Some notes on the Von der Goltz codex of Acts, Paul’s letters, and the catholic letters

Codex 184.B.64 of the monastery of the Laura on Mt. Athos was one of the manuscripts examined by von Soden and von der Goltz in a trip to the mountain in the winter of 1898.  The presence of subscriptios to the letters of Paul, and scholia, caught the attention of the latter, who published an article about it in TU 17.4 in 1899.  He was able to collate the ms. and to copy the old scholia.

The manuscript itself is 10th century, and bound between two boards, with brown leather covers.  It contains 102 parchment leaves, each 23 x 17.5 cms in size.  The written area is 17 x 11 cm, and has 35 lines.  The ms. contains Acts, Paul’s letters, and the catholic letters.  Each quire is of 8 leaves.  The first sheet is a later replacement, and two quires are missing from the beginning, which perhaps contained some form of introductory matter.  Originally a copy of Revelation followed.  The text is written in an early minuscule, and the scholia in a careful semi-uncial.  The chapters are numbered.

The manuscript was thoroughly revised by a later hand which also erased to some extent the majority of the ancient scholia and marginalia, and added the Euthalian chapter numbers.  But there are also traces of large red letters under the “original” text, suggesting that it too is a palimpsest.

Von der Goltz does publish the scholia, without translation.



The NIV translators get their just reward

Readers will know that I don’t believe any ancient text should be given in an English version revised in accordance with a political programme.  It’s dishonest.  If I want to read Vergil, I want to read Vergil, not Vergil-as-some-old-hippy-says-he-should-have-written.

The editing of the NIV for “gender-inclusivity” — to conform to the political demands of those who have power today, in more honest language — would be disgusting and dishonest whichever text was involved.  But to do it to what purports to be the Word of God is an appalling blasphemy.

It was also stupid.  After all, if you believe it’s the Word of God, you can’t edit it.  Those who make demands for it to be changed to reflect a modern ideology cannot, do not, believe it is the Word of God.  It’s just a way for those in power to show their power (and their contempt) for a religion in which they do not believe.  To conform is to sacrifice to Caesar, to say “Caesar is God”, Caesar is the most powerful.  To conform to is earn Caesar’s amused contempt.

God is not mocked, however, and those responsible today got to enjoy some consequences:

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for a more animal-friendly update to the Bible.

The group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls “speciesist” language and refer to animals as “he” or “she” instead of “it.”

PETA is hoping the move toward greater gender inclusiveness will continue toward animals as well.

“When the Bible moves toward inclusively in one area … it wasn’t much of a stretch to suggest they move toward inclusively in this area,” Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s vice president for policy, told CNN.

Friedrich, a practicing Roman Catholic, said, “Language matters. Calling an animal ‘it’ denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God.”

“God’s covenant is with humans and animals. God cares about animals,” Friedrich said. “I would think that’s a rather unanimous opinion among biblical scholars today, where that might not have been the case 200 years ago.”

Yup.  Let’s demand that other people’s bibles conform to policies we made up 5 years ago.   Let’s snigger as they scurry to rationalise conformity.

I wonder when the NIV translators will grasp that each surrender of principle leads to the next, and that, in kowtowing to Moloch, they are merely making themselves ridiculous?


James of Edessa on the Old Testament apocrypha

Ca. 700, the Syriac writer James of Edessa had this to say in response to a question:

Let’s look at the second question: Why are these books not counted among the canonical books of the Church? I speak of the great Wisdom and of Jesus son of Sirach, and of many others which are rejected, like Tobit and those of the  women Esther and Judith, and the three (books) on the Maccabees.

I will answer again, that the truth is exactly known to the prophetic, apostolic and learned Spirit. I also would like to tell you the opinion of my feeble intelligence: it is that they are not entirely composed of words revealed by the (Holy) Spirit or of prophecies from God, but that they contain either words of human wisdom written by pious men, or stories about holy and pious men themselves, which is why  they were separated from the number of the canonical books of the Church, and were placed for special reading outside of the (books) for regular use in the correction and correcting of morals, actions and deeds, for those who are of a very teachable spirit, and want to hear some useful and loving advice for word and deed and for the knowledge of good conduct.

I hope to place the whole of this letter online soon.


SBL Greek New Testament

A little behind the times, I admit, but I learn today that the Society of Biblical Literature is producing a new critical edition of the Greek New Testament.  Better news yet — it is not based on Nestlé-Aland and is being made freely available online in unicode form with the creation of derivative works encouraged and non-commercial use pretty much free.  A printed version is available also.  Michael W. Holmes has done the legwork, and details are available here at  Rick Brannan helped out here.  A review of the Galatians text by Stephen C. Carlson is here.

