Eusebius “Quaestiones” Syriac fragments all now translated

Very pleased indeed to get the last fragment of Eusebius’ Tough questions on the gospels in English.  It has been incredibly hard to find people who (a) know enough Syriac to translate this and (b) will actually do it.  This translator is my fourth attempt!  I had to pay a premium price, and it does hurt, but it was worth it.  He’s now going to look over the fragments done by others, and revise and bring it all into line.  But this is another step forward, and a very welcome one.  I shall be very glad to see the back of the Syriac fragments.

I also have some manuscript fragments, which I need to look up again and pass to him.  More later on this.  Today seems to be a day when *everyone* has written to me.

It’s just as well I’m at home this week, recovering from a vicious virus, or I wouldn’t be able to respond to it all.

Oh, and Origen, Homily 9 on Ezekiel, is now done as well.  Only five to go!

Typesetting and other evils

Sooner or later I’m going to receive the final versions of the translations that I have commissioned of Eusebius Quaestiones and Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel.  I want to sell some copies of these to libraries.  Firstly, that will get them into the hands of the academic constituency, who still turn their noses up at online resources.  Secondly it will give them a better chance of survival; websites can be ephemeral.  And thirdly, it should help recoup some of the costs — not a small issue, since I looked today at the total bill and it is not small.

I’ve never published a thing, so it’s all a bit new to me.  What I want is to use print-on-demand if possible, but not produce anything rubbish; the libraries will not want to buy rubbish, and all the purchasers will be able to evaluate, really, is the quality of book making.

So probably it should be hardback, a sewn binding, on good quality paper.  That says I ought to use traditional publishing, if I could find it.  But I don’t really want 50 or 100 copies on my floor, which points to print-on-demand and sites like and  Trouble is, the books these produce are not conspicuous for quality.

I certainly need to get it typeset, or look unbearably amateurish.  I don’t know anything about typesetting, or how one does this or gets it done.

Does anyone have any ideas?  Say it’s 100 pages, about the size of A5, a Loeb, or a Sources Chretiennes edition?

Another homily of Origen on Ezekiel

The draft of the 9th homily on Ezekiel by Origen has arrived from the translator, and is excellent, with little to do on it.  This homily also could probably be preached today, just as it is.

The homilies give us a picture of Origen the preacher, a humble, learned man, eager to help explain the difficult places of scripture in ways that everyone could understand.  Instead of the airy speculation that we associate with the name we see a practical man.

It is remarkable to me that these works, easily the most accessible of his works, have remained untranslated until today.

Origen updates, and more

Just to let you know that Homily on Ezechiel 7 has been done and paid for. I’ve also seen the draft of homily 8, which will be done soon I think.  The “Tammuz” fragment has been revised and is paid for also.  So some very good progress.

The chap who agreed to translate the recently discovered 60% of Chrysostom’s Oration 2 against the Jews has written to tell me that he has broken his ankle and can’t get around much. 

No progress on any of the Arabic since last time.  The lady who knows about the Coptic Eusebius has told me that she’s very busy, as is no doubt the case.

I’ve spent today wondering if the blog had a virus.  Fortunately not; it just had a bad plugin installed (phew!).

How big is my Migne?

If I’m going to get the Selecta in Ezechielem of Origen translated from the Migne edition (PG13), I need to work out a price.  I’ve already agreed a price per page of the Sources Chrétiennes text; how does this relate to a column of Migne?

It turns out that a full column of Migne is about twice the size of the same full page of an SC edition, which was a surprise.  It shows just how much stuff the good Abbé was able to cram into his not inconsiderable volumes.

The Selecta are cols. 767-825 in PG13; but of course alternate columns are the Latin translation, so there’s only 29 columns of text.  The online Google books edition of the PG13 is damaged at this point; several pages are unreadable, clearly because the copyist lifted the volume before the page was copied.  Fortunately I have a better copy.  I wonder how I can report the book and get the Google books errors fixed?

