A symposium on Ephrem Graecus next week at Marquette university in Milwaukee

Regular readers will remember “Ephrem Graecus” – the mass of works in Greek which are attributed to Ephraim the Syrian, but which are in fact mostly original compositions.  Little work has been done on this area, which makes it one of the uncharted frontiers of patristics.

Those in the Milwaukee area in the US might like to attend a one-day symposium on Ephrem Graecus next week, on Saturday 9th November.  It’s being run by Tikhon Alexander Pino, who runs the St Ephrem the Syrian website.  The program is here.

If you have any interest in the subject, I’d recommend going along.  It will be a rare opportunity to meet others interested in the subject, and find out what’s going on.  I’d go if I was anywhere nearby.

Ephraim Graecus – a list of works

Just to wrap up my work on Ephraim Graecus, I’ve uploaded a list of works to the site.  This appears as a page in the right-hand side of the blog here.  I give the title of the work, in Greek, the Latin title, where the text  may be found, any translations known to me, and a link to the Greek text where it is online.

The whole list is divided into the seven sections of the Phrantzolas edition, whose titles are also given.

This is the basis for further work.  Go to it, people!

 

Beatitudines aliae, part 5

Continuing!

ϛʹ. Μακάριος ὁ | ἔχων | ἐν νῷ | τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν μέλλουσαν τὴν φοβερὰν | καὶ σπουδάσας ἰάσασθαι | ἐν δάκρυσι τὰ τραύματα τῆς ψυχῆς αὑτοῦ. (VI.  Beatus, qui mente versat formidabilem illam futuri judicii diem, & qui lacrymis vulnera animae suae curare studet.)

A slight change at the front: ὁ rather than ὃς, reflecting the fact that it is followed by a vowel.  But we still have “Blessed [is he] who” plus verb plus something it does.  We’re back to a participle, tho – “having” or better “keeping” – and then “ἐν νῷ”, “in mind”.

Then a bunch of accusatives with the definite article in between, as normal. The noun “τὴν ἡμέραν” = “the day”, its adjective “φοβερὰν” = “fearful”, and a present active participle in the same tense, number and gender, μέλλουσαν which might be given as “forthcoming”.  So: “Blessed [is he] who, keeping in mind the dreadful forthcoming day [of judgement]”?

Then into the main clause.  The word order that follows is the same as for English.  First a verb plus an infinitive: σπουδάσας is an aorist participle, active, masculine, nominative singular, “having been earnest”.  ἰάσασθαι is an aorist infinitive – presumably aorist in order to agree with σπουδάσας –  which means “to heal”. So: “and having been in earnest to heal”.

Then “ἐν δάκρυσι” the latter dative plural, so meaning “in tears”; “τὰ τραύματα”, accusative, so the object of the verbs, meaning “the wounds”.  Which wounds? Three words in the genetive singular follow: “τῆς ψυχῆς αὑτοῦ”, “of his soul”, understanding “psyche” as “soul”, as Traversari does.

But we have a problem.  There is actually no main verb.  Both clauses have an aorist participle as their verb.  This we would usually translate with an English simple past, but the aorist is not that simple. As one writer offers: “But when the aorist participle is related to an aorist main verb, the participle will often be contemporaneous (or simultaneous) to the action of the main verb” (but if the main verb is a present, the aorist will be a past tense).[1]

Traversari wimps out and renders both verbs as active present – “Blessed is he who keeps in mind … and is in earnest…”.  But that won’t do.

Morwood  tells us that the aorist is really about a single event, rather than about time.  Something happened.  The aorist indicative and its participles may place that event in the past, but even that is not always the case.[2]

I am not clear how to resolve this, so perhaps there is not alternative but to bodge it.  Doing so produces interesting effects.  If we try to insert a main verb somewhere, like “is”, it has to go in the first clause, and then the second clause must go into the present also: “Blessed is he who is keeping in mind xxx and has been in earnest to yyy”.  In fact I find that the second clause must be modified to an indicative, do what you will.  So perhaps this?

Blessed [is he] who has kept in mind the dreadful forthcoming day [of judgement], and has been in earnest to heal in tears the wounds of his soul.

Let me finish with a postscript.  While looking vainly for help on the two aorists, I encountered a most interesting looking book on sentence analysis, by none other than the excellent Eleanor Dickey, author of an essential book on Greek scholarship and scholia.  It is An Introduction to the Composition and Analysis of Greek Prose, Cambridge 2016.  There is a preview here.  Sadly the book is neither online, nor sold at a price that a man can afford.  Which is a pity.  Worth a look, if you can access it.

