A curious quotation of Matthew 17:19 in Latin

In chapter 10 of John the Deacon’s 9th century “Life of St Nicholas” (BHL 6105), we find the following quotation from the gospel of Matthew:

Porro nemini hoc incredibile videatur, quia salvatoris est ista promissio, dicentis, “Si habueritis fidem sicut granum sinapis, dicetis monti,  ‘Transfer te,’ et transferetur.”

Moreover let this not seem incredible to anyone, because that promise is from the Saviour, who says, “If you have faith like a mustard seed, you shall say to the mountain, ‘Move yourself’, and it will be moved.”

This is Matthew 17:19, of course.  And yet… if I look at the Weber-Gryson 5th edition of the Vulgate, the text reads differently:

dicetis monti huic ‘transi hinc’ et transibit.

If I look at Sabatier’s edition of the Vetus Latina, it reads the same.

Nor is this all.  Collating the 4 editions and the 10 manuscripts that I am using for John the Deacon reveals a wide range of readings:

  • “dicetis monti,  transfer te, et transferetur” – Fal., M (corrector adds “et” before “dicetis”), O, W, L;
  • “dicetis monti transferre et transferi” – Corsi;
  • “dicetis monti, transferre et transferetur” – P, B, A;
  • “dicetis monti, transfer et transferetur” – G;
  • “dicetis huic monti transfer te et transferetur” – D;
  • “dicentes monti transfer et transferetur” – C;
  • “et dixeritis monti huic, te transfer, transferetur” – Mom., Lipp.;

It’s actually slightly tricky to collate.  The difference between “transfer te” (which can look like “transferte”) and “transferre” is minimal in some cases.  It’s not that easy to decide what the manuscript says, in one or two cases.

Googling produced some interesting results.  But it also identified what is probably the source for this translation of Mt. 17:19.  For this is exactly what appears in a text written around 374 AD.

The “Life of Anthony” by Athanasius of Alexandria was an influential text; and it was important enough to attract, not one, but two independent translations into Latin in the same time period.   Both are edited in the Corpus Christianorum Series Latina vol. 170, ed. Pascal Bertrand and Lois Gandt, who helpful produce a parallel text of both against the Greek at the end.

One of these, by a certain Evagrius of Antioch (discussed at Purple Motes here), is the one with our text.  The CCSL text is (p. 91, chapter 83):

83.  Hucusque Antonius.  Sed nos minime convenit diffidere tam, grande miraculum per hominem potuisse portendi.  Salvatoris enim promissio est, ista dicentis: Si habueritis fidem ut granum sinapis, dicetis huic monti, ‘Transfer te’, et transferetur.

transfer te] transferre A2, AASS
transferetur] transfertur G1

Note that the “promise of the saviour” is also in here.  I would suggest that John the Deacon had this in mind when he made his “Life of St Nicholas”.

The variants in Evagrius are likewise interesting – that “transferre” is not the majority reading but does indeed appear, and has made its way into the Acta Sanctorum.  It seems to be a corruption of “transfer te”.

The other early translation is anonymous, but reads:

dicetis monti huic, ‘Transi hinc illic’, et transferetur.

The CCSL tells me of two editions of Evagrius of Antioch.  The first appeared in 1615, from Heribert Rosweyde in his Vitas Patrum.  This is online here.  It’s the same as the CCSL.  The second was produced by Montfaucon in 1698, as part of his edition of the works of Athanasius, and was reprinted in the PG 26, col. 959, here. This gives yet another version of the words.

‘Hinc transmigra’ et transmigrabit.

But I discover an earlier edition, in Cologne in 1548, in an edition of the works of Athanasius.  Chapter 83 is on f.172v (online here).  This reads exactly the same as the CCSL text.