Origen’s “Selecta” and Tammuz

The Origen project translator has kindly translated the bit from the Selecta in Ezechielem about Tammuz:

On Ezek. 8.14

Mourning for Tammuz. It is said that the one called Adonis among the Greeks is named Tammuz among the Hebrews and Syrians. So then, in terms of the literal reading, the women were seen sitting “on the front porch of the north-facing gate of the Lord’s house” [i.e., the temple] and “mourning for Tammuz” in keeping with a certain Gentile practice belonging to those who are outside [true] religion †of the doors†. For they seem to perform certain mystic rites [τελεταί] yearly: first, they mourn for him as [though he is] dead; second, they rejoice over him as though he has risen from the dead. And those who are skilled in the symbolic interpretation [αναγωγή] of Greek myths and in the practice of “mythical theology” say that Adonis is a symbol of the fruits of the earth, which are lamented [as dead] when they are sown, but [afterwards] rise again and for this reason cause the farmers to rejoice as they grow. Thus, I think that those women who mourn for Tammuz are a symbol of those who yearn after the things of the world that are considered good, and bodily fruits / profits / rewards, but known nothing beyond material and perceptible things—they are pained by deprivation from these things, and pleased by their presence and the acquisition of such things. But all such people would rightly be considered to be womanish in soul.

He’s also taken a look at De la Rue’s introduction, which I partly translated last time, and adds:

To your account of PG 12:9 at the blog, note also that he says (regarding method of editing), that even if the catenae were unanimous in attributing something to Origen, if he found the comment in the published commentaries of other Fathers, he omitted it here. If there was disagreement on the attribution between different catenae, he omitted (perhaps, unless it was confirmed by agreement with the Latin translations of Rufinus or Jerome) — and that (unsurprisingly!) the fragments are often incomplete (interruptus) and sometimes corrupt (one would almost have to be an Oedipus to arrive at a conjecture!): hence bear with him if there are mistakes in his Latin translation of them…

He adds:

What still puzzles me is that Baehrens quotes a fair amount of text as “Sel. in Ezech.” which is *not* printed in the separate section of PG 13 but in footnotes to the text–which appear in PG, and in Lommatzsch are attributed to Delarue (“Ruaeus”). 

No doubt some note somewhere explains this, but I have yet to find it.  It might be worth going direct to De la Rue’s edition, rather than the reprint.

More on the “Selecta” of Origen in the Migne edition

I’ve been looking around for more information on these mysterious chunks of Greek, found in PG 12 and PG13.  Migne is really very vague about the origins of this material, and it isn’t even mentioned in Quasten.  However at the start of PG 12, where the biblical materials of Origen begin, there is a praefatio (col. 9), which looks relevant.

The second volume of the works of Origen includes many fragments of his exegetical works on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, …, partly already printed, some made public for the first time.  We have edited whatever remains of the Latin version by Rufinus faithfully from the old manuscripts.  But we have added the Greek fragments in this edition … whatever is collected in the Greek Catenas under the name of Origen.  I have looked at all the fragments ascribed to him, whether those of Combefis from Paris mss, or those which Ernest Grabius copied from English manuscripts.  Those were kindly communicated to me by the learned Fr. Louis de Touremine, SJ … ; but these were transmitted to me by the learned English doctors Walker and Bentley.  I have also seen the fragments which in many places appear in the various Greek Catenae of the Fathers, which were published by Corderius, Barbarus, Ghislerius, Comitolus, Patritius Junius, and others.  But the accuracy of everything in the catenas is uncertain… the names of the writer of the same fragment is given in one catena as Origen, in another as Didymus, or Eusebius, or Theodoret, or others. … [he uses his judgement as to what to include].

So it looks as if the Selecta are essentially extracts from the catenas.  Each extract in a catena relates to a specific bible verse; so the editor has merely compiled these, for each work, extract by extract, in chapter/verse order.  There seem to be Selecta printed for each of the homilies of Origen.

The title page of PG 12 tells me that the works are edited by Charles and Charles Vincent de la Rue, priests and monks of the Benedictine congregation of St. Maur.  So Migne is merely reprinting the Maurist edition, it seems; yours, according to the title page, for 15 francs.

Origen, Selecta in Ezechielem

The translation of Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel is proceeding well.  But the Migne edition (PG 13) also contains Greek fragments, labelled Selecta in Ezechielem.  The question has arisen as to what to do about these; to translate, or not?

A google search revealed that this is mentioned in E. A. de Boer, John Calvin on the visions of Ezekiel: historical and hermeneutical studies, p.20.

To Origen the whole of Scripture, not only certain passages, has a deeper meaning. In the end, typology in theory as Smalley described it, becomes allegory in practice. Any element in the text that is not at once clear to Origen in its literal meaning, must have a deeper spiritual sense.

