From my diary

It is now four months since I fell ill with some minor but annoying problem that gave me splitting headaches all day long and left me washed out.  Thankfully those are nearly gone, and although I am still rather weak, I now believe that I will make a full recovery.  It’s been an expensive time, sitting at home, but there was no alternative.  I have also been unable to do very much blogging, as regular readers will know.

One of the things that I have wanted to do is to translate from Latin a couple of “saint’s lives”.  The last time that I did this, I became very dissatisfied with my limited knowledge of Latin syntax.  My knowledge of Latin came from my schooldays, and was mainly a matter of grammar – amo, amas, amat etc.  I did retain knowledge of structures like the ablative absolute, and the accusative plus infinitive for reported speech.  But it became clear to me that I ought to work more on this.

When I work with Latin, I always use a parser to do the vocabulary and grammar, because my memory has started to let me down at times.  In fact I use QuickLatin, which I wrote back in 1999.  It seemed to me that I needed to add syntax information to this, so that it would warn me of common constructions.

In order to do this, I had to do some very serious work on the code.

My first encounter with parsers was with Whitaker’s Words.  This was written by Col. William A. Whitaker (d. 2010), and was written in the military language Ada as a command-line application.  I wanted something that worked in Windows.

In February 1999 I was recruited to work on a military project where there was actually very little to do.  Anybody with experience of government programmes will know that these are incredibly wasteful and slow.  In this case somebody had decided, sometime around 1992, that a computer system was necessary to list the whereabouts of spare parts for a certain type of bomber.  The idea was that cost savings could be made if, instead of stocking all the spare parts necessary, NATO allies could borrow them from each other.  So if the Soviets invaded, and somebody needed a spare part, then they could look at this system, find that the Italians had one, and borrow that.  As you would, with the Soviets bombing every road and railway and the tanks rolling through West Germany.

Obviously this was a completely bonkers idea.  It could never work.  Who thought of it, and why, I have no idea.  There was also the little matter that the Soviet Union had collapsed a couple of years earlier.  Probably there had been several  years of planning, and the process had continued even though the purpose of NATO had disappeared.

The system was not a large one.  In my professional experience, it could have been completed in three months by a team consisting of a team leader and three programmers.

When I joined, in 1999, there was a team of two team leaders and eight programmers.  The software was all years out of date.  The project itself was seven years late.  I worked there for a year, doing minor fixes, and I probably didn’t make it any worse.  What became of it I know not.

Sitting in that office, bored to tears, my thoughts turned to Latin.  I ended up reading the source code for Col. Whitaker’s masterpiece and implementing a version of much of it in Visual Basic for Applications, in a MS Access database.  This was obviously the wrong tool, but it was all that there was on my desktop.  Later I transformed this into Visual Basic 6, and this formed the code base for QuickLatin.

VB6 is now long gone and dead.  Even installing it on Windows 10 is difficult.  So I had to convert and rewrite the code into Visual Basic .Net, as I have mentioned in previous posts, so that I could move forward.  This I did, and I have spent most of my active time in the last four months working on this.

It was also an opportunity to chop out some very tangled code.  Not all the language features used in Ada were available in VBA, nor even in VB6, so I had to code around these.  In fact some are still unavailable in VB.Net.

Col. Whitaker continued to work on his software after 1999, however, although I did not revisit the code.  Recently I came across a feature that he had added which I felt should be part of QuickLatin also.  So I have been looking again at the Ada source code, and trying to convert some of the bits to VB.Net.

The Ada code is remarkably difficult to read, and always was.  The colonel knew what he was trying to do, and did not need to write notes.  The reader is not so fortunate.  I saw a line of code yesterday which read:


and I felt rather hard done by!  Who or what is K and NK?  (After some examination, I decided that it was a stupid way to test something that I could do better another way).

But the colonel did his time in days before most modern coding constructs existed.  His code isn’t really structured in the way that any professional code written after 1985 would be.  The idea of test-driven development only appeared in the last few years of his life.  For Whitaker the Array was his tool; the idea of the HashMap does not seem to have registered.  But these are not criticisms; rather they are a reminder of how far we have come since I started coding.

It is quite interesting to work again on the colonel’s code, after 21 years!  I shall keep plodding away.  At least VB.Net is a far better language to work in than VBA ever was.

Writing in VB6 in 1999, I wrote the user interface in WinForms.  I discovered today that this too is obsolete – I should now use WPF, whatever that is.  I will need to check whether there is an even more recent tool, in fact!  In a way this is a relief.  But it will all take time.

However I have started looking for Latin language constructs.  My guide in this has been Morwood’s Oxford Latin Grammar, which has a very readable section on syntax.  I have also found that simply googling a construction often brings up very readable material.  I discovered “Vir drinks beer” which is focused on Latin-to-English translation, as I am.  A day or two ago I discovered Michael Fontaine’s Hack your Latin articles.

I’ve also been reading verses from Genesis in the Vulgate.  I downloaded to my phone the “sample” from Kindle, which was free and gave me more than enough stuff to read.  I find that if I lie on the sofa and read, looking at the Latin, I find myself wondering “ah, that’s gone into the subjunctive – why?” and such like.  Again I can google bits of it.  So it seems to be really beneficial to do.  I can only do this for a few verses at a time, tho.

Meanwhile I have started to look at job adverts.  I would like to start earning again.  I would like to be able to afford a couple of expensive foreign trips once I am fit enough to do them, if coronavirus does not make visiting airports a rather chancy business.  Unfortunately there are some tax changes here which are due to take effect in April.  These are already disrupting the industry very badly.  It looks unlikely that I will be able to afford to work away from home, if I must pay basic-rate tax at 50%, and then pay for hotel rooms out of taxed income.  Yet my work has always meant working away from home, for there is little work locally.  So I wonder whether I shall be forced to retire.

