From my diary

Very busy this week with work-related stuff; too much so, to do anything useful! 

The fragments of Philip of Side are coming along nicely. The translator is doing his usual excellent job and ferreting out a lot of useful related information buried in articles in languages none of us know.  The publication — which will be free and online — will be an excellent one.

One interesting issue arose concerning the text to translate of the fragments contained in the Religionsgesprach text — a 6th century fictional dialogue at the court of the Sassanids.  This was printed by Bratke, but a critical edition does exist, in a thesis form, by Pauline Bringel.  The two texts are rather different, even aside from the fact that Bringel identified two recensions of the text.  We’re going to use Bratke, tho, and footnote differences.  Bratke is accessible.  Bringel will not be publishing her thesis any time soon, I learn, although the Sources Chretiennes would publish it, because of pressure of teaching duties.  There would be little point in doing a translation from a text that none have access to.

This weekend is deadline time for contributors to the Eusebius project.  There is more that could be done to the Coptic materials — but there has to be a limit some time!  The translator is sending me hard-copy of proof-changes, which I hope will arrive tomorrow.  I’m afraid it looks as if I may have to learn the Coptic alphabet to do some work on it, which is a nuisance, but there we are.  However I shall do the minimum possible!  With luck I can put the Coptic fragments to bed this weekend.  I still need to resolve issues with fonts, tho.  I’m still awaiting the transcription of the Syriac fragments, but I am told this will be ready on time, but not before.  The Latin fragments I revised last night and are now — thankfully — done.  An index of fragments and publications that I commissioned is in Excel, and needs more work and to be turned into a Word document.

The translator of the Origen Homilies on Ezechiel has found some more materials that probably derive from Origen’s Scholia on Ezechiel; these will be added in.  I have admonished him to remember to take a summer holiday!

On a quite different subject, I had to rebuild the installer of QuickLatin, the tool that I sell ($29) to help people with Latin.  My local anti-virus wailed about “unsigned code”, and I have been trying to work out how to sign a .exe file.  Apparently no-one wants to make it too easy, although why anyone would want to make a security measure hard to implement I can’t imagine.  I tried to f ind out this afternoon and failed.  Oh well.  It can go unsigned a while longer. 

I’m still thinking about going to the UK patristics conference at Durham in September.  I may yet go.  But I’ll wait until July at least, because I don’t quite know what will happen to me in my current freelance job.  I may need to find a new contract in a month, although I suspect that I shall end up with time off this summer!  And I shall take some time off too. 

I’ve also had a lot of correspondance this week, much of it very interesting.  One chap who is interested in Coptic turns out to have a PDF of the British Library manuscript containing De Lagarde’s catena.  This is the catena which I am publishing the Coptic from.  He declined to give me a copy of it, because of fears about copyright — not entirely unreasonable, considering that today there was an announcement about more enforcement measures by the regulator, OFCOM.  But he did let me see a  page with the first Eusebius entry on it.  The Coptic text was extremely clear, and interestingly there was a difference from De Lagarde’s printed version.  De Lagarde runs the text together, and the names of the authors of each bit appear inline.  But in the ms. the “Eusebius” was actually on a separate line!  I’d show you, but apparently the British Library don’t want you to see it unless we pay them money. 

It did leave me wondering what the point of running a public collection of manuscripts is, when circulation of images is prohibited!  But I think I’ve asked that question before.


Origen project update

The translation of the Homilies on Ezechiel by Origen is almost done.  There’s merely revision to do. 

But a project can get very bogged down at that stage.  The very lack of structure can give a feeling of sinking in a morass!

I always hate it when I’m handed something like that at work.  It’s slow, dull, work, with little feeling of achievement.

The way I handle it at work is to work with my boss, and break it down into defined chunks, each no larger than 1 day of work.  Then at least I get a feeling of progress as I tick each one off.

I’ve proposed to the translator that we do something similar here.  It will also allow me to see progress, and to pay for it as I go. 


Thinking about typesetting

The two translations that I have commissioned are both very nearly complete.  In fact I hunger for the day when they will be entirely complete — which will probably be in a month or two.  It is remarkable how long it has all taken.

Then I need to create a book form of them both, so that I can sell copies to libraries.  This will ensure availability in that community, and perhaps recover some of the commissioning costs.

The unwary start with Microsoft Word, create a PDF and send it to a print-on-demand site like  Then they wonder why it doesn’t look right.

Part of the reason is typesetting.  By default Word does not kern text — that is, move letters like AVA together so that there isn’t a big gap between them.  It can be turned on, under font formatting.

Likewise book publishers do not rely on Times Roman, but use professional fonts like Bembo and Baskerville.