  1. [1]Daniel B. Wallace, The Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar, Preview, or here, p.624.  The phrase is quoted by other writers, so clearly struck a chord.
  2. [2]Morwood, Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek, p.61.  Forms other than the aorist indicative and its participles convey no information on the time of the event.

Beatitudines 4

Here’s the next few sections in Beatitudines aliae capita viginti of Ephraem Graecus.

δʹ. Μακάριος ὃς | γέγονεν ἁγνὸς Θεῷ | καὶ ἅγιος καὶ καθαρὸς | ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν μιασμῶν καὶ λογισμῶν καὶ πράξεων τῶν πονηρῶν. (IV. Beatus, qui castus est Deo, & sanctus ac purus a cunctis immunditiis, cogitationibusque, ac operibus improbis.)

As before, we have “Blessed [is he] who”, plus a verb, “γέγονεν” – has become (perf, indicative, active).  Then the complement, an adjective in the nominative, following by the dative – “ἁγνὸς Θεῷ”, “pure in God”. Then two more nominatives connected by “kai” – “and holy and pure”.

That gives us “pure” twice.  Now “katharos” is definitely “pure”, so perhaps we need a different word for “ἁγνὸς”, “hagnos”.  Lampe gives “chaste”, and Traversari is rendering it as “castus”, as in “castitas”, chastity, so he understood it the same way.  So let’s go with “ἁγνὸς Θεῷ” meaning “chaste in God”.

So far so good: “Blessed [is he] who has become chaste in God, and holy, and pure…”

Then we have a series of nouns all in the genetive; following the preposition ἀπὸ, “from”, which here is pushing the nouns to which it relates into the genetive case.  First of these is πάντων μιασμν.  “Pantos” is “all”, of course.  Lampe does NOT give me anything special for “miasmos”, so I’m getting “scandal” for Attic Greek.  But in the NT it means “defilement”[1] which agrees with Traversari.  Let’s stick with that: “all defilement”.

“logismoi” is thoughts of the heart, as we saw last time.  “Praxeis” is acts, deeds; “poneroi” is “evil”.  I think we may treat “logismoi and praxeis” together as qualified by “poneroi”, by introducing a comma.  All of which resolves to:

4. Blessed [is he] who has become chaste in God, and holy and pure from all defilements, and [from] evil thoughts and deeds.

εʹ. Μακάριος ὃς γέγονεν | ὅλος αὐτὸς ἐλεύθερος | ἐν Κυρίῳ | ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν πραγμάτων | τοῦ βίου τούτου ματαίου.  (V. Beatus, qui totus in Domino est liber a cunctis hujus vanae vitae rebus.)

There’s a lot of similarities here; opening words “Blessed [is he] who has become”, then stuff, then “in the Lord” following by “apo” and a genetive.

“holos autos eleutheros” – autos without article meaning “himself”, so “himself completely free” + “en Kyriow”, “himself completely free in the Lord”.

An aside: I often find it pays to google the odd bit of the Greek.  Googling “ὅλος αὐτὸς ἐλεύθερος” gave me a bonus here: it led me to the Thwaites edition of 1709, the Oxford edition which Assemani reprinted for vols 1 and 2, and for which I was hunting in vain earlier.  It’s here; and I have updated the “main” Ephraim Graecus post / bibliography accordingly.

Then the apo + genetive – “from all of the things”; then a normal genetive, “tou biou” = “of life”, then adjectives for “biou”, “toutou mataiou” so “of this pointless life”.  Putting it all together:

5. Blessed [is he] who has become | himself completely free | in the Lord | from all the things of this pointless life.

It is quite encouraging to go through a list of similar statements like this.  Not so hard on the translator!

  1. [1]See Strong’s, here.

Beatitudines aliae 3 – stepping through the Greek once more

Let’s carry on looking at the Greek of Ephraim Graecus, Beatitudines aliae capita XX.  I apologise if it’s a bit dull, but it’s useful to me.  Into section 3:

γ’. Μακάριος ὃς γέγονεν π τς γς ς ἄγγελος οράνιος κα μιμητς τν Σεραφίμ, γνος ἔχων καθ’ κάστην τος λογισμούς.

Traversari’s modern translation (which helps quite a bit in sorting out the sense):

Beatus, qui in terra est tamquam Angelus coelestis, & imitator factus Seraphim, castas assidue cogitationes habet.