There is much to think upon.  Meanwhile, I shall return to working on the Latin.

A concise explanation of the legal basis for Roman persecution of Christians

Tertullian tells us, in his Apologeticum that Christians were told, simply, “Non licet esse vos!” (You are not allowed to exist!)  I happened to see a very nice summary of what this meant, and what it tells us, in Servais Pinckaers Spirituality of Martyrdom, p.66.

It was new to me, and I thought that others might find it interesting also.

The traditional explanation of Christian persecution traces its origin to an imperial decree dating back to Nero or Domitian that Tertullian calls the Institutum neronianum. The text is no longer extant, but if it existed it probably contained these terms of proscription: “Non licet esse Christianos” [Being a Christian is forbidden]. This expression underlies many sayings of authors such as Tertullian: “What a harsh law you have written, which says to us: you are forbidden to exist” (non licet esse vos). The apologists consistently reaffirm that Christians were accused merely of being Christians; that they were reproached only for bearing that name, and Tertullian repeatedly asserts that the sentence condemning them indicates no other crime than that. The magistrate would remind the accused of that concise decree, “non licet esse Christianos,” to which the accused would reply, if he were faithful, “Christianus sum” (I am a Christian), and the case would be closed.[1]

This explanation relies upon Trajan’s rescript of 112 CE in response to a letter from Pliny the Younger. Pliny displayed a rigorous but exact interpretation of the legislation, which he used to condemn Christians propter solum nomen—solely on account of the name:

“I make it a sacred duty, my lord, to consult you with my scruples, for who can better guide or instruct me? I have never attended the trial or sentencing of any Christian. I therefore do not know the exact offenses for which they are prosecuted nor the extent to which they are punished.  I am particularly hesitant about whether to make distinctions according to age. Should we impose the same punishment without distinguishing the younger from the older? Should we pardon those who repent, or is the renunciation of Christianity useless once it has been embraced? Is it the name only that we punish? Or are there crimes attached to that name?”

The emperor approves and confirms the obligation to punish nomen si flagitiis careat (the name, even without misdeeds) and not merely the flagitia nomini coherentia (the misdeeds associated with the name).

This rescript of Trajan presupposes an existent law against Christians, dating back at least to Nero or Domitian, which interpretation he solidifies. According to Tertullian, “Under the reign of Augustus this name [Christian] has arisen, under Tiberius it has shown its discipline, and under Nero it has met with condemnation.  Yet only this institution of Nero has survived, while the others were destroyed” (Ad Nationes I, ch.7).

And so, legally speaking, this very characteristic of being a Christian would seem to serve as the basis of the persecution of the first centuries. The historians still debate the existence of that anti-Christian law. Some think that the legal precedent was laid down by Trajan’s rescript itself. [But] regardless of the historical debate surrounding its legal origins, the persecuted Christians understood the basis of the accusation against them to be the mere fact that they were Christians: “Non licet esse christianos.”

That is rather neatly put, and rather useful to have.

A pagan philosopher writes against Manichaeism: Alexander of Lycopolis and his “Against the Manichaeans”

While re-reading Anthony Kaldellis’ A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities I came across the following entry (p.129):

Around A.D. 300, one Alexander of Lycopolis wrote a treatise Against the Manichaeans, which begins with a lucid account of the transformation of Christian thought in his time.

“The philosophy of the Christians is fairly simple. It is mostly concerned with ethical teaching and gives only hints when it comes to the more esoteric questions about the nature of God… . Its precepts are rather crude, but they do help the common people improve their lives. However, later generations subdivided this philosophy by engaging in contentious disputations to which there can really be no solution, and the people have been led into fractious quarrels too. As each of these teachers strives to impress others by the novelty of his doctrines, they have turned this formerly simple philosophy into an unspeakable mess.”

It is unknown whether Alexander was a pagan or a Christian himself.

This, I think, is really rather interesting!  It certainly sounds like a pagan, rather than a Christian.

I’d never heard of Alexander of Lycopolis, so I found myself scurrying around to find information about his book.

The title of the work in the manuscript is Ἀλεξάνδρου Λυκοπολίτου, ἐπιστρέψαντος ἐξ ἐθνῶν, πρός τάς Μανιχαίου δόξας.  A misunderstanding of this title by the first editor, Combefis, led earlier scholars to suppose that it was a work by a pagan convert to Manichaeism, who then became Bishop of Lycopolis.  It should be understood as “Alexander of Lycopolis, converted from the pagans, against the teaching of the Manichaeans”.

But there is nothing in the text that suggests a Christian writer.  Rather this is the work of a pagan philosopher, a Platonist, responding to the infiltration of Manichaeans into his own lectures, who started carrying off his students.  They are named as Papos and Thomas, and both appear in Manichaean literature in Egypt.

The discovery of physical books at Medinet Madu and Kellis makes plain that Manichaeism was very successful in Egypt, just as gnosticism had been.  It quickly became illegal because Mani was seen as a Persian, and so a threat to state security.