Interestingly the google search also revealed that the same text as Nicholas appears in the unique manuscript of the first Latin translation of Barlaam and Josaphat, edited in José Martínez Gázquez, Hystoria Barlae et Iosaphat (Bibl. Nacional de Napóles VIII.B.10), CSIC (1997), where the epilogue (p.193, here) gives:

dicetis monti huic: ‘transfer te’ et transferetur.

I understand that the Latin version of Evagrius was a very widely read text.  Clearly it was being read in Naples in the 9th century, when John the Deacon wrote his “Life of St Nicholas”, drawing upon Greek sources just as Evagrius had done before him.


From my diary

Tomorrow I hope to go up to Cambridge University Library.  I’ve applied online to renew my card, paid them the money they see fit to exact, discovered a Facebook “memory” that tells me that, ten years ago, I was doing exactly the same thing.  While there I hope to look at a Corpus Christianorum volume.  I would also like to look at some of the “Cornish Saints” series of Gilbert H. Doble.

I’m still busy with John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  I have been collating the Latin text against the four editions and the oldest ten manuscripts to which I have access.  Today I am working my way through chapter 11.  Ahead lie the vast wildernesses of chapters 12 and 13.  I also need to recollate chapters 2-4.  As with everything else, I’m learning as I go, and the way I collated those chapters isn’t what I would do now.

I have the editions and manuscripts open in Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, and I’m adding a bookmark for each chapter as I reach it.  The longer I work on the text, the more familiar it becomes.  So it takes a while to open everything up.  At night, instead of shutting down my PC, I put it into sleep mode, so I don’t lose everything.

But it is summer.  The golden light streaming through the windows makes it hard to spend days on the computer.  Some days I only collate a couple of lines.  But then what does it matter?  It will never be formally published, but rather released on the web.  I’d never intended to spend so much time on all this – nearly a year and a half now.  But it feels worthwhile, and it’s certainly something that I am unlikely to do again.


Closing the brothels – the Vandals in Carthage

An interesting passage in Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization IV: The Age of Faith,: (1950), p.30.  The author summarises an argument by Salvian of Marseilles, ca. 450 AD, De Gubernatione Dei, “On the Government of God”.

The Vandal chieftain Gaiseric, on capturing Christian Carthage, was shocked to find a brothel at almost every comer; he closed these dens, and gave the prostitutes a choice between marriage and banishment. …24

An interesting statement, as part of Salvian’s theme on how much better the Germans were morally than the Romans.  But what does Salvian actually say?

The footnote, sadly, is to a number of sentences:

24.  Salvian. iv, 15;  vii, passim; and excerpts in Heitland, W. E, Agricola, 423. Boissier. II. 410, 420, and Bury, Later Roman Empire, 307.

This makes verification difficult.  Google makes it harder by hiding the fact that some of these books are freely available at the Internet Archive, in order to sell copies.  The Agricola isn’t relevant; the Bury page appears to be wrong.  Fortunately all these sources are old, and so out of copyright, and it is Boissier, p.420, who appears to be Durant’s actual source.  He even thoughtfully gives a proper reference:

Surtout ils sont chastes; c’est une honte chez les Goths d’être un débauché; chez les Romains, c’est un honneur. Le premier soin de Genséric, quand il eut pris Carthage, fut de fermer les lieux infâmes, qui se trouvaient à tous lès coins de rue, et d’éloigner ou de marier les courtisanes, et c’est à un barbare que la ville de saint Augustin doit d’avoir été purifiée.[1]

Above all, they are chaste: it is a disgrace among the Goths to be a debauchee; among the Romans, it is an honour. The first care of Genseric, when he had taken Carthage, was to close the infamous places, which were on every street corner, and to exile or marry off the prostitutes, and it is by a barbarian that the city of St. Augustine had to be purified.[1]

[1]  VII, 20, 84.