(I.e. Blessed [is he], who on earth is like an angel of heaven, & has become an imitator of the Seraphim, [and] continually has pure thoughts.)

As before, we start with “Μακάριος ὃς”, “Blessed [is he] who“, and we expect a verb.  This time we’re not getting a verb in participle form, but instead a normal main verb, a 3rd person perfect indicative active, “γέγονεν”, “he has become”.  The next bit is simple; π τς γς, meaning “upon the earth”.

Then we get ς, meaning “as, like”.[1]  Alright, Traversari tipped me off; so I hunted around until I found an excuse for it!  But it still fits.  Next ἄγγελος οράνιος, i.e., like a heavenly angel.  Finally “κα μιμητς τν Σεραφίμ”, “and an imitator of the Seraphim”.

So the first clause means:

Blessed [is he], who has become, on earth, like a heavenly angel and an imitator of the seraphim…

Nothing unusual here.

But the rest gets messy.

γνος | ἔχων | καθ’ κάστην | τος λογισμούς.

The object of this clause is the accusative plural, ἁγνος τος λογισμούς =  “pure thoughts”. 

In truth, I’m not sure that I would have recognised λογισμος as “thought”, from Liddell and Scott.  I got the idea from Traversari; but I see that even in Lampe’s Lexicon of Patristic Greek (p.806), meaning 1 is “argument, faith based”.  But meaning 2 is indeed “thought”, thankfully.

ἔχων = a present participle, “having”.

But what on earth is “καθ’ κάστην”?  From googling I find that it appears in Hebrews 3:13, where καθ’ means “each”, and “hekastos” is an adjective meaning “every”, but not as a phrase.  However I find “καθ’ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν” and “καθ’ ἑκάστην τὴν ἡμέραν” both rendered as “every day” in Mastronarde’s Introduction to Attic Greek p.159

This is in fact the meaning. I find in the 1826 A new Greek and English Lexicon by James Donnegan, p.292, in the middle of the entry for hekastos the following entry:

καθ’ ἑκάστην (ἡμέραν understood), every day.

This Traversari has rendered as “continually”.  So we end up with

Blessed [is he], who has become, on earth, like a heavenly angel and an imitator of the seraphim, having pure thoughts every day”.

That was harder work than it should have been!

  1. [1]A nice discussion of conjunctions here.

Beatitudines aliae, section 2

In the comments to my last post it was pointed out that the syntax of the sentence of Beatitudines aliae capita xx is poetic, rather than prose; and the word order is accordingly weird.

The first two “chapters” – or rather sentences – are both in a similar form.  The first clause consists of:

  1. Μακάριος ὃς (“Blessed is he who”), then:
  2. A verb in participle form, meaning “having been/done/hated/whatever”.  This expects an object, but the object is displaced to the end of the clause.  Instead:
  3. A verb or two in the simple indicative, past or present – I am avoiding too much jargin here – meaning “he does/feels/whatever”.
  4. The object.

So in section 1, we had “Blessed is he who, having hated | the human life, abandoned [it]”.  But “the human life” was at the end of the clause.

Section 2 is as follows.

β’. Μακάριος ὃς μισήσας βδελύσσεται τν κακίστην μαρτίαν, Θεν μόνον γαπήσας τν γαθν κα φιλάνθρωπον.

Modern Greek translation, printed by Phrantzolas:

2. Μακάριος αυτός πού μίσησε καί άποστρέφεται την απαίσια αμαρτία, επειδή αγάπησε μόνο τόν αγαθό καί φιλάνθρωπο Θεό.

Traversari’s Latin translation, printed by Assemani:

Beatus, qui odit ac detestatur pessimum peccatum, Deumque solum bonum atque hominum amatorem diligit.

This as before gives a general sense rather than an accurate one.

A kind correspondent pointed out last time that the syntax  of the first clause is in a poetic order, so needs to be rearranged for translation purposes.  We have

Μακάριος, ὃς | μισήσας βδελύσσεται | τν κακίστην μαρτίαν,

Blessed is he, who | having hated the worst sin | loathes [it].

Where βδελύσσεται (normal meaning = loathe) is the active verb (3rd person present indicative middle/passive), and the object is “τν κακίστην μαρτίαν”  (= the worst sin), which we must pull forward after the participle, μισήσας.