This can only be a very good thing.  We urgently need the critical text of the NT online, in unicode, usable by anyone who wants to.  Without such a text, the creation of tools to work on the text would be sabotaged by absurd claims of copyright on the text of the the Word of God.  The MorphGNT project was derailed by such copyright claims, or so I understand.  Now we are free to move forward.

The SBL text is, of course, a first stab at a text and no doubt many defects, major and minor, will be found.  But anything that makes a modern critical text available like this is to be welcomed.  It is also a useful reminder that the questions of variants are not finally finished, and should enable a new generation of scholars to contribute.  Let the fun commence!

The apparatus is the weakest part, reflecting four editions rather than the raw manuscript data.  But a few scholars should be able to put together an apparatus from the manuscripts ab initio without undue effort, and this may well be a valuable exercise in updating, all by itself.  After all, after 27 editions, you don’t quite know how much is rechecked and how much just carried forward on faith.  Let us hope that volunteers come forward to do this.  It’s an opportunity to start again, using  the best of what has been done in the past but with a new and fresh approach.

Michael Holmes announced the publication on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog here in October, and answers some questions here.  He has recognised that the NIV English translation is perhaps the standard modern translation, and the Greek text behind it is therefore of wide interest.  He has therefore made this text one of the inputs to his edition, and included it in the apparatus.  This shrewd decision should promote acceptance of the edition more than any other single factor.

Well done!


The merriment of devils and the anger of the saints – the NIV saga continues

Would you like to rewrite the Moslem Koran?  Perhaps add a couple of modifying words to reflect our own views.  Maybe strengthen the bits about “protecting” non-Moslems, and, when it talks about holy war against unbelievers, add an adjective or two to make sure this is “spiritual” war?

Or maybe we could work over the Jewish bible!  Hey, if we hate the Israelis, we could “clarify” for them that the bits giving Israel the land are provisional, or “spiritual”, or something.  Or if we’re Zionistically inclined, we could make sure that all Jews know what their duty in occupying the land of Israel is. 

Would you instead prefer Barack Obama to make some “clarifications” to the bible, to reflect his political programme?  Or Tony Blair?  Or Margaret Thatcher?

Of course this is a policy that you wouldn’t do to any holy book in which you believed yourself!  If you believed that the Koran was from Allah, you’d hesitate pretty hard before mucking with it, whatever spin you put on your changes.  After all, Allah might throw you into hell.  He might get his people to kill you.  You believe in all this stuff, so it wouldn’t be good.

No, it’s something you’d do to someone else’s holy book.  You’d do it to them.  Make their book reflect your views.  And wouldn’t it be fun to do!  It would certainly show who’s boss — you — and that their god was powerless.  If you could do it to the Koran, and make the Moslems take your changed version and bow down to it, you could laugh every time you heard a minaret.  They’d be bowing down to you.

Of course this is satire.  No sensible person would want to abuse another in this manner.  You’d have to be quite a bigot to do this.

Unfortunately we live in an age beyond satire.  Juvenal remarked, “What can you do, when the man himself is more vile than anything you can think of to say about him?”  And this programme is being put into effect today. 

There is a new version out of the New International Version English translation of the bible.  Apparently, the old version has been withdrawn; if you want the NIV, you must take the new one.  The web sites have been changed.  The decision has been made.

So why is this being changed?  What are the changes?  Well, you will look on the NIV website in vain.  You will find, under the “FAQ” only words about the unspecified changes to the English language — although I must have missed these, because I don’t know of such changes in formal English.

Most translations of the bible achieve little.  But when the NIV appeared it succeeded.  It took hold in the Christian community.  It was trusted.

Ten years ago an attempt was made to corrupt it.  The text was rewritten to reflect the teachings of the contemporary political belief-system often called Political Correctness.  (Its advocates have never named their philosophy, since once you can name something you can oppose it.)   As we all know, among the principles of that ideology is a demand to remove from literature references to ‘man’ (equivalent to Latin homo, man as species) and replace them with ‘man and woman’ (Latin vir and femina).  As part of this dogma, they specify that God — these people are atheists — may not be referred to as male.  This creed has never been put to a vote and is instead advanced by the methods of backstairs politics.  This teaching is the faith of the establishment in our day, and most weeks I see some newspaper report of some poor soul who has fallen foul of its ever-shifting dogmas and lost their job.  Its proponents are not Christians, although some Christians are politically correct.