I could not find in Boissier any indication of what edition he used.  But I consulted the Sanford translation (1930), and found nothing relevant in book 7, ch. 20.  I’m not sure what “84” indicates.  But chapter divisions vary among editions.  In Sanford, in ch. 22, on p.219, I found this:

22. … I said that the cities of Africa were full of monstrous vices, and especially the queen and mistress of them all, but that the Vandals were not polluted. … For they have removed from every part of Africa the vice of effeminacy, they have even abhorred intercourse with harlots, and have not only shunned or done away with it for the time being, but have made it absolutely cease to exist. …, they removed unchastity while preserving the unchaste; they did not kill the unfortunate women, lest they should stain their prevention of vice with cruelty …. They ordered and compelled all prostitutes to marry; they transformed harlots into wives, … In this, indeed, provision was made not only that women who could not live without husbands should have them, but also that through their domestic guardians those who did not know how to protect themselves should be safe. While the marriage bond constantly bound them, even if the customary unchastity of their former lives enticed them to sin, their husbands’ guardianship should keep them from going astray.

Which is all well and good, but does not justify the claims, that there was a brothel on every street corner, and that closing the brothels was the first act of Genseric on taking Carthage.  I was unable to find these elsewhere in Salvian.


When did the free bread stop in Constantinople?

A feature of imperial Rome was the “annona”, the distribution of free bread to the plebs.  This naturally created a large but idle population, and created servility out of a free people.  “Free stuff” tends to do that.  It is remarkable that, when Constantinople was created, the emperor decided to institute a similar system there.  The population of Constantinople duly increased. The grain to fund this came from Egypt.  It is interesting that even in the (medieval) Life of St Nicholas, there is a memory of requisitioned ships from Alexandria, bearing grain for the capital.

But when did this free distribution stop?

The answer may be found in the Chronicon Paschale, which has the following entry in the reign of Heraclius for 618 AD (taken from the TTH translation, p.164):

618. Indiction 6, year 8, the 7th post-consulship of Heraclius Augustus.

And from 22nd inclusive of the month January it is recorded as year 6 of the reign of Heraclius II Constantine.

In this year the recipients of the state bread were requested for 3 coins (nomismata) for each loaf as a levy. And after everyone had provided this, straightway in the month August of the same indiction 6 the provision of this state bread was completely suspended.

As far as I know there is no subsequent mention of the “state bread”.

In this, as in so much, the reign of Heraclius marks the end of the Roman period and the beginning of the medieval Greek state.  The Greeks still continued to call themselves “Romans”, but it was a very different world.

Heraclius had little choice in the matter.  At this time Egypt was under Persian control.  There was no grain to be had.  It is a nice touch, tho, that he charged every recipient a fee.  Doubtless they paid, expecting it to be a one-off levy.  Doubtless the emperor already knew that the distribution would not continue.


From my diary – more on the textual criticism of John the Deacon

Last weekend I started reworking some code in QuickLatin, in order to allow me to add syntax notes on the fly, rather than having to break off and make code changes every time.  This went well, but is only partly done.  I had to break off early in the week to attend to other things, which left little time.

So I returned little-by-little to the tedious but mundane task of collating the manuscripts of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  In principle you just go for it.  You “get into the zone” and the lines fly by.  Sadly the days in which I used to dose myself up with masses of diet Coke and work far into the night are gone, so each day I only collate a few lines.  That means that it takes ages.  But by steady plodding I have reached the end of chapter 7.

Screenshot of Word document of collation

By the time that I reached the end of chapter 5, I had 6 obvious locations in the text where there was textual variation that might divide the manuscripts into families.  Unfortunately two of these – starting “hactenus” and “trade” – proved to have no value.

These were sentences or clauses that were missing from one early witness.  I thought that if I could find other manuscripts with the same lacuna, this would show that they were copies.  Sadly these were few.

I was uncomfortable working with just four locations for comparison.  These did produce some division in the manuscripts, but I was finding too many “mixed” families.  Instinct suggested that I was probably not doing this correctly.  So I pressed on, noting possible other locations for comparision, and marking them with a header starting “VARIANT”.  That means that I can navigate quickly to them in the Word document.