A mistake I made last time was in not checking Lampe’s Lexicon of Patristic Greek.  This pays dividends again, for on p.294 I find βδελλύσσομαι given as “abhor”, which is better than loathe.

So far so good.  Now the rest of the clause, which I read as:

Θεν μόνον | γαπήσας | τν γαθν κα φιλάνθρωπον

having loved | only God | [who is] good and loves mankind.

Here I move the aorist active singular masculine participle γαπήσας (“having loved”) to the front, as all the rest are in agreement with “God”.

But this is still not right, I think.  Clearly there is something about the syntax of the second clause that I don’t know, about that aorist participle.  It feels wrong.

Googling I find that an aorist participle should mean a past event, except where the main verb is also aorist, when it can mean a contemporary event.  (It can even mean a subsequent event, rarely! Aargh!)[1]  In our context, that does make sense.

Traversari cheerfully changes the participle into an indicative, and the aorist into the present tense.  He treats it as meaning “loves / values / esteems / aspires to”, which seems about right.  But even here “loving only God…” would be closer.

Putting it together, we get:

2. Blessed is he, who having hated the worst sin, abhors [it], loving only God [who is] good and loves mankind.

Is that right?  Criticisms welcomed below!

  1. [1]See Daniel B. Wallace, here: “The aorist participle, for example, usually denotes antecedent time to that of the controlling verb.[1] But if the main verb is also aorist, this participle may indicate contemporaneous time.[2]” References: “[1]  We are speaking here principally with reference to adverbial (or circumstantial) participles. [2]  Cf. Robertson, Grammar, 1112-13. From my cursory examination of the data, the aorist participle is more frequently contemporaneous in the epistles than in narrative literature. There is also such a thing as an aorist participle of subsequent action, though quite rare.”

Looking at Ephraem Graecus, “Beatitudines aliae capita XX”

Insomnia is a pain.  But it is my lot tonight, so I thought that I’d go and look at Ephraim Graecus’ work Beatitudines aliae capita XX” (Other blessings, 20 chapters).

My first intention was to translate some of the Greek; but I quickly was drawn to the parallel Latin translation printed by Assemani, and originally made by Ambrogio Traversari.  I used to scan quite a bit of Latin, back in the day.  So I wondered what Finereader 12 would make of it.

Well!  I can say that it made a much better job of it than in days of yore.  On the other hand, the long-s is still not recognised.  I had to go through the text and fix each and every one.

Likewise ligatures for -ae are not recognised; quae was usually read as qua: or qux or just qua.

All the same, it scanned fairly well.  But now there is no time for translating.

Anyway here it is:

I’m rather better at Latin than Greek, and I really don’t want anything very challenging at the moment, so I might translate that instead.  Just for fun!

Working on the bibliography of Ephraim Graecus

This is a bit of a computer-y post, so perhaps will be of interest to few.

A couple of days ago I started with a list of PDFs of Greek works of Ephraem Graecus from here, and I opened it up in Notepad++ and global search and replaced on it.  So this:

became this, by changing <li> to <hr>\r\nGreek Title:

A similar process of changes added in blank fields, and became this:

Then it was time to type in some of the data, from the CPG, picking up the pages of the Assemani edition.  The file became this:

Next came the pages of the Phrantzolas edition:

I carried on, until I ended up with a text file like this:

Now this is well and good, but I really wanted to manipulate the data programmatically.

For one thing I knew that the works were in the same order as the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae entries – 001-156 – which meant that all I needed to do was number them.  But I didn’t fancy typing that in.

What I did, therefore, was to turn each row into XML tags, of my own invention.  The file became this:

Of course it is really easy to get the start and end tags mismatched, so I used a free online validator to check the XML, just pasting it in, and dealing with whatever errors it found.

I avoided reformatting the XML in Notepad++, tho.  I did install the XML plugin, and tried it out; but it made the file much less compact – not a great idea if you are paging down it and filling in blank fields, as it doubles your keystrokes.

I then added in the translations information from the Ephraem Graecus website list of translations.  This meant more tags; but of course I could alter the structure as I went along.  I jammed in the data, separated with commas, for speed of entry, and got stuff like this:

So far so good.  But I was beginning to feel the need to start turning the XML into something that could be used in a web page.  That meant coding.

A moment’s thought suggested that I use perl.  I installed Strawberry perl, at the suggestion of the learn.perl.org site.  I had a lot of trouble installing other types of perl.

That done, I opened a command window and installed the CPAN libraries using

This done, I looked for a bit of sample code, which I found here