Alexander talks about Christianity, because he sees Manichaeism as a Christian heresy.  In this he is correct.  In fact I am told that it is explicitly stated in the Cologne Mani codex that Mani was educated in an Elchesaite environment.[1]

The standard edition of the text is A. Brinkmann, Alexander Lycopolitanus: Contra Manichaei Opiniones Disputatio, B.G.Teubner (1895), online at  From this I learn that the oldest manuscript is in Florence, Mediceo-Laurentianus plutei IX codex 23, of the 9th-10th century, in which the text appears between Didymus the Blind, Contra Manichaeos, and a fragment of Methodius.  This does not appear to be online.  The other mss are merely derived from it:

  • Ottobonianus gr. 194, paper, 15-16th c.
  • Vindobonensis theol. gr. 52 (or possibly 193), paper, 16th c.
  • Barberini III 81, paper, ’16-17th c.’

and a number of 17th century copies.  The text seems to have no conclusion, so I would suspect that it has not reached us in a complete form.

It was first edited by Franciscus Combefis in Bibliothecae graecorum patrum auctarii nobissimi, part 2, Paris, 1672, with a Latin translation.  A reprint of this by Galland in 1768 was reprinted by Migne in the Patrologia Graeca 18, col. 411, in 1857.  Brinkmann’ edition begins thus:

Because the work was printed among the fathers, it was generally assumed to be by Alexander, bishop of Lycopolis, although no evidence of this was forthcoming.  For the same reason it was translated in the 19th century and appears in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, in a truly wretched English translation from the Galland edition in 1869 by a certain James B. H. Hawkins, Curate of Ilminster.  This may be read here, if you try hard enough.  As a sample, here is the beginning of chapter 1:

The philosophy of the Christians is termed simple. But it bestows very great attention to the formation of manners, enigmatically insinuating words of more certain truth respecting God; the principal of which, so far as any earnest serious purpose in those matters is concerned, all will have received when they assume an efficient cause, very noble and very ancient, as the originator of all things that have existence. For Christians leaving to ethical students matters more toilsome and difficult, as, for instance, what is virtue, moral and intellectual; and to those who employ their time in forming hypotheses respecting morals, and the passions and affections, without marking out any element by which each virtue is to be attained, and heaping up, as it were, at random precepts less subtle-the common people, hearing these, even as we learn by experience, make great progress in modesty, and a character of piety is imprinted on their manners, quickening the moral disposition which from such usages is formed, and leading them by degrees to the desire of what is honourable and good.

But this being divided into many questions by the number of those who come after, there arise many, just as is the case with those who are devoted to dialectics, some more skilful than others, and, so to speak, more sagacious in handling nice and subtle questions; so that now they come forward as parents and originators of sects and heresies. And by these the formation of morals is hindered and rendered obscure; for those do not attain unto certain verity of discourse who wish to become the heads of the sects, and the common people is to a greater degree excited to strife and contention. And there being no rule nor law by which a solution may be obtained of the things which are called in question, but, as in other matters, this ambitious rivalry running out into excess, there is nothing to which it does not cause damage and injury.

Ugh!  It appears to be in English, but not a single idea is conveyed to the mind.

Fortunately a more modern translation exists, P.W. van der Horst & J. Mansfeld, An Alexandrian Platonist against Dualism: Alexander of Lycopolis’ Treatise ‘Critique of the Doctrines of Manichaeus’, Leiden, 1974.

The philosophy of the Christians is a simple philosophy. It is chiefly devoted to ethical instruction, while in so far as relatively precise statements of the Christians about God are concerned it remains ambiguous. The endeavours in this direction amount to the assumption that the productive cause is the most honourable, the most important and the cause of all beings, an idea to which, in all fairness, no one will take exception. In ethics too they avoid the more difficult problems such as what is ethical and what is intellectual virtue  and the whole subject of dispositions and affections. Hence they merely devote themselves to ethical exhortation, without laying down the principles according to which each individual virtue should be acquired, but indiscriminately heaping up precepts of a rather ponderous nature. Ordinary people listen to these precepts and, as you can see with your own eyes, make great progress in virtue, and a stamp of piety is imprinted on their characters, stimulating the moral disposition which grows from this sort of habituation and leading them by degrees towards the desire of the good.

Since this simple philosophy has been split up into numerous factions by its later adherents, the number of issues has increased just as in sophistry, with the result that some of these men became even  more skilful and, so to speak, more prone to creating issues than others. Indeed some of them, in the long run, became leaders of sects. Consequently, ethical instruction declined and grew dim, since none of those who wanted to be leaders of sects was able to attain theoretical precision  and since the common people became more inclined to internal strife. For there was no norm or laws on the basis of which issues could be decided.

Which at least means something.

There is a commentary by André Villey, Alexandre de Lycopolis, Contre la doctrine de Mani, Paris: Cerf 1985.  This I have not seen.

There is also a useful article by Johannes van Oort on the present state of research.[2]  An earlier draft is accessible on Academia here.

An obscure and interesting work.

  1. [1]This from Pieter W. van der Horst, “Alexander of Lycopolis on Christianity”, in: Polyhistor: Studies in the History and Historiography of Ancient Philosophy. Presented to Jaap Mansfeld on his Sixtieth Birthday, 1996, p.314, with reference “S. Lieu, Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire 1-85”. There is a Google books preview of van Horst which infuriatingly makes pages visible at random.  I have found paging down past invisible pages to a visible page, then paging back up again sometimes makes the upper pages visible again!  Link here.
  2. [2]J. Van Oort, “The Platonist Philosopher Alexander of Lycopolis on Manichaeism”, Journal of Early Christian History 2 (2012), p.86-94.

From my diary

It looks as if I will not be able to bring Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical Works on Ezekiel back into print.  This is unfortunate.

My first idea was to use Amazon KDP.  After all, I already own an ISBN, the book in PDF and cover art, all used perfectly by Lightning Source.  But KDP just won’t accept them.

KDP won’t recognise an ISBN issued by Nielsen, which is strange as that company owns Bowker, which Amazon use.  This I got round by allowing Amazon to issue me a new ISBN, and editing the PDF to insert it.