Chapter 6 only gave me one more worthwhile location for comparison, but chapter 7 gave me four.  That’s good.  But I will press on.

It’s also obvious that all the early editions are bad.  Mombritius in 1477-8 has a defective text.  Lippomano in 1553 basically copies him, but has fixed a few places.  Falconius in 1751 has made arbitrary changes all over the place, all worthless or worse.  Corsi’s modern edition is not a critical text but is far better than them all, even though as sources he only had one manuscript (in Berlin) and Falconius.

It’s interesting that very few indeed of the variants involve any change of meaning. I notice this because I revise the English translation as I go along.  I made the translation originally from Falconius, before I came across the awful mess that is chapters 12-13, too great to ignore, even for someone uninterested in text critical issues.  Then I revised it against Mombritius.  Now I revise it again against the text that I create as I go along; but the changes are few.

One variant was interesting.  Nicholas “regionis illius pontificalem accepit infulam”, received the pontifical mitre of that country.  In Mombritius this is “insula”, i.e. island.  Falconius has “infula”, but I misread it and wrote “insula” here too.  All the manuscripts have “infulam”, including the Berlin manuscript that Corsi worked from:

But Corsi misread this when preparing his Italian translation (prior to making his edition), and he translates this as “ricevette le insegne pontificali”, received the pontifical insignia.

I certainly never knew that the word “infula” existed.  I googled “pontificalis insula” and I found a match, or so I thought here, where we find  “desiderabat enim pontificalem insulam deponere”, “he desired to lay down the pontifical ‘insula'”.

But I had neglected to look up a line and see “effundens”, with the “f” indistinguishable from “s”.  So is this “insulam” or “infulam”?  Other texts with “pontificalem insulam” do exist.  The meaning is “pontifical insignia”.

Luckily I noticed, while collating.  An “infula” was originally a fillet of cloth, or a ribband, worn in the hair of a priest.  In later ecclesiastical usage it refers – I think – to a part of the mitre, and so is used for the mitre itself.

I could wish that there was a site dedicated to pictures of ecclesiastical apparel, labelled with names!

I’ll press on into chapter 8, and then think about whether to have another go at classifying the manuscripts.



Making Arabic Literature Accessible – Joep Lameer

I was delighted to hear that somebody had sorted out Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, and produced an English translation.  This was a Herculean job, and the man who did it was Dutch scholar Joep Lameer.  I was even more delighted to hear that he is at work on translating Sezgin’s Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, and has produced four volumes already.  I find that he is doing a whole raft of useful things, using a rare combination of skills and dedication, particularly with reference to Islamic philosophy.

I was curious to know how somebody ends up doing all this.  In response to my enquiry, Dr Lameer very kindly sent me an outline of himself and his work, which I reproduce here.

PhD Arabic Leiden 1992; I lived and worked in Holland, France, Iran, and, since 2007, again Holland, mostly outside academia but publishing books and articles nonetheless. My focus is the history of Islamic philosophy and logic, mostly epistemology. I work with Arabic and Persian sources.

My translation of Brockelmann’s Geschichte der Arabische Litteratur (History of the Arabic Written Tradition. 6 vols, 2016-2019)  turned out to be a success, so Brill Publishers decided to publish Fuat Sezgin’s 17-volume Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums in English translation as well (The Arabic Writing Tradition, an Historical Survey). So far, three volumes have been published.   I spend most of my time on this. Nevertheless, I am also working with young Iranian scholars on two text editions: the Physics of Abu l-‘Abbas Lawkari’s Bayan al-haqq (a philosophical encyclopaedia by a second-generation student of Avicenna). This is an Arabic text; the other is a 25-page Shi’a creed by Nasir al-Din Tusi, Fusul dar usul, which we shall publish in Persian (original), two ancient Arabic translations, and an English translation by me. Besides, I am working on an inventory of all the manuscripts of Abu Nasr Farabi’s works on logic with a scholar from Germany. If I had more time I would do more, especially on the term tasdiq in epistemology (I’m sure you know Cantwell-Smith’s “Faith as tasdiq”).[1]

