Last year we heard that the lost Commentary on Hebrews by Cyril of Alexandria had been rediscovered in three Armenian manuscripts in the Matenadaran library in Yerevan, the Armenian capital. The publisher has now produced an edition in Armenian with facing English translation!
Item number: 100702 Title: Commentary on the Letter to Hebrews (Classical Armenian with English translation) / Մեկնութիւն Եբրայեցւոց թղթոյն (գրաբար բնագիր և անգլերեն թարգմանություն) Author: Cyril of Alexandria Language: Classical Armenian, English
Publication date: 2021
Publisher: Ankyunacar Publishing
This is the first English translation of the newly found Armenian manuscript of Cyril of Alexandria, which is his most comprehensive text of the Commentary on the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews. It contains the full commentary by Cyril of the first three chapters of the Letter to the Hebrews.
Only fragments from the Greek original and Armenian and Syriac translations of the Commentary of the Letter to Hebrews by St. Cyril of Alexandria (†444) were known until now.
The present Armenian critical text and the English translation are placed on facing pages.
The book has an index for both Armenian and English texts.
size 13.5×21 cm
This is excellent news! It means that anybody who buys this will be among the first to read the work since ancient times, and certainly among the first ever English-speakers to read it.
Excellent news today via Matthew R Crawford. It seems that Cyril of Alexandria’s lost Commentary on Hebrews has been discovered. It is preserved in three Armenian manuscripts held in the Matenadaran library in Yerevan, the Armenian capital. An edition has been prepared, and is for sale here at BooksFromArmenia.com, for the modest sum of around $30.
Apparently it’s about 43,000 words in length, filling 220 pages. So this is not a small work. The editor of the critical text is Hacob Keosyan. ISBN 978-9939-850-44-3. At that price, I think they may sell quite a few copies. I’m tempted myself.
The fragments of the Commentary on Hebrews are listed in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum under CPG 5209 (3). It’s in vol. 3, page 8. They were edited by Philip Pusey in an appendix to his edition of the Commentary on John, and also appear in the PG 74, cols. 953-1006. There are Greek, Latin, Syriac and Armenian fragments.
Last year Joel Elowsky produced a translation of Cyril, entitled “Commentaries on Romans, Corinthians, and Hebrews” through IVP, so he has been unfortunate in his timing.
There is an article: Parvis, “The Commentary on Hebrews and the Contra Theodorum of Cyril of Alexandria”, JTS 26 (1975), 415-9. From this I learn that Cyril’s commentary is, inevitably, directed against one of his political-religious foes. In this case it is Theodore of Mopsuestia. It is referred to by one of his opponents, and so must have been written before autumn 432. It must have been written after his feud with Nestorius began in 428.
It is always good to recover a text from the night. Let us hope that someone can produce an English translation of it soon.
The other point that comes to mind is that we need a new and fuller catalogue of the Matenadaran in Yerevan. What else is there, one might wonder?
UPDATE: I have found another article on the web here, in Russian, by “Priest Maksim Nikulin”. The English abstract reads:
In the present article the author studies one of the exegetical works of St. Cyril of Alexandria, his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. This work has been preserved only in fragments contained in catenae, florilegia, and quotations by other authors. The author identifies the texts that have survived to our day and the testimonies of later authors, who confirm that St. Cyril had written a Commentary on Hebrews. The author then provides an overview of the existing publications of this work with an indication of the manuscripts used by scholars of each edition. The author provides the opinions of different scholars about the dating of the work, all of which date it to the anti-Nestorian period of St. Cyril’s life, afer 428 AD. The author comments on the valuable insight by P. M. Parvis, who found in this work a fragment of St. Cyril’s polemics against the Antiochian exegesis and Christology of Teodore of Mopsuestia. The author also considers the hypothesis of P. E. Pusey, who believed that two works of different genres were composed by St. Cyril commenting on Hebrews, as well as the opinions of other scholars about this hypothesis. The author comments on the Armenian fragments of this work studied by J. Lebon. Finally, the author provides a hypothesis about the structure of the work.
I imagine that Dr Nikulin will be excited by the new discovery!