KDP won’t recognise the LSI cover template, which meant that I had to recreate the cover in their wretchedly poor online tool.  This sort of worked, although the quality was not as good.  The software is buggy, so the whole business took a lot of time.

KDP won’t accept the formatted PDF either.  It complains that the size is wrong, and that the gutter is inadequate.  It offers to “resize” to fix this.  But this merely distorts every page.  The truth seems to be that KDP wants you to enter your stuff in a Word .docx template, and leave the rest to them.

Next I moved on to  The first thing I saw was that they wanted $25 for manufacturing, where Amazon KDP wanted $9.  This would take all the profit.  They also couldn’t cope with a book which was 742 pages long either.  I uploaded the PDF, and they started complaining that the footnote point size was too small, etc.

The truth seems to be that both sites are set up to work in one specific way.  You either follow their set approach, or you experience a world of pain.  So I shall leave it alone.

I’ve continued to work on adding syntactical information to QuickLatin, my software parser.  It’s going quite well.  But it’s hard work!  The internet is really valuable in searching for multiple explanations of a construction.  Sometimes the alternative pages are clearer.

Searching for the Vulgate: one genuine text and two fakes

What do you do if you want a copy of the official Latin bible, the Vulgate?

First, some necessary background.

The Vulgate was created by St Jerome out of a mass of earlier “old Latin” translations, of variable quality, complete with a preface to many of the books.  It was then transmitted by copying down the centuries, becoming the standard medieval bible in the west, and the source for a vast amount of Dark Age and Medieval writing.  Along the way it acquired a certain amount of copyist errors – I have no idea what these are – and it also acquired punctuation and other forms of reader helps.  At the counter-reformation, with the arrival of printing, the Catholic church felt the need for an official text.  After Pope Sixtus V made some clumsy attempts at this, Pope Clement VIII produced four editions: in 1590, 1592, 1593 and 1598.  The last of these is referred to as the “Clementine Vulgate”.  This was the official version of the Bible in the Catholic Church until 1979.

Title page of the 1598 Vulgate edition.

There is a copy of this edition at Google Books here.  Here is Genesis 1:11 in that volume, where “juxta” is still printed as “iuxta”.

Over the following centuries, the text of the Clementine Vulgate was reprinted many times, and the readability improved with better fonts, text layout, and the modernisation of orthography by getting rid of the long-s (ʃ) form of the consonant “s”.

One innovation that has affected all printed books is to divide the Latin letter “I”, which represented two sounds, into the modern vowel “i” and the modern consonant “j”.  This was proposed by Gian Giorgio Trissino in a letter in 1524,[1].  It was advocated and adopted in an English book in 1634, in Charles Butler’s English Grammar.[2]  We still use this convention today.  The Vulgate was intended to be read, despite being in Latin, so copies began to appear in this form also, such as in the 1688 edition here.

The standard 19th century edition of the Vulgate, as far as I can tell, is that of Samuel Bagster.  It seems to have been created for his Biblia Sacra Polygotta, and then reprinted separately.  I have an undated copy (probably late 19th century) in my possession, with very tiny text, designed to be placed in a pocket.  The typeface is visibly worn.  The Bagster edition continued to be printed into the 20th century.

The modern equivalent is the A. Colunga – L. Turrado edition, Biblia Vulgata, BAC (1991), ISBN 978-8479140212, available for 45 euros (or equivalent) at the BAC site, and also at ($55) and (£56).  I’m not sure why it is so much cheaper in the USA.  I’ve not seen this, so I can’t say whether it uses “j” or not; but I think not.

In 2002-2005, Michael Tweedale and friends created an electronic text of the Clementine Vulgate, Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam, which was authorised by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.  This can be found online here.  The styling of the site is a little odd; the files are only visible from the left-top menu.  But they are all there.  It is a splendid piece of work, undertaken for the benefit of everyone.  It seems to be based on the Colunga edition but with corrections and it does use “j”.

Another very useful site is the, which contains online scans of the Leander van Ess edition which compares all four Clementine editions, and also includes a 1914 Hetzenauer edition (no “j” in this tho).  All this material is free and public domain.

But by the late 19th century various academics were getting restless.  The Clementine Vulgate was a practical useful book, but it was not a critical text.  It reflected 15 centuries of tweaking, but had started to drift – allegedly – from Jerome’s original.  In 1878 John Wordsworth started the Wordsworth-White edition of the Latin New Testament.  In 1907 a Benedictine edition was started.  Neither produced an edition of the complete text, but the work done fed into the “Stuttgart Vulgate”.

This means that someone wishing to purchase a Vulgate may be led astray by what I have seen called “fake vulgates”.  There are two.

The first “fake vulgate” is the Stuttgart Vulgate, edited by R. Weber and now – in its 5th edition –  by Roger Gryson.  This is a real critical edition of Jerome’s text of the Vulgate, as I understand it, based upon text-critical principles and early mss.  It has an apparatus.  But it lacks punctuation, capitals, or paragraphs, just as books did back in Jerome’s time, which makes it nearly unreadable even before the language barrier is considered.  For the half-dozen people who need to work, not with a medieval text, but the text of the 500s, it is a useful tool.  It is, indeed, not a book at all.  It’s a tool, a reference item.  Under German law it is the property of the German Bible Society, the deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, who “defend their property” with threats of lawsuits.  It is also not a Catholic organisation.