I am profoundly conscious that this is a specialised area, which I have no real desire to learn.  Surely it should be possible to hire in the skill at a reasonable price?

I’ve found a forum here of people offering their services; I suspect that many of them have limited professional skills.  Someone who did seem to know what he was doing did write to me last year, but never replied to my last email.  I must pester him again!


Savile’s edition of Chrysostom

The text of the complete works of Chrysostom published by J.-P. Migne was a reprint of the Benedictine edition by Montfaucon of a century earlier.  Rather surprisingly, it does not contain all the material included in the 8-volume edition produced a century before that by Sir Henry Savile.  

I learn from Quasten’s Patrology 3 and also from the Clavis Patrum Graecorum 2 that some of the sermons of Severian of Gabala are only contained in Savile’s edition.

A kind reader has sent me PDF’s of Savile.  It’s rather daunting!  The lack of a Latin title is a clue; inside there is solely Greek.  There is an index at the end of volume 8, but it too is all in Greek.  In short, it is a rather tough proposition to find your way around! 

Fortunately the CPG gives page numbers for the sermons in question.

I’ve been working on transferring data and software to my new PC since Saturday, and I’m getting there.  But it is a wearisome business.  Windows 7 hasn’t attacked me yet, but give it time.

I’ve had another chunk of the Greek of Eusebius’ Quaestiones back from proof-reading.  I’ve also had a chunk of the Coptic back in English, although not in any useful format — the translator seems to have terrible trouble doing simple things with a computer, which is very, very wearing.  On a more positive note the translator of the Arabic bits is on course to complete those.

The translation with text of Origen’s Homilies on Ezechiel is progressing very well, and there is very little more to do.  The translator has worked very hard on this, and it shows.  It’s likely to be ready before the Eusebius, at current progress.  If it does appear first, I might send it out first, contrary to my original intention.


Interesting article on the preparation of the Sources Chretiennes’ Jerome commentaries

A note in LT-ANTIQ drew my attention here.  A PDF at the foot of the page not merely lists the manuscripts of some of the commentaries of St. Jerome on scripture but discusses how the editions are being prepared for maximum clarity, what font is used, what forms of quotation marks, etc.


Origen problem

The translation of Origen’s Homilies on Ezechiel is going very well, and we are deep into fragments from catenas.  These tend to make sense only if you have the biblical (=septuagint) quotation before you.  The NETS text and translation is the modern standard, but of course is heavily copyrighted by Oxford University Press.  I’ve been meaning to approach them for permission to use this, little as I like the idea. 

But I have at this very instant had a horrible, horrible thought. I don’t think I can use NETS.  Indeed I cannot use anything copyright on the English side at all, or only for portions appearing only in book form.

The end objective is to make the translation freely available online.  I will never be able to do that if portions are copyright someone else!

Oh bother. I’ve literally thought of just now, so I haven’t a solution to hand.  What to do?  Any suggestions would be welcome. Maybe the answer is simply to translate the biblical passages ourselves in all cases.

Isn’t copyright a bother!!!


Devreesse on the extracts of Origen on Ezekiel in the catenas

I’ve continued to work away at the monster article on the catenas by R. Devreesse, Chaines éxégetiques grecques, Supplément to Dictionnaire de la Bible, vol. 1 (Paris: Letouzey, published 1928).   The print-out that I got using the default settings in Adobe was very hard to read, very grainy and faint.  Fortunately I found a way to set the printer to denser printing, and this improved this.  So this morning I made a pile of print-outs, stapled them together in four sections, took my pen and … went off to lunch.  They went very well while waiting for a steak to appear!

The material concerned with Origen on Ezechiel is quite brief and begins on col. 1154.  Here it is in English, omitting chunks of Greek quoted where it would be a pain to transcribe them.  It is rather full of unfamiliar names.  Who, for instance, is Faulhaber? (<cough> A quick google search reveals that I have asked this question before, and that his book is online!).  Moving quickly on:

V.  EZEKIEL. — Faulhaber has placed the work by Pradus-Villalpandus, In Ezechielem explanationes et apparatus urbis ac templi Hierosolymitani commentario et imaginibus illustratus, 3 vols, Rome, 1596-1604, in its true context.  These volumes may have some importance for biblical topography, but they have nothing to do with the literature on the catenas.  There are again many manuscripts of Roman catenas derived from the ms. Chisianus which we must examine.

This is a reference to various catena manuscripts in Rome, in the Vatican etc, which he has already referred to for other Old Testament catenas.