Anyway the corrupt version was issued; and US Christians resisted, for which we may be truly thankful.   Wayne Grudem listed a series of mistranslations, all designed to rewrite the bible into what — in the opinion of the PC — it should have said.  Sales of the NIV collapsed.  In a desperate attempt to remedy the situation, the old NIV was brought back and the new one renamed the TNIV.   The TNIV was a commercial failure, and failed to achieve the end of those who composed it.  Christians rejected it.  A few ministers conspicuously endorsed it, thereby indicating something about them to the rest of us. 

Corrupting the bible is a sin.  The ending of Revelation indicates as much.   The very idea of translating the bible according to the principles of some politically powerful contemporary ideology ought to horrify any Christian.  Do we follow Christ, or Caesar? 

It is easy enough to see the problem if we happen to disagree with that ideology!  Oh yes.  That isn’t a problem.  But we can kid ourselves, if we happen to agree with some potent contemporary ideology, and suppose that God must endorse it.  The classic example is “church and king” Toryism; but nevertheless, it is wrong and blasphemous to call Caesar our god and to bow before him. 

What worried me is that there was no repentance from those responsible, no acknowledgement of what an awful thing had been attempted.  As far as I know no-one was sacked.  The attitude I see is that the TNIV “failed to be accepted”, not “was wrong”.  Those who perpetrated this evil remained at their desks, to the best of my knowledge.  Today we see the fruit of their labours, in a new version.

So what is happening?  Is this an honest revision?  Or is it merely a case that the heretics, having failed to get their dogma written into the bible in one gulp, have decided to make the church eat this elephant a little at a time?  We all know how people get unpopular policies accepted; they do it one small step at a time.  Those of us enduring metrication in the UK can see this happening under our noses, undiscussed, low-visibility.  Is this the same, I ask?

A certain amount of textual corrections based on revisions to the Greek text are also included, which might otherwise be unobjectionable.   But I wonder whether it is desirable to keep revising a translation?  Each time we revise the translation, do we not give the impression that the Word of God is a moveable feast?  Textual critics fiddle endlessly, but their conclusions are never settled and may be reversed when times change.  Atheists jeer that the bible is not the Word of God because it keeps changing.  By contrast the NIV people give the impression to me of thinking in terms of an endless series of changes.

So I shan’t be purchasing this “new bible”.  The old one is fine, thanks.  I don’t need someone else’s idea of what the bible should say.  And … I hope the Lord punishes these people very severely indeed, if this is what is happening.  This is not a game.  This is the Word of Life, the only means of Salvation in a dying world.  And some creep wants to make it reflect the opinions of the Selfish Generation?

A set of lay comparisons is here.  It doesn’t look good to me, but who knows?


Arabic gospel manuscripts

There is a two volume thesis by Hikmat Kashouh, The Arabic version of the gospel: the manuscripts and their families, accessible online at EthOS here (you have to create an account and do a rather silly ‘order’ but the PDF download is free, and the PDF is searchable).  This thesis was done in 2008 at the University of Birmingham; nice to see the Mingana collection getting some contemporary scholarly use!

The work looks like the starting point for some serious study of the Arabic translation of the gospels.  Interestingly it was sponsored by Christian groups the Langham Partnership International and St. John’s Church in Harbourne.

The thesis has developed into a book, being published by De Gruyter for a modest $377.  Details are here:

This book is concerned with the Arabic versions of the Gospels. It is an attempt to examine a substantial number of Arabic manuscripts which contain the continuous text of the canonical Gospels copied between the eighth and the nineteenth centuries and found in twenty-one different library collections in Europe and the Orient.

Following the introduction, Chapter Two presents the state of research from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present time. Chapter Three introduces and reflects on the two hundred plus manuscripts examined in this work. Chapters Four to Eight concentrate on grouping these manuscripts into twenty-four families and examining their Vorlagen (Greek, Syriac, Coptic and Latin). In order to examine the relationship between the families, phylogenetic software is used. Consequently, the manuscripts are grouped into seven different mega clusters or tribes. Finally the date of the first translation of the Gospels into Arabic is addressed and (a) provisional date(s) suggested based on the textual and linguistic analyses of the manuscripts.

The conclusion in Chapter Ten gives the overall contribution made by this thesis and also future avenues for the study of the Arabic versions of the Gospels.


