius, Eutychius, Bar Hebraeus Book of the dynasties, al-Makin, and … I can’t even remember the other one! … do not exist in English.  When I look at Agapius, I don’t actually find any Testimonium!  al-Makin doesn’t even exist in print in any language, not even in Arabic.  I am translating Eutychius from the Italian.  Perhaps one day someone will make a translation from the Arabic.

While looking at these obscure writings, I became interested in the question of how ancient texts physically reach us, in surviving ancient and medieval hand-written copies — manuscripts.  I have compiled notes on what manuscripts exist for various ancient texts here.

I am a committed Christian.  I make the occasional post here on contemporary Christian issues.  Issues of apologetics that relate to ancient history are always interesting, and have led me to research some obscure corners of knowledge.  Longer ago I wrote on free speech online a little, but I ceased to do so many years ago.  That battle has been lost, and I have no interest in the politics today associated with that label.

There is also a series of posts “From my diary”, which gives a picture of things that I am doing connected with the topics of this blog.  If I think it would be of general interest, I blog about it.

I hesitated a long time on what to call my blog.  In the end I chose simply to give it my name.  After all, what other common thread is there?  It records things that I found of interest, and what I am doing.  I hope that you will find some of this interesting too.  I hope to promote learning and knowledge, to leave the world a little better than I found it, to open up areas of learning which receive insufficient attention, and to let us all access them!  I hope to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in so doing.


Now let me finish with a word about comments policy.  Your comments are welcome.  But I do things a bit differently here.

On many blogs, comments are really not moderated much, and the ranting and raving in them is not of any importance.  But on this blog the comments often add extra information, or offer additional discussion; and that is how I want it to be.

The comments that I like are (e.g.) those that encourage me in what I am doing, or inform me or others, or are otherwise interesting.  The comments that I don’t like are trolls, or from quarrelsome people.  I prefer comments to be on-topic, broadly.  But if in doubt … please go ahead!

However I would ask that all commenters remember that this is my personal blog, not a public forum? — You have no right to expect that I publish whatever anybody sends.

The way I think about the comments on this blog is this: Think of your comment as if you were leaning over my shoulder and writing in the margin of my diary.  I won’t let people scribble stuff in the margin that doesn’t add anything, or, worse, annoys me.  And … if you really badly want to say something which doesn’t fall within these limits, about me or anything else, then why not start your own blog?  WordPress.com or Blogger.com will allow you to set up your own blog for free!

Update (June 2014): Note that your first comment will now be held for moderation, but that you can comment freely once I have “approved” that.  This is purely to prevent spam.  If your comment just vanishes, you can always pop me a note through the contact form and tell me that it’s there.  Sometimes WordPress goes a bit funny and puts a load of legitimate comments in spam, and of course I know nothing of it.


42 thoughts on “About this blog

  1. Only those considered saints are authorities, for example Turtulian and Origen are not saints because they deviated from the traditional interpretations of scripture and the deposit of faith. So only part of their works are accepted. But what I mean is, how can you be so familiar with the history of the Church, starting with the Apostles and through the middle ages, and still believe there was a certain date by which the Church no longer held authority. Many Protestants can believe this because they don’t know history. You seem to know. For example, you know it was Langton who came up chapters and numbers, most Protestants don’t. That brings you to the high middle ages in accepting decisions of the Church, well into the time most Protestants claim the Church became an evil entity rather than the body of Christ and the pope is an anti-christ rather than the successor of Peter. It’s just interesting to me, not a big deal.

  2. I’m aware of the distinction in Catholic thought between the doctors and the fathers. 🙂

    In a world which hates Christians, I have never felt a strong urge to define precisely why I don’t agree with this denomination or that. I could; but I don’t care to write on those topics. I don’t know any Catholics. Catholicism has no presence in the world that I live in. So … why volunteer to write against Catholicism? What is the pressing need to do so?

    The point here is essentially one of Catholic anti-protestant polemic. I don’t believe a word of that stuff and I can see the frame in which it is positioned. I could discuss exactly what I think about this.

    But if I were to do so … what good end would it serve? None that I can see.