The catalogue of Karo and Lietzmann adds to these on the one hand ms. Coislin 17 (13th century), Ambrosianus E. 46 sup. (10th c.)  and on the other the two Laurentianus V, 9 (11th c.) and XI, 4 (11th c.).

The catenist, probably John Drungarius, prefixed his collection with a preface in which he declared that he had searched in vain for commentaries of the fathers on Ezekiel; he could only discover passages of the prophet referred to or explained by them, randomly, in one or another of their works.  Lacking works by the holy Fathers, he searched elsewhere for materials for his collection; the “heretics” Theodoret, Polychronius and Origen furnished him with scholia.    But he also came across an earlier catena which it seems contained anonymous extracts.  These he included preceded by the lemma  Ἄλλος.  Faulhaber, p. 141-2.  The sources for John’s catena — which we will call this, for convenience — are thus the following:  some anonymous scholia, based on a primitive catena and prefixed with the lemma Allos, some interpretations detached from context on odd passages of the prophet, and some fragments taken from authors of limited orthodoxy.  All this material has been treated with some freedom.  What is the Allos material?  Faulhaber has remarked that these extracts look very strongly like extracts from Polychronius.  These fragments must have come from some primitive catena, itself derived from a commentary by Polychronius.

I’m sure all of us are wondering who Polychronius is.  I certainly don’t remember the name!  A quick Google search reveals that he was bishop of Apamea in the early 5th century and the brother of Theodore of Mopsuestia.  No doubt his “heresy” consisted of following the Antiochene approach to the various controversies of the period, nearly all political in inspiration.  Quite a bit of his exegetical work has survived, including nearly all his work on Ezechiel.

But back to Devreesse:

Let us note, in passing, that in Ambrosianus E. 46 sup (10th c.), we find the commentary of Theodoret surrounded by scholia.

AUTHORS CITED.  — Origen. — We are told in the Church History of Eusebius (V, 32:1-2) that Origen began at Caesarea and completed at Athens a commentary (tomoi) on Ezechiel.  The work comprised 25 books.  Of this commentary there remains only a section from the 20th book, preserved in the Philocalia (Patrologia Graeca vol. 13, cols. 663-666; ed. Robinson, p. 60).

I ought to add here that the Philocalia is a compilation of extracts from Origen, which was made in the 4th century by the great Cappadocian Fathers Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa.  It survives, and I long ago scanned the English translation and placed it online here.

The commentary was not the only exegesis that Origen undertook on Ezekiel.  A translation by St. Jerome has handed us fourteen sermons (PG vol. 14, cols. 665-768; also edited by Baehrens, Griechische Christlicher Schriftsteller, 1925, p. 318-454).  There is no question, both in Eusebius and Jerome, that Origen also left scholia or excerpta on Ezekiel.  The fragments given in the catenas (233 in the ms. Ottobonianus 452, according to Faulhaber, p. 153) are taken from the homilies.  An edition of them by De la Rue can be found in the PG 13, cols. 695-787.  The Ottobonianus 452 was exploited by Cardinal Mai to furnish four further extracts (Novum Patr. Bibl. vol. 7, 2, praef., p. v [1], reprinted as PG 17, col. 288).  The manuscripts Vatican 1153 and Ottoboni 452 permitted Cardinal Pitra to pursue this collecting further, and to discover some next texts (Analecta sacra vol. 3, p. 541-550; the first extract had already been edited by De la Rue, the last and next-to-last by Mai).  The edition of Baehrens gives the fragments taken from the Ottoboni 452, Vatican 1153, and Laurentian V, 9 manuscripts, but we know that the homilies, which were the object of this publication, were attached to specific passages of the prophecy and did not go further than Ezechiel 44:2.  The remainder of the scholia are perhaps all that survives of lost homilies and commentaries.  The study of these fragments must therefore begin by establishing from the best manuscript witnesses a complete list, and then determining their relationship to the texts preserved in the direct tradition.

Devreesse then goes on to talk about the fragments of Hippolytus, but we need not follow him.

What does all this tell us?  Much and little.  It is reasonably certain that we have most of the catena fragments on Ezechiel by Origen.  It is equally certain that we don’t know that much about them, and that some of them are bogus.

I think it is time to clarify who the modern editors of Origen have been.  Schaff as always gives us something, but here is a little more:

Charles de La Rue (d. 1739) was the Benedictine editor of the complete works of Origen, reprinted by Migne in PG 11-17 after 1850.  He was one of the Maurist fathers, whose fabulous erudition was only brought to an end by the French Revolution, when their headquarters at St. Germain-des-Près were stormed by the mob.  Most of their books went to the National Library; a certain number were acquired by a Russian agent, Petrus Dubrovsky, and shipped out and sold to the Tsar, and are in St. Petersburg.  Dubrovsky himself was denounced to the Committee of Public Safety and had to flee, leaving some of his manuscripts to be scattered over Paris.