Timothy I and the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the 9th century AD

The letters in Syriac of the East Syriac patriarch Timothy I are of considerable interest, and it is a great pity that no translation of them exists.  They are, admittedly, of great length.

But few people realise that the caves around the Dead Sea have been producing manuscripts for rather longer than the last 50 years.  A discovery of apocryphal psalms by Bedouin in the 9th century is described in Timothy I, Letter 47.   A translation was made by Sebastian Brock but published only in India in Moran Etho 9, a brief outline of Syriac literature,.  My own copy was obtained with some difficulty from India, and it arrived in a little packet with the end open and tied up with cloth tape, so that customs could open and inspect it! It is, in short nearly inaccessible to everyone.  So I thought I would give it here.

Brock introduces the letter as follows:

Letter 47; this letter, written towards the end of Timothy’s life (he died in 828) is of particular interest; it deals with two main topics, the Syriac translation of Origen’s Hexapla (known today as the Syrohexapla), made by the Syrian Orthodox scholar Paul of Telia c. 615; and the discovery, ten years earlier, of ancient Hebrew manuscripts in the region of Jericho a discovery anticipating that of the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ at Qumran by over a thousand years! Timothy’s Letter is the earliest evidence of knowledge of the Syrohexapla among scholars of the Church of the East, and it also provides many important insights into how manuscripts were copied and circulated. The information about the finds of Hebrew manuscripts explains (among other things) the appearance in Syriac of the so-called ‘Apocryphal Psalms’, 152-5 – some of which have now turned up in their Hebrew original in the Psalms Scroll from Qumran Cave 11. Right at the end of the letter Timothy turns to the matter of ecclesiastical appointments, giving a glimpse of the wide extent covered by the Church of the East in the early ninth century.

And then the translation:

To the revered bishop Mar Sergius, metropolitan of Elam, the sinner Timothy does obeisance to your reverence and asks for your prayer.

We have read the letters which your reverence sent to us on the subject of the Hexapla, and we have learnt from all that you wrote therein. We give thanks to God for your good health and the fair course of your episcopal governance, and we, who are sinners, ask God’s mercy that your affairs may have a successful and glorious outcome.

On the subject of the book of the Hexapla about which your reverence wrote, we have already written and informed you last year that a copy of the Hexapla, written on sheets using the Nisibene format, was sent to us through the diligence of our brother Gabriel, synkellos of the resplendent caliph (lit. king). We hired six scribes and two people to dictate, who dictated to the scribes from the text of the exemplar. We wrote out the entire Old Testament, with Chronicles, Ezra, Susanna, Esther and Judith, producing three manuscripts, one for us and two for the resplendent Gabriel; of those two, one was for Gabriel himself, and the other for Beth Lapat, for this is what Gabriel had instructed in writing. The manuscripts have now been written out with much diligence and care, at the expense of great trouble and much labour, over six months more or less; for no text is so difficult to copy out or to read as this, seeing that there are so many things in the margin, I mean readings of Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus and others, taking up almost as much space as the text of the Septuagint in the body of the manuscript. There are also a large number of different signs above them – how many, it is not possible for anyone to say. But we had bad and greedy scribes, eight men for just under six months. The copying was done as far as possible using correction, seeing that it had been made from dictation; the copies were gone over a second time and read out. As a result of the excessive labour and work of correction my eyes were harmed and I nearly lost my sight – you can get an idea of the weakness of our vision from these shapeless letters that we are writing now.

Even the exemplar from which we were copying, however, contained errors, and most of the Greek names were written in reverse: the person who wrote them must have had a knowledge of Greek as weak as our own, apart only from the fact that he was not aware of the reversal of the characters he was writing, whereas we were at least aware of that! For he had not noticed the replacement and interchange of the characters, sometimes writing the letter chi in place of kappa, and zeta in place of chi, as well as putting all sorts of other things. We, however, recognized the situation.

At the end of every biblical book the following was written: “This was written, collated and compared with the exemplar of Eusebius, Pamphilus and Origen”.

This, then, is the way the Hexapla had been copied. It has endless differences from the text which we employ [sc. the Peshitta]. I am of the opinion that the person who translated this exemplar in our possession was working from the versions of Theodotion, Aquila and Symmachus, since for the most part there is a greater resemblance to them than to the Septuagint. I had imagined that a copy of the Hexapla had already been sent to your reverence, so when you wrote we immediately wrote off to the noble Gabriel, telling him to fulfil his promise to you; but if he does not want to send it to you, let him write to us, for we will copy it out again and send it to you. So much for that topic.