  3. good point. I like that outlook, very refreshing. if I had to bet, I think you will eventually become Catholic or Orthodox. Bless you, happy Easter!

  4. Have you any more weblogs than this and The Tertullian Project ? The links on both sites are really fascinating and useful. Would a link to the fledgling Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library be a good idea – or is that too late for the kind of material you are interested in ?

    The link to the site: https://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/doml

  5. Hi there
    Would you like some help with the Erpenius al-makin project? I have been looking at Erpenius translation to see what he makes of the Arabic, and would be happy to help in some way.

  6. That is a very kind offer. Just at the moment I can’t do anything – started a new job this week! – but if I can come back to you?

  7. In the 204th Olympiad, it says the PL records Matthew as writing the gospel in Judea, but not the Merton ms. Which, if either, should we believe?

  8. Granted, I haven’t scoured your web site thoroughly, but in looking at the front matter I don’t see anything about your scholarly or professional profile. Are you entirely an independent smart thinker with no educational training in particular and no vocational pursuits relevant to either higher education or religious ministry in some tradition? I ask this courteously because I enjoy what you have here, and was going to cite you in a lecture on Casaubon. Whatever you say wouldn’t obviate a citation, but I’m always curious to know the context of authors whom I cite and engage. It appears that Chieftain Publishing is your own imprint, but you also refer to as academic publishing. Would like to know more!

  9. I’m a layman. I have no relevant qualifications whatsoever so my opinion is worth nothing (probably). There is no need to engage with me. But then I tend not to write opinion. This is why I focus on making primary sources accessible. Whatever I have to say is usually verifiable.

    My academic publishing is not self-publishing, tho, but rather normal publishing of the professional academics who wrote the volumes. Both are translations; both have been peer-reviewed. I just put up the money etc.

  10. Are you or someone else translating Origen’s Homilies on Psalms that were discovered about seven years ago in the Bavarian State Library?

  11. “The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosphers” -> “The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers”

  12. Dear Roger
    I read, with interest, your posting:

    Two manuscripts of the Notitia Dignitatum online!
    Posted on July 27, 2018 by Roger Pearse

    A few years ago I uploaded the Chronography of 354 AD to the web, and I included some of the regionary catalogues here as part 14, with notes by me; the lists of buildings, temples, etc in the 14 regions of ancient Rome.

    Times have changed, and I learn from the Vatican digitisation project twitter feed that one of the manuscripts has come online, ms. Vat. lat. 3394, late 15th c., belong to Pomponio Leto.

    I cannot find a copy of the “Notitia dignitatum” in Vat.Lat.3394

    Best regards

  13. Oh dear … really? I trusted the report I saw and did not check. The regionary material was all I looked at. I will look on Monday and update the post if necessary.

  14. Do you speak these languages with fluency?

    I also second that question about your religious affiliation. You’re non-denominational? Do you have any posts where you talk more about that?

  15. I’m a layman. I’ve got better at various languages when I found there was material that I wanted to read in them, but I am not fluent.

  16. Roger, do you know the site Corpus Corporum at the University of Zurich (http://www.mlat.uzh.ch/MLS/). Among other things it has a digital, searchable PL, a great boon for those who do not have access to the expensive commercial versions. Apologies if you’ve already mentioned this.

  17. Paul, sorry about the delay in replying but a bunch of comments went into the spam filter! No, I’d not heard of that. I will add it to the links! Thank you.

  18. Hello Roger,
    I’ve only now come to your blog, which an online student recommended (he mistook you for Joseph Pearce, the skinhead-turned-Catholic-literary-critic!).
    This is a delightful place; I’m glad I’ve found it. Like you, I try to debunk falsely used quotations of the Fathers and also am less sanguine about their authority than most contemporary Catholics.\
    I teach in an RC seminary, by the way.
    Thank you for the work you’ve been doing to make these texts available to the greater number.
    -John P.