C. H. E. Lommatzsch also seems to have reprinted De la Rue, in 25 small volumes: Opera omnia quae graece et latine tantum exstant et ejus nomine circumferuntur … Ediderunt Carolus et Carol. Vincen. De La Rue … denuo recensuit … Carol. Henric. Eduard. Lommatzsch, Berlin: Haud and Spener (1831-1848).

The most  modern text on Origen on Ezekiel is that in the Berlin Griechische Christlicher Schriftsteller  series by Baehrens, which was reprinted by Borrett in the Sources Chretiennes edition.   Fortunately Baehrens is out of copyright, so there is no barrier to using his text.

I wonder what Baehrens thought of De la Rue’s work?


Origen update

Translations of some more catena fragments from the work of Origen on Ezekiel have arrived.  These are useful and help get a complete picture.

The second is a translation of Delarue’s introduction where he discusses what he does.  It’s very interesting!  These old introductions are often full of useful info.  Delarue frankly confesses that in many cases he has no certain idea of whether the material is by Origen or not!  He writes:

The trustworthiness of these catenae, however, is very questionable.  For in them the names of the writers from whose fragments they have been patched together are so very often mixed up and confused that those which one catena ascribes to Origen are attributed in another catena to Didymus or Eusebius or Theodoret or some other interpreter.  Add to this the fact that even when the unanimous consent of the catenae ascribes a certain fragment to Origen, I have often discovered it belongs to Eusebius or Theodoret or to some other writer, on the basis of the published commentaries of these Fathers.

He goes on to discuss his approach.  We will definitely have to include this preface somehow in the book.

But … the more work I do with catenae, the more evident it becomes to me that we need new modern editions, not of extracts from catenae, but of catenae themselves.  They are compositions, and should be edited as such, a stemma established, and so forth.


Origen update

A translation of more of the fragmentary material has come through this evening.  There is now very little more to translate.  Once it is all done, the editorial task of assembling the book will begin.  I feel very unqualified for this, and I intend to look around to see if I can hire some help!


Doing the numbers

A comment asked how much the various elements of the projects I am doing actually cost, aside from the hours and hours of time.  I thought a post on this might be of interest.

My trip to Cambridge to look at Anastasius of Sinai was 120 miles and cost me around $45 in petrol, plus about $7 of copying.

Translating has no fixed cost; it is entirely about supply and demand.  There are other considerations also, which I will come to.

Some translating can be got for nothing.  Much of this is worth what it costs, but an academic will tend to do a good job, even if unpaid.

As a rule I offer 10c per word of the original language, for smaller amounts, and I find that I can usually get someone decent at this price.  For larger amounts I tend to have Migne as a control; I offer $20 per column of Migne (about 400 words).  These numbers apply to Latin, Greek and Christian Arabic.

I have found it quite impossible to get people to translate Syriac at less than 20c per word.  While a lot of people claim to know it, in practice those able and willing are not available for less.

This leads me into the other important aspect — reliability.  There are few things as infuriating as someone who agrees with you to do the work and just doesn’t, or does it to an inferior standard if at all.  I always follow my gut; people who are going to be a pain tend to be a pain pretty early on.  It doesn’t get better — if it isn’t any good initially, it will be worse later. 

You do have to check what you’re being offered, of course.  I always make the first chunk of stuff a sample; if it’s OK, I pay them; if it isn’t, I don’t and cancel the job.  This is essential, unless you want people who wish they could translate offering you gibberish.   The price bears no relationship to the quality of work done, by the way.

Checking means hiring someone to do some work which is really time-related.  I tend to pay $20 an hour for odd bits of work, setting a maximum if I don’t know how long it will be.  Again, this is probably too high, and I try to constrain the price in other ways.

Transcribing text is something I have just started to do.  The web suggests a price of $10 per 1,000 words.  This is probably too much also, but we’ll see how it goes.

Typesetting the book; I haven’t actually done any of this, but the quotes I have are between $300-$700.

Copying in libraries tends to be 15c a sheet.

Are there other costs?  Probably, but these come to me off the top of my head. 

Searching for people to do work: these days I post an ad in BYZANS-L for Greek stuff,  HUGOYE for Syriac.  For Christian Arabic I now have a little pool of people I know are reliable.

So … it can be an expensive business.  But translating the Eusebius and the Origen is turning out to be around $3,300 each.  Now that is not a small sum.  But … it isn’t the end of the world, is it?