The second “fake vulgate” is the “Nova Vulgata”, a secondary consequence of the massive loss of confidence in Catholicism by the Catholic hierarchs that led to Vatican II.  This uses a great deal of Jerome’s Vulgate, derived from 20th century critical editions, but revises them in line with the Greek and Hebrew original.  It is, in reality, a new Latin translation of the bible, rather than a Vulgate.  It is officially approved, since 1972, as the standard Catholic Church Latin bible.  It can be obtained at .  I’m not sure how successful it is.  But anyone wishing to buy a Vulgate needs to avoid it.  The text may be found online here.

There is an interesting discussion of both by Ron Conte, a traditionalist Catholic, here.  Another interesting comment is that the text of 4 Esdras in the Stuttgart Vulgate is 140 verses as compared to 70 in the Clementine Vulgate, as a portion of the text was only recovered in the 19th century.

You can most easily distinguish the three texts by looking at Genesis 3:20.  Eve’s name is different in each:

  • Heva: the Clementine Vulgate.
  • Hava: the Stuttgart edition of the Vulgate.
  • Eva: the New Vulgate.

A rather useful parallel Greek, English and Clementine Vulgate in parallel columns is at here.

It’s all rather confusing.  I would like a pocket-size Clementine Vulgate, in a nice soft leather binding, properly sewn.  Does such a thing exist?


  1. [1]Thus Wikipedia which links to the text of the letter.
  2. [2]Lilo Moessner, “Chapter 10: Standardization”, in: Alexander Bergs &c (ed.), Early Modern English, p.171.

Returning to book publishing

This afternoon I sent an email to Lightning Source, who print my books, to take them out of print and close the account.  The account actually belongs to my company, which I may have to dissolve in April as a result of some legislative tax changes.

You might be able to buy copies on Amazon if you are quick!  The hardbacks will not be coming back.

But a small amount of sales has continued with the Origen Homilies in Ezekiel volume, and it would be nice to keep this accessible.

Since 2014, when I last did this sort of stuff, the world has changed.  Everybody seems to use Amazon KDP.  Lightning Source – or Ingram – was always a pain to deal with.  So this evening I have been looking back on my hard disk, and trying to set up the Origen volume in KDP.

It’s time-consuming.  I have an ISBN for each volume, yet Amazon do not recognise them.  The provider – also a pain to deal with – has since changed its offering for managing ISBNs.  I’ve been reduced to emailing them for help.

Then there is the cover.  This was done using a Lightning Source template.  Of course Amazon don’t recognise that.  I’m going to try cropping the template and uploading the raw image.  We’ll see if it works!

The apocryphal canons of a supposed apostolic council of Antioch

At the end of Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums, (Leipzig, 1902) Harnack discusses a curious little Greek text, which purports to be the canons of a council held in Antioch by the apostles.  There are nine canons.  Harnack’s work is online at Google books in English as The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, in which it begins on p.88.  He gives the Greek, but not a translation.[1]

The history of the work is quite interesting.  It was discovered in the 16th century in an “antiquissimus codex” – “a most ancient manuscript” – by Turrianus, who used it in his work Aduersus Magdeburgenses Centuriatores pro canonibus apostolorum et epistolis decretalibus pontificum apostolicorum, in five books, written in defence of the False Decretals against the protestant authors of the Magdeburg Centuries.  This was printed in 1572 in Florence, and in 1573 in Paris and in Cologne.  His discussion is in book 1, chapter 25 (p.123 of the Cologne 1573 edition, online here).  He gives the heading and a couple of excerpts in Greek, but of the remainder he gives only extracts in his own Latin translation.

Turrianus, p.123.

The manuscript that he used is unknown today, and the work attracted no further attention.  For his pains Turrianus was accused of forging the text.[2]

In the 19th century a slightly different copy of the text was discovered by J.W.Bickell in a 14th manuscript in Munich (Monac. Gr. 380).  He printed the Greek, with apparatus, and with a German translation, in his Geschichte des Kirchenrechts, 1843, vol. 1, p.101-4 and 138-143.  (Online at Google books here).

Bickell, p.138.

I’ve excerpted the relevant pages and put them in PDF form here: Bickell-Geschichte_des_Kirchenrechts_vol1-101-104+138-145.

As you can see, the German is printed in Fraktur, which makes reading his material rather awkward.  Fortunately Google Books can recognise Fraktur, even if the rest of us cannot, and I have copied their OCR of his translation and readded the punctuation:

Außzug des heiligen Märtyrers Pamphilos aus der Synode der Apostel in Antiochia d.h. aus den Synodalbeschlüssen der selben die von ihm in der Bibliothek des Origenes aufgefunden sind.

1) Nach unsers großen Gottes und Heilandes Jesu Christi Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt nannten die damaligen Menschen diejenigen die an sie glaubten, Galiläer.  Nachdem sich daher die Apostel in Antiochia in Syrien versammelt hatten, verordneten sie zuerst daß die Galiläer Christen genannt werden sollten, mit dem Beinamen heiliges Volk königliches Priesterthum nach der Gnade der heil Taufe.

2) Daß die Getauften nicht beschnitten werden sollen nach dem Gesetz der Juden, da die göttliche Taufe eine nicht mit Händen gemachte Beschneidung ist in der Ausziehung des alten Menschen, der die alte Sünde von sich geworfen hat.

3) Daß von jedem Volk und Geschlecht die welche durch den rechten Glauben gerettet sind aufgenommen werden sollen, und das Wort der Wahrheit in alle Völker verkündet werde.

4) Daß die Geretteten sich nicht mehr verirren zu Götzenbildern, sondern die gottmenschliche unbefleckte, nicht mit Händen gemachte Säule des wahren Gottes und unsers Heilandes Jesu Christi und seiner Diener entgegenbilden sollen den Götzenbildern und den Juden, und sich nicht mehr verirren zu den Götzenbildern noch sich gleichstellen den Juden.