That is about it. Oh, I almost forgot: I recently also oversaw the second, completed edition of C.A. Storey’s Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey in 5 volumes and one Index volume. And I also just submitted an article on extant Persian – Arabic and Arabic – Persian translations of philosophical texts in the libraries of Iran. It will be part of a future volume in a series on philosophy in the Islamic world by Ulrich Rudolph and Peter Adamson.

I think this is a simply remarkable body of work, using skills that most of us can only dream of.  Well done!

  1. [1]W. Cantwell-Smith, “Faith as Taṣdīq”, In: Parviz Morewedge, Islamic Philosophical Theology, State University of NY (1979), p. 96-119.

Fundamental Reference Works for the Study of Arabic Literature

Arabic literature is a closed book to most of us, and it is hard to know where to start, where to find out what exists. People refer to “the Hadith”, but where would you find this?

In fact there is an incredibly useful summary of the reference works to use, which I came across a couple of days ago, on p.xiii-xiv of P.Y. Skreslet & R. Skreslet, The Literature of Islam: A Guide to the Primary Sources in English Translation, (2006).  The book itself looks excellent, and I have just ordered a copy.  The Google Books Preview is here, but I cannot say how much is visible at any moment.  So here is that basic overview of where to start.

This does not cover Arabic Christian Literature, for which G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Litteratur (5 vols) remains the key source.

Those who share a bibliographer’s concern for the analysis of a given literature should be aware of a few of the indispensable sources in Islamic studies dealing with this discipline.

One of the great bibliographers of all time lived in the city of Baghdad in the tenth century of the Common Era (all dates in this volume are stated according to the Western calendar). He was Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Nadim (d. ca. 990), son of a prominent bookseller, probably attached to the court or to the libraries of noble citizens as a savant or consultant. Al-Nadim created the first comprehensive bibliography of Arabic literature, meticulously classified according to his own complex system, which was based upon the enumeration of the sciences by the early Islamic philosophers. He called it Fihrist al-‘ulum or Index of the Sciences; it is also known by the title Kitab al-fihrist al-nadim, or Book of the Index of al-Nadim (an-nah-DEEM). The work is divided into ten major classes by subject area, within which authors are listed chronologically; a bio-bibliographical entry for each author provides as much as was known of his full name and genealogy, information and anecdotes about his life, and a listing of all of his extant works. Al-Nadim emphasizes that he is personally acquainted with the vast majority of these works and reports information received from others with attribution. Although regrettably many of the works al-Nadim mentions have not survived, the Fihrist is still an invaluable source for the first three-and-a-half centuries of Islamic learning.

There is a Wikipedia article for this here.  An English translation of the Fihrist was prepared by Bayard Dodge, The Fihrist of Al-Nadim: A Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture, Columbia University Press (1970).

Specialists in Islamic literature must make the effort to become conversant with Carl Brockelmann’s classic of Orientalist scholarship, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur.2 It is partly a narrative history, but chiefly an encyclopedia of entries on individual Arab writers and their work. Vol. 1 is organized chronologically, then by type/genre of literature (or subject matter), then geographically; vol. 2 organizes first by chronology, then geography, then genre or subject. Indexes for authors, titles, and the European editors of texts are found in the third supplemental volume (after the entries on the modern era up to 1939). Even those who read German easily find Brockelmann’s work challenging to use, thanks to his difficult systems of abbreviation and transliteration, the lack of cross-references, the relationship between the supplements and the original volumes, and the proliferation of addenda and corrigenda.