We have learnt from certain Jews who are worthy of credence, who have recently been converted to Christianity, that ten years ago some books were discovered in the vicinity of Jericho, in a cave-dwelling in the mountain. They say that the dog of an Arab who was hunting game went into a cleft after an animal and did not come out; his owner then went in after him and found a chamber inside the mountain containing many books. The huntsman went to Jerusalem and reported this to some Jews. A lot of people set off and arrived there; they found books of the Old Testament, and, apart from that, other books in Hebrew script. Because the person who told me this knows the script and is skilled in reading it, I asked him about certain verses adduced in our New Testament as being from the Old Testament, but of which there is no mention at all in the Old Testament, neither among us Christians, nor among the Jews. He told me that they were to be found in the books that had been discovered there.

When I heard this from that catechumen, I asked other people as well, besides him, and I discovered the same story without any difference. I wrote about the matter to the resplendent Gabriel, and also to Shubhalmaran, metropolitan of Damascus, in order that they might make investigation into these books and see if there is to be found in the prophets that ‘seal’, ”He will be called Nazarene” [Matt. 2:23], or “That which eye has not seen and ear has not heard” [1 Cor. 2:9], or “Cursed is everyone who is hung on the wood” [Gal. 3:13], or “He turned back the boundary to Israel, in accordance with the word of the Lord which he spoke through Jonah the prophet from Gad Hfar”, and other passages like them which were adduced by the New Testament and the Old Testament but which are not to be found at all in the Bible we possess. I further asked him, if they found these phrases in those books, by all means to translate them. For it is written in the Psalm beginning “Have mercy, O God, according to your grace” [Ps.51], “Sprinkle upon me with the hyssop of the blood of your cross and cleanse me”. This phrase is not in the Septuagint, nor in the other versions, nor in the Hebrew. Now that Hebrew man told me, “We found a David [i.e. a Psalter] among those books, containing more than two hundred psalms”. I wrote concerning all this to them.

I suppose that these books may have been deposited either by Jeremiah the prophet, or by Baruch, or by someone else from those who heard the word and trembled at it; for when the prophets learnt through divine revelations of the captivity, plunder and burning that was going to come upon the people as a result of their sins, being men who were firmly assured that not one of God’s words would fall to the earth, they hid the books in the mountains and caves to prevent their being burnt by fire or taken as plunder by captors. Then those who had hidden them died after a period of seventy or fewer years, and when the people returned from Babylon there was no one surviving of those who had deposited the books. This was why Ezra and others had to make investigations, thus discovering what books the Hebrews possessed. The Bible among the Hebrews consists of three volumes, one [sc. the Pentateuch] being the volume which the Seventy Interpreters subsequently translated for king Ptolemy -who is worthy of a wreath of accolades; another was the volume from which others translated at a later time, while the third is preserved amongst them.

If any of these phrases are to be found in the aforementioned books it will be evident that they are more reliable than the texts in currency among the Hebrews and among us. Although I wrote, I have received no answer from them on this matter. I have not got anyone sufficiently capable with me whom I can send. The matter has been like a burning fire in my heart and it has set my bones alight.

Pray for me: my frame is very weak, my hands are not very good at writing, and my eyes are feeble. Such things are indications and messengers of death. Pray for me that I may not be condemned at our Lord’s judgement.

The Holy Spirit recently anointed a metropolitan for Turkestan, and we are making preparations to anoint another for Beth Tuptaye [Tibet]. We have sent another to Shiarzur and another for Radan, since Nestorius the metropolitan of Radan has died. We are also making preparations for another at Ray [Tehran region], since Theodorus has died; another for Gurgan, another for Balad-Cyriacus of Beth `Abe; another for Dasen since Jacob has sunk into the pit from which there is no resurrection; another for Beth Nuhadra, which has no bishop. So pray with us to the Lord of the harvest that he may send out labourers for his harvest.

Shubhalisho’ of Beth Daylamaye has plaited a crown of martyrdom. We have sent in his place ten monks from Beth ‘Abe. Pray for me, reverend father in God my Lord.

Send me the Apologia for Origen by Eusebius of Caesarea, so that I may read it and then send it back. Make a search for the Discourses on the Soul by the great patriarch Mar Aba: there are three of them, but only one is available here. And copy out and send the Homilies of Mar Narsai, since we have not got them; for Mar Ephrem, of holy memory, wrote to us to say that there is a great deal there with you which is not available here. Write to ‘the Tyrant of Fars’ and inform him that every metropolitan who is appointed by a bishop with his co-ordainers is subject to the canon of the Church of God, the Synod of the 318 Fathers [sc. the Council of Nicaea], and the canons of Mar Aba.