Origen’s sermons were taken down by stenographers during the service, written out in full afterwards and later published, the same method that gave us Calvin’s homilies. Origen does not comment on the whole book, but follows the passages agreed upon in the lectionary of the liturgy. The aim of this practice was to cover the main parts of the Bible in preaching in a set course of three years. The texts from Ezekiel came in the second year, about halfway in the cycle. Origen does not treat his whole passage exegctically, but explains it in simple terms of exhortation.5 The sermons that survive were translated by Jerome into Latin.6 When Jerome composed his own commentary (one and a half centuries later), he did not ignore the exegetical tradition.

In the original Greek we also possess Origen’s Selecta in Ezechielem, together forming a small commentary. The more difficult passages are explained in excerpta, exegetical notes or scholia on Ezek. 1-30.7 He not only occupied himself with the texts from the prophet Ezekiel, handed to him by the lectionary, but also studied the book as a whole. His commentary has not survived.8 In his various prefaces Jerome distinguished three categories in Origen’s biblical work: the commentary, the homilies and the notes.” It may be, however, that the notes on Ezekiel, gathered as Selecta, were originally part of the commentary. One thing is certain, Origen was the first Church Father who intensively occupied himself at various times with the hook of Ezekiel and left his mark on the following history of exegesis.

5 The sermons cover the following passages from Ezechiel: sermon 1: Ez. 1:1 6, 2:lff; II: 13:1-9: III: 13:1, 17-22, 14:1-8; IV: 13:14-22; V: 14:13-21, 15:1-4; VI: 16:2 16; VII: 16:16 30; VIII: 16:30 33; IX: 16:45-52; X: 16:45 52; XI: 17:1 7; XII: 17:12-21; XIII: 28: 12-23; XIV: 44:1-3. We use the edition in Sources chretiennes, vol. 352, Homilies sur Ezechiel, cd. M. Bonnet Paris: Cerf, 1989.

6 Jerome did not always translate Origen’s sermons literaly (although against the critique of Rufinus he maintained that he did), but added some material to Origen’s text (cf. E. Klostermann, as quoted by Dennis Brown, o.c., 110).

7 Selecta in Ezechielem in: Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 13 (Origenis Opera omnia), 767 -826 which cover only Chapters 1 30). These fragments were collected from the catenae.

8 A tiny parcel (on Ez. XXXIV. 17) of a commentary in twentv five books survived (PG 13, 663-665).

In searching I found a footnote in one of the somewhat dubious mythology books of J.G.Frazer, telling us that Tammuz and Adonis are identified as the same god in the Selecta in Ezechielem PG 13, col. 797.  Another page of atheist polemic states:

Origen discusses Tammuz (whom he associates with Adonis) in his “Comments on Ezekiel” (Selecta in Ezechielem), noting that “they say that for a long time certain rites of initiation are conducted: first, that they weep for him, since he has died; second, that they rejoice for him because he has risen from the dead (apo nekrôn anastanti)” (cf. J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca 13:800).

This is apparently the only reference in antiquity to the resurrection of Tammuz, so beloved of a certain sort of Jesus=paganism polemicist.

David W. Chapman, discussing Ancient Jewish and Christian perceptions of crucifixion, tells us that the only link between crucifixion and the Tau cross is found in Tertullian, Adv. Marc. iii, 22:5-6, and in the Selecta, 9 (PG 13, 800d-801a) on the lips of a Judaiser.

In short there are interesting snippets in the text; which suggest that translating them will be time well spent.

Origen on Ezekiel homily 7

I’m just reading through the draft translation of this homily that I’ve been sent.  It is full of good stuff.  Indeed it could probably be preached today with advantage.  The sermons of Origen are highly accessible; indeed it is extraordinary that they have not been translated before now.

It looks to me as if sermon 7 is incomplete in the form in which it has reached us; Origen says he is going to expound something; and the sermon ends two lines later!

I would like to go to bed tonight…

… but clearly everyone is busy, and just as I think I’ve done another email arrives! 

I’ve just had delivery of the first draft of the English translation of Origen’s Homily 7 on Ezechiel.  Great news, actually, and I am really looking forward to letting everyone loose on that.

 And that arrived just as I finished replying to the chap who has done another chunk of the treatise by Hunain ibn Ishaq. It’s a pretty interesting text, actually, which I’ll probably post here; stuff on how you tell a true religion from a false one, by an Arabic Christian working for the Abbassid Caliphs in the high old days of Haroun al-Raschid and the Arabian Nights.

Nice to get the stuff coming in so fast!