  19. Hello John,

    Thank you for your kind words! It’s always interesting to learn how people arrive here! Getting the raw facts wrong is just a nuisance to us all – glad that you’re on that. I hope that the site continues to be useful. (Now back to John the Deacon…)



  20. boa noite Roger!
    parabéns pelo blog e pelo seu trabalho!
    gostaria de saber mais a respeito do Kebra Negast, você tem conhecimento?
    datam ele do séc III, escrito em COPTA, ou seja cooptado ou agregado do original em GEÊS da ETHIÓPIA não é isso? fale mais do Tarik Negusti, Abissínia, Axum, Puntes, Sabá,etc… por favor traduza pra nós os códices da biblioteca de Nag…mais uma vez, agradecido!

  21. Of course I am aware of the Kabra Nagast, the Ethiopian “Book of Kings”. It can’t be Coptic, tho.

    There are English translations of the Nag Hammadi codices online, surely?

  22. Great website Roger. Definately a service to humanity.

    I was reading about the burning of the Library of Alexandria, and I am confused. Perhaps the original author, Al-Qifti, (1172–1248), got it wrong.

    Yahya al-Nahwi, who was known as Grammaticus lived from 490-575
    Amr ibn al As is the Moslem general who conquered Egypt in 642 CE
    According to the story, they were friends. But they didn’t live at the same time.


    There seem to be two different translations of this work, and they are very different. Can you explain this? I have no idea … is one of them … no I just don’t get it.



  23. Hello Mr. Pearse,

    I’m not of a strong background in patristics, but I was recently dumbfounded to learn about the story of how the Patrologia Latina was compiled under the editorship of J. P. Migne. To my even greater surprise, it appears that the entire series is available online.

    As I read Latin only very slowly, I was curious about how much of the material in PL was available in English translation online, and so I started searching my way through the titles. I’m currently working on Volume 3, and so far it seems that for the primary sources, everything has been available through Schaff’s Ante-Nicene Fathers, or else appears on your website.

    I’ve finally hit one that’s a little bit of a puzzle. In PL 3:671, I find a “Chronicon sub Alexandro Severo scriptum” for which I’m at least not immediately finding any English translation. Perhaps I’ll have to put my own together, but I just thought I might try and see whether you might now of a way to find it.

    Thank you for all your work,

    Mitchell Powell

  24. @John Avina:

    Hi John,

    Reading those two pages, my version is from an Islamic site somewhere, which has since vanished. The Coptic version is from Emily Cottrell’s translation. So… two different sources.

    I can’t disentangle the chronology – sorry. I’m rather tied up with other things at the moment.

    Best wishes,

    Roger Pearse

  25. @Mitchell Powell

    I’m glad that you are having fun with the PL! It’s fascinating to look into. Everything is reprinted from earlier editions, of course. I must read a biography of Migne one day.

    The “Chronicon sub Alexandro Severo scriptum” rings no bells. I could research it – presumably the Clavis Patrum Latinorum would have an entry for it – but I am rather busy elsewhere right now!

    Best wishes,

    Roger Pearse

  26. @Roger Pearse,

    Oh, I wouldn’t dream of asking you to go hunting for it. I just finished a biography of Migne called _God’s Plagiarist_, by R. Howard Bloch, and it was fascinating.

    It looks like the Chronicon sub Alexandro Severo scriptum, which appears in PL 3, is mostly composed of material which also appears in PG 92 as the Chronicon of Hippolytus. I didn’t comb through for every difference, mind you, but mainly it seems that if you took the Chronicon of Hippolytus, deleted the section about circumnavigating the globe, expanded a little bit on the names of ancient priests, and then added a paragraph or two at the end on Hebrew Kings, you’d wind up with this little anonymous Chronicle. The question I don’t have an answer to is whether this anonymous chronicle was derived from Hippolytus or the reverse.

    I had never heard of this Clavis Patrum Latinorum, but at a glance it looks like it could be very useful. Thanks!

  27. What a really nice discovery! Thank you for your rigorous approach to your blog and for making public your musings and research. And concern for a lot of really important issues. I live in Michigan and would really like know more about you. Clear headed, analytical, informed people speaking out about Christianity are to be prized and supported. Keep up the good work. thank you.

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