A 12th century trilingual Arabic, Greek and Latin psalter

A correspondent tells me about this post at Arab Orthodoxy:

On the website of the British Library they’ve posted images of a Psalter dated to 1153 written in parallel Greek, Latin, and Arabic. The Arabic translation of the Psalms is that of Abdallah ibn al-Fadl al-Antaki, the famous 11th century deacon and translator from Antioch. You can turn to all the pages and zoom in. Take a look, it’s beautiful.


In St. Petersburg they’ve recently published a two-volume facsimile and study of a 17th century illuminated Arabic Psalter based on Abdallah ibn al-Fadl’s translation. I’ll get around to writing a review of that at some point…..

I wonder where on earth that was written.  My guess, considering that it dates to the crusader period, is in Syria.  Just before the crusades the Byzantines had conquered the area, bringing Greek; then the crusaders come in, with Latin; and the local Christians speaking Arabic.  Where else would you have this kind of tri-lingualism?

What a wonderful thing to have online!


From my diary

Cambridge University Library is going to put Codex Bezae online, or so I read in a Daily Telegraph story.   Better still, they’re preparing to put all their books online, and make them freely available.  That’s what we want to hear.

Anne Jarvis, the university Librarian, said that the exciting new plans would open up priceless collections to students worldwide.

She said: “Our library contains evidence of some of the greatest ideas and discoveries over two millennia.

“We want to make it accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world with an internet connection and a thirst for knowledge.

Good for them!  Codex Bezae will be in the first tranche, as — at little pointlessly — will be a Gutenberg bible. 

I hope they attract lots of funding.  This will be the first UK library to take mass free access seriously, and if they do it, will probably guarantee the existence of the library into the digital age.

Dan Wallace and the chaps at CSNTM who photograph manuscripts of the bible were in Cambridge trying to negotiate access.  I suspect their efforts — seemingly fruitless at the time — probably helped change minds and create expectations at CUL.

I’m increasingly impressed with what Anne Jarvis is doing.  I’ve just discovered that even people like me — readers not part of the university — can use the library Wifi network if we get a ‘Lapwing ticket’, valid for a limited period.  It doesn’t look as if they charge, either, which is as it should be.  Lack of access to electronic resources is a real pain for the occasional visitor, and they have addressed it.

I have also received my copy of Croke and Harries, Religious conflict in fourth century Rome, and started to read it.  Lots of excellent texts in translation. 

But it’s much too sunny today to be sat in doors, so I went off to Norwich today instead.


Polychronius, Porphyry and Daniel

One of the 5th century commentators on scripture was Polychronius, brother of Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 430 AD).  He belonged to the Antioch school of biblical interpretation, who took a fairly literal approach to scripture.  His works are lost.   But the interpreters of that school were used extensively by the compilers of catena-commentaries from the 6th century onwards, and Polychronius was among them.  The result is that the Patrologia Graeca contains hundreds of pages of fragments culled from these catenas.

It’s fairly obvious why someone compiling a commentary on scripture from the Fathers would tend to prefer Antioch to Alexandria, literal to allegorical.  An allegorical interpretation might be interesting, but as a comment on a passage is much less useful than someone who is dealing directly with what the passage says.

Polychronius is interesting because he was one of the few Fathers to agree with Porphyry — “the impious Porphyry” as he is universally referred to — on the subject of the date of portions of Daniel.  These he considered were additions made in the Hellenistic period, in the times of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  The latter monarch led the attack on Judaism and is the subject of the books of Maccabees.  The portions are Bel and the Dragon, Susannah, and the Song of the Three Children.  In Daubney’s Three additions to Daniel I read:

Polychronius, Theodore of Mopsuestia’s brother, refused to comment on this piece because it was not part of the original Daniel, nor in the Syriac, ο  κεταιν  τος  βραϊκος    ντος  Συριακος βιβλίοις.

I’ve had a proposal to translate the fragments on Daniel, amounting to some 50 columns of Migne.  This is quite a bit, and would cost quite a bit too!  I’ve queried whether perhaps we might cherry-pick some of the best bits, solely from a cost-saving point of view.  But it’s not an impossible sum.

The fragments of Daniel were published by Mai in Volume 1 of Scriptorum Veterum Collectio Nova, in part 2, p.105.  They start on p.556 of the Google Books PDF.