There are seven volumes of Brockelmann;  vol. 1 (1898); vol. 2 (1902); Supplement vol. 1; vol. 2; vol. 3; and a second edition of the first two volumes, referring to the supplements, in two volumes.  It is indeed impenetrable.  An English translation of the whole thing, cleaned up, expanded and generally made usable, was made by Joep Lameer, History of the Arabic Written Tradition, Brill (2016), in 2 volumes with 4 volumes of supplements.

In the early 1960s Fuat Sezgin, a brilliant Turkish scholar resident in Germany, began to update and revise Brockelmann’s work to incorporate many newly discovered materials and manuscripts. Sezgin ended up writing an enormous and entirely new work, dealing especially with the sciences (mathematics, astronomy, geography/cartography, medicine, chemistry, etc.) and is considered the leading authority on that literature. His nine-volume work, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, was published in 1967-1984, with an index volume in 1995; vols. 10-12 followed in 2000? Of these, vol. 1 is the source for information about the traditional disciplines of Islamic religion: Qur’anic studies, hadith, law, theology, and mysticism (vol. 2 is Poesie). There is a scholarly precis or introduction to each area, then encyclopedia entries on the individual authors; vol. 1 is organized by genre/subject first, then chronology, then geography or theological/legal school of thought. Sezgin’s work is in German, but there are very clear tables of contents and indexes in every volume, and standard editorial conventions are used throughout.

There are 17 volumes in all; vols. 1-9 available from Brill, and vols. 10-17 from the author.  Thankfully Joep Lameer is in the process of translating all this into English also, and volumes 1-3 have appeared from Brill (see here), and volume 4 is in progress.  There is an amusing yet brilliant guide to Sezgin’s work by Richard Heffron here.

Anyone doing research in Islamic culture and religion must learn to use the somewhat cumbersome but indispensable Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed. (Leiden: Brill, 1960-2004) and its valuable index volumes. For twentieth-century information, the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World is a must (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). And for literary figures in particular, the two-volume Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, edited by Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey (London: Routledge, 1998), is a very convenient source for ready reference, providing concise but informative entries on scholars and writers throughout the centuries. These entries include brief biographical accounts, principal works and their significance, original-language text editions, and some secondary reading. There are also topical articles on literary genres, technical terms, historical movements, and developments, produced by an array of respected contributors.

These works are available in the usual places.

Other useful reference sources are mentioned in the chapter endnotes of this volume and in our bibliography.4

Among these they mention in the latter Margaret Anderson, Arabic Materials in English Translation: A Bibliography of Works from the Pre-Islamic Period to 1977 (1980), about which Google says:

This bibliography, of over 1600 items, represents for the most part English language translations of original Arabic works. A few of the translations listed here, most notably of those of writings by Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Galen, are not originally Arabic, but are translations made of Arabic editions….The aim of the compilation is two-fold: first, to provide both students and the general public with an interest in the Arab world (but with little or no facility in the Arabic language), as full a listing of translated Arabic materials as possible; and also to provide for those doing research in such fields as history and history of science, political science, comparative religion, comparative literature, and law, and touching on the Arab world only occasionally, with a partial substitute for the original materials whose language they have had no previous need to master.

This must be useful also.  The authors modestly do not list their own book, but of course it too looks essential to me.


An English translation of Brockelmann’s “Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur”!

If you want to know what texts exist in Arabic, then the classic resource is Carl Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, published in seven volumes, in a terrible, disorganised, highly abbreviated format, starting in the 19th century.  This is essentially unreadable, even if you have good German. The first 2 volumes are the original edition; there are 3 volumes of supplements; and then 2 volumes of a revised edition which refers to both the original and the supplements.  It is a monster work of scholarship, but quite unusable.  Paula Skreslet wrote:

Specialists in Islamic literature must make the effort to become conversant with Carl Brockelmann’s classic of Orientalist scholarship, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur. It is partly a narrative history, but chiefly an encyclopedia of entries on individual Arab writers and their work. Vol. 1 is organized chronologically, then by type/genre of literature (or subject matter), then geographically; vol. 2 organizes first by chronology, then geography, then genre or subject. Indexes for authors, titles, and the European editors of texts arc found in the third supplemental volume (after the entries on the modern era up to 1939). Even those who read German easily find Brockelmann’s work challenging to use, thanks to his difficult systems of abbreviation and transliteration, the lack of cross-references, the relationship between the supplements and the original volumes, and the proliferation of addenda and corrigenda.[1]

I commented on some of its failings back in 2011.  I have since learned that this was not the fault of the author, but of an unscrupulous publisher who forced all this upon him.  But it was obvious that something better was needed, and in English.

What I had not known until last night was that Dutch translator Joep Lameer has done just that.  He’s translated the lot into English, reorganised it, de-abbreviated the text, and generally cleaned it up and brought it up to date.  This is no small task, as I discovered when I attempted to do this for the various literary lives of Mohammed. What a hero!

His translation is titled, “History of the Arabic Written Tradition”, and is available from Brill here, for about $50 a volume.  That’s cheap for most of their works, although still a lot for independent scholars; but if you’re working with Arabic at all, the book is an essential reference and you will just have to take the hit.

  1. [1]Paula Youngman Skreslet, Rebecca Skreslet, The Literature of Islam: A Guide to the Primary Sources in English Translation, (2006), p.xiii-xiv.  Preview.

From my diary

I had forgotten how much I despise Microsoft software.  A couple of hours ago I decided to make a fix to my QuickLatin code.  More fool me.  Three hours later, I am no further forward and have spent the entire time struggling with their wretched development environment.  It was all working before I started.  I had to deinstall Visual Studio and reinstall, then reinstall an add-on, then work out why it wasn’t showing, then disable and re-enable to make the window pop-up…. bah!

I had to break off and retreat to my sofa for some intensive googling from my phone.  This did produce some results; but nothing that I could do would persuade Visual Studio to connect to its own marketplace.  The meaningless error message carefully conceals whatever the problem might be.

Part way through I wondered if I ought to purchase a more recent version.  Well, that led me down a rabbit hole as well.  All they want to sell you is incredibly expensive monthly subscriptions / licenses.  I never did find out what they would want to sell me what I wanted.  No wonder pirate keys circulate on the web.

Just so much pain, just to get started with anything.

In corporate IT departments they have pages on their intranets, describing just what “incantation” will make the software work as they need it to.  These can be very lengthy and detailed indeed.  Sixty sections of instructions is nothing.  But no ordinary person can spend that amount of time.

I’m still busy collating the text of John the Deacon against the manuscripts.  This was just something different to do.


Analysing the manuscripts of the Life of St Nicholas by John the Deacon – part 2 – the 12th c. manuscripts

In my last post, I analysed the 9-11th century manuscripts of John the Deacon, and found that they fell neatly into three families.  These I have colour-coded as green, blue and purple.  I’ve only really got three data points, so this is all a bit provisional.  The other three turned out not to vary much.

This evening I have completed the task of applying the same 6 passages to the 12th century manuscripts.  The same three families appear; but we also  get a brown family, with mixed readings.

This is perhaps to be expected.  But this determination is relying on a single data point in each case, which is certainly too few to be conclusive.

I had to download another four manuscripts last night.  One of these proved to have enormous page images, so that the whole download was 3.2Gb in size!  This proved too much for Adobe Acrobat Pro 2020, which combined all the images into a PDF, but then refused to save the PDF as “too large” (?!)

I’ve also found a second manuscript in Beneventan book-hand, where again the “Nacta” looks awfully like “Notata” if you don’t know the unusual shape of Beneventan “a” and “t” (which is well explained in this link).

I’m also finding more examples of abbreviated versions of the text, or a text which really belongs to a different version of the Life of St Nicholas.  These, of course, I have to ignore.

I shall have to ponder what all this tells me!