5) Daß die Christen sich nicht gleichstellen sollen den Juden in Hinsicht auf Enthaltung von Speisen, sondern sogar Schweinefleisch essen dürfen, da der Herr den Ausspruch gethan hat, daß das was in den Mund geht, nicht den Menschen beflecket, sondern was aus dem Menschen ausgeht, als aus dem Herzen herauskommend, und daß man nicht nach dem Buchstaben folge, sondern im geistigen und höhern Sinne.  Denn die viehische Synagoge der Juden verabscheut das Schwein, ist aber in Bosheit befangen nach dem prophetischen Wort, daß sie sich mit Schweinefleisch gesättigt und die Überbleibsel ihren Kindern zurückgelassen hätten.   Auf gleiche Weise ist es den Christen nicht verwehrt Schalthiere und ungeschuppte Fische zu essen.  Denn man sieht daß er auch so auf geistige Weise auf den thörichten Sinn derselben, die wie eine Schale die Lehren der Wahrheit von sich werfen, hingedeutet hat.

6) Daß die Christen nicht das Geld lieben sollen, da der Herr gesagt hat: sammelt Euch nicht Schätze auf Erden wo Motten und Rost sie zerstören, und besonders durch ungerechte Mittel. Denn es steht geschrieben: niemand kann zweien Herren dienen, und ihr könnt nicht Gott dienen und dem Mammon.

7) Daß die Christen nicht unterthan seien der Gefräßigkeit, und sich enthalten üppiger Schauspiele, und nicht voreilig schwören: da der Herr geboten hat überhaupt nicht zu schwören, weder bei dem Himmel, weil er der Thron Gottes ist, noch bei der Erde, weil sie der Schemel seiner Füße ist, noch bei Jerusalem, weil sie die Stadt des großen Königs ist, noch bei deinem Haupte sollst du schwören, weil du nicht Ein Haar weiß oder schwarz machen kannst, sondern Eure Rede soll sein ja, ja, nein, nein, was aber darüber, ist das ist vom Üebel.

8) Daß sich alle Christen enthalten sollen der Possen, der Zoten und Lästerung, und was sonst noch für heidnische Sitten.  Und daß sie sich ihnen (den Heiden) nicht gleichstellen sollen, damit die Einfältigen nicht verführt werden.

9) Daß die Christen nicht Blut essen sollen, sondern sich enthalten des Bluts und des Erstickten und der Unzucht.

The Greek text was printed again by Paul de Lagarde in Reliquiae juris ecclesiastici antiquissimi, graece, 1856 (online here) on p.18-20, with corrections.  Again let me give a PDF of those pages: Lagarde-Reliquiae_juris_ecclesiastici_antiquissimi-graece-18-20

It was also reprinted by Pitra, Historia et monumenta Juris eccl. Graecorum (Rome, 1864), I, 88-91 (online here); with a Latin translation made by a certain Achilles Statius in the 16th century.  Usefully Pitra gives a list of manuscripts (which Bickell did not do):

  • Vallicellan. F. 10, f. 24-26, membranae, saec. XI.
  • Vallicellan. F. 86, f.162, 163, versio latina ex praecedente, manu Achillis Statii, ipsoque auctore qui floruit a. 1524-1581.
  • Florentin. laurent. plut. X, code. 1, f. 3, saec. XIII.
  • Coislin 211, f. 278, chartaceus, saec XI.
  • Monacensis 380 bombycin. saec. XVI.

A French translation is given by Paul Lejay, “Le Concile apostolique d’ Antioche,” in: Revue du Clergé Français, 36, October (1903), 343-55.  This is online here, but I’ll give the article in PDF also: Lejay-Revue_du_clerge_francais_36_1903

The French translation reads as follows:

Extrait fait par le saint martyr Pamphile du synode des apôtres à Antioche; c’est-à-dire, partie des canons synodiques eux-mêmes, trouvés par lui dans la bibliothèque d’Origène.

1° Après la résurrection et l’ascension du grand Dieu Jésus-Christ, notre Sauveur (1), ceux qui croyaient en lui furent appelés « Galiléens » par les contemporains (2). S’étant rendus à Antioche de Syrie, les apôtres décidèrent que les Galiléens s’appelleraient d’abord « chrétiens » (3), et que « race sainte », « sacerdoce royal » (4), suivant la grâce du saint baptême, seraient des surnoms.

2° Ne pas circoncire les baptisés suivant la législation des Juifs, attendu que le divin baptême est une circoncision non faite de main d’homme, dans le dépouillement (5) du vieil homme (6) rejetant l’antiquité du péché (7).

3° Recevoir de toute nation et race les hommes sauvés dans la foi orthodoxe, et annoncer à toutes les nations (8) la parole de la Vérité.

4° Que les chrétiens ne s’attachent pas à l’argent (9), le Maître ayant dit : « Ne thésaurisez pas pour vous des trésors «sur la terre que le ver et la rouille anéantissent (10); surtout « pas des trésors de revenus injustes (11), car il est écrit: «Personne ne peut servir deux maîtres, et vous ne pouvez. « pas servir Dieu et Mammon (12). »

5° Que les chrétiens ne soient pas troublés à cause de la gloutonnerie et qu’ils se tiennent éloignés des théâtres licencieux et qu’ils ne jurent pas avec précipitation, le Maître ayant dit de ne pas jurer du tout, ni par le ciel, parce qu’il est le trône de Dieu, ni par la terre, parce qu’elle est l’escabeau de ses pieds, ni par Jérusalem, parce qu’elle est la ville du grand roi ; « et ne jure pas par ta tête parce que tu ne peux « faire un seul cheveu blanc ou noir ; que votre discours soit : « Oui, oui ; non, non ; le surplus de cela vient du « malin (1).»

6° Que tous les chrétiens se tiennent éloignés de la bouffonnerie (2), des discours honteux et du blasphème (3), ainsi que de toutes mœurs des Gentils; et qu’ils ne s’assimilent pas aux Gentils pour que les simples ne soient pas trompés.

7° Que les chrétiens ne mangent pas le sang, mais s’abstiennent du sang et des bêtes étouffées et de la fornication (4).

8° Que les hommes sauvés ne s’égarent plus vers les idoles, mais reproduisent l’image de la Colonne divine et humaine, pure, non faite de main d’homme, du Dieu véritable, notre Sauveur Jésus-Christ, et de ses serviteurs (5), à l’opposé des idoles et des Juifs; et qu’ils ne s’égarent plus vers les idoles ni qu’ils ne s’assimilent aux Juifs.

9° Que les chrétiens ne s’assimilent pas aux Juifs à cause de l’abstinence des mets, mais qu’ils mangent du porc, le Maître ayant prononcé que les choses qui entrent dans la bouche ne souillent pas l’homme, mais celles qui sortent de la bouche comme celles qui viennent du cœur (6) ; et que l’on ne suive pas la loi, mais que l’on se conduise spirituellement et avec élévation (pneumatikw~j kai\ a)nagwgikw~j). Car la stupide synagogue des Juifs exècre le porc, mais est possédée par la méchanceté, suivant la parole prophétique: « lisse sont «rassasiés de porc et ils ont laissé le reste à leurs petits(7).»  Semblablement, les poissons à coquille et sans écailles ne sont pas défendus aux chrétiens (1); car celui-là entend aussi de cette manière spirituelle qui propose des figures au cœur inintelligent des Juifs, lesquels rejettent à cause des écailles les oracles de la vérité (2).

Let me give a quick Google Translation of that into English:

Extract made by the holy martyr Pamphilus of the synod of the apostles at Antioch; that is, part of the synod canons themselves, discovered by him in the library of Origen.

1. After the resurrection and ascension of the great God Jesus Christ, our Saviour, those who believed in him were called “Galileans” by their contemporaries. At Antioch in Syria, the apostles first decided that the Galileans would be called “Christians”, and that a “holy race”, a “royal priesthood”, according to the grace of holy baptism, would be their surnames.

2. Do not circumcise the baptized according to the law of the Jews, since the divine baptism is a circumcision not made by human hands, taking off the old self, rejecting the old way of sin.

3.  Let them receive, from all nations and races, those men saved in the Orthodox faith, and proclaim to all nations the word of Truth.

4.  Let Christians not be attached to money, as the Master said: “Do not lay up treasure for yourself on earth where worms and rust destroy;” above all not treasure unjustly obtained, because it is written: “No one can serve two masters, and you cannot serve God and Mammon.”

5. Let Christians not be afflicted because of gluttony and let them stay away from the licentious theatres and let them not swear in haste, because the Master said not to swear at all, not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, nor by earth, because it is hit footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great king;  “And do not swear by your head because you cannot make a single hair white or black; let your speech be Yes, or No; the rest of it comes from the evil one.”

6. Let all Christians stay away from buffoonery, shameful speeches and blasphemy, as well as from all the customs of the Gentiles; and do not assimilate to the Gentiles so that the simple will not be deceived.

7.  Let Christians not eat blood, but abstain from blood and strangled beasts and from fornication.

8.  Let saved men no longer go astray towards the idols, but reproduce the image of the divine and human nature, pure, not made with human hands, of the true God, our Saviour Jesus Christ , and of his servants, the opposite of idols and Jews; and let them no longer go astray towards the idols or assimilate to the Jews.

9.  Let Christians not assimilate to the Jews because of abstinence from the dishes, but let them eat pork, because the Master pronounced that the things which enter the mouth do not defile the man, but those coming out of the mouth like those coming from the heart; and do not follow the law, but behave spiritually and with elevation (πνευματικῶς καὶ ἀναγωγικῶς).  Because the stupid synagogue of the Jews hates pork, but is possessed by wickedness, according to the prophetic saying: “They are satiated with pork and they have left the rest to their young.”  Similarly, shellfish without scales are not forbidden to Christians; for he also understands in this spiritual way which proposes parables to the unintelligent hearts of the Jews, who reject because of scales the oracles of truth.

The last sentence is apparently pretty unintelligible, in the opinion of both Lejay and Turrianus.

The work is obviously not genuine.  It’s made up of extracts from the bible, so it’s a cento.

The most interesting passage is the one with which it starts, referring to Christians being called “Galilieans”.  This brings to mind the work of Julian the Apostate, Against the Galileans, (362 AD) in which he tried to rename the Christians for his own purposes.  It’s hard to think of another period in which the reference would mean anything, so probably this dates the work to the late 4th or early 5th century.  Julian’s work was still circulating almost a century later, so much so that Cyril of Alexandria was forced to write a huge work in at least 20 books to refute it.  That busy prelate would most certainly only have undertaken such a labour if it was necessary, and so we could date these “canons of the synod of Antioch” to that period.  The reference in canon 8 to the two natures of Christ likewise suggests a 5th century date.

  1. [1]My thanks to the kind correspondent who drew my attention to this.
  2. [2]So Pitra.

From my diary

No blogging in the last week.  On Monday 6th January I had a brand new and rather expensive Dell G5 Inspiron 5090 desktop delivered, with screen. I spent the week trying to set it up.  It’s time-consuming, isn’t it!  Sadly by the end of the week I had determined that there was a problem with it.  After three frustrating days of dealing with Dell, I have been promised a refund, and I have just finished boxing it up this evening for a return.  The nature of the problem makes clear that the unit was never tested or inspected at the factory.  It is a beautiful-looking machine.  But there is no getting around carelessness at the factory.  Nor is it possible to remedy matters when nobody at Dell speaks English as a first language.  I shall have to look for another machine; but I can’t face that for a week or two.

This week I have been working on the new Latin programme.  I feel that it  needs a kind of context-sensitive pop-up help.  The brief display of grammar is fine.  But sometimes you need examples, and a page or so of text.  The Eclipse, the editor used for Java software development, has such a feature in its intellisense, and I have patterned it on this.  It’s a devil to debug mouse movements, however!

As part of this, I have been taking Morwood’s Oxford Latin Grammar to bed with me, and absorbing some of the syntax.  It’s a remarkably concise guide, yet useful as well.  However it is too brief sometimes.  The old Allen and Greenough grammar still has much to offer, while being fuller, and I bought a copy of this in printed form, for bedside reading.

I also had a go at finding a printed Latin bible.  I thought that it might be nice to read some of the psalms, or the gospels, in Latin.  Your Latin always improves if you use it to read stuff.  But all I can find is complete copies of the Vulgate, and at a  massive price – $50 or more.  I had expected that there would be a glut of these, from Catholic churches.  But it seems not.  Maybe I should produce something myself!

But I leave the best for last.  This evening I have learned that Matthew R Crawford together with Aaron P. Johnson has completed a draft translation into English of the whole of what exists of Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Julianum.  This was a point-by-point refutation, with verbatim quotation, of Julian the Apostate’s polemic Against the Galileans (i.e. the Christians – isn’t it odd how those opposed to Christians so often have to rewrite history?), in at least 20 books.  But only books 1-10 survive, plus a few fragments of later books.  It’s a fascinating work, and I hope that the translation is written in such a way that we can read it and follow Cyril’s thought, rather than use it as a “crib” for the Greek.  It will take them a couple more years to get it fit to publish, however.  Cyril’s Greek is diffuse and hard to render.  This was probably a useful characteristic in political terms – how do you criticise someone when you can’t understand? – but not great for us.  It’s a truly valuable thing to do.  It will kick-start a world of scholarship on the late 4th/early 5th century.

The text of De Solstitia et De aequinoctia (CPL 2277)

I’ve written a couple of posts already on this obscure late-antique text.  The text was first printed in 1530 as part of the works of Chrysostom – it is, indeed, transmitted in Latin as part of a collection of 38 sermons attributed to him.  The only other edition is that of Botte in 1932, printed as an appendix to Les origenes de la Noel et de l’Epiphanie.  This is not a critical edition, but rather is based on three early manuscripts, and the 1530 text – all that Botte had accessible to him.

I had I’m not going to have time to do more with this interesting text.  I had originally thought to prepare a translation, but in reality I am already overcommitted in that area.  But I thought that I would make available what I have prepared.  My first step is always to prepare an electronic Latin text: in this case I ended up with two.

Botte, 1932

  • Botte-Les_origines_de_la_noel_et_de_lepiphanie-1932-de_solstitia (PDF) – pages 88-105 of Botte’s book, containing the text and his comments upon it.  He mistakenly says that the Troyes 523 manuscript contains the name of Pontius Maximianus – we have already seen that it is Pontius Maximus.
  • De solstitia (.docx) – a transcription of Botte’s text, with a few modifications.  I have restored the capital letters for proper names, and also added into the text the commas from the 1530 edition.  These two tweaks make the text infinitely easier to read.
  • De solstitia (PDF) – the same file saved as a PDF, for those who can’t read a .docx.

Erasmus, 1530

I hope that these will be useful!  One day, perhaps, I may come back to these myself!

“OMG I’m So Hungover” – Ogham Annotations in a 9th century copy of Priscian

The Anglandicus blog has an amusing 2014 article on Massive Scribal Hangovers: One Ninth Century Confession.  The whole post is well worth a read on Irish marginal notes in manuscripts.

One such manuscript has a great number of these marginalia.  Below is the upper portion of folio 204 in St. Gall 904 (or Codex Sangallensis 204, if we choose to be formal).  This was written in Ireland in 851 AD.  It contains a copy of Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae, a rather dry text.  The manuscript is online here; folio 204 is here.

Ogham note in top margin of St Gall 904, f.204 – “Latheirt” (= ale-killed)

At the top, where I have drawn a red box, is an Ogham marginal note.  This gives us a single word in Old Irish and reads simply “Latheirt“.  The meaning of this is given to us by an old Irish dictionary, Sanas Cormaic (Cormac’s glossary), itself perhaps composed in the 9th century.  An English translation of this is online at here, and our word is on page 102.

This tells us that Lait(h) = Ale, the stuff consumed copiously in Northern society at this season, plus Irt = killed.  So Latheirt means “ale-killed”, ale has killed us.  The rather unimaginative translator adds that the Latin meaning is crapula, or “drunkenness”.

In short, our scribe has a massive hangover.  It is unlikely that this was assisting his perusal of Priscian.

The St Gall manuscript is interesting because of its many Old Irish marginalia.  The website tells us that it contains “over 9,000 glosses, among them 3,478 in the Old Irish language. The basis for the reconstruction of the Old Irish language.”

The Anglandicus blog seems to be only occasionally updated, but is well worth looking at.  The importance of the Irish monks to the dissemination of ancient texts in Europe can hardly be overestimated, and such marginal notes take us directly to their state of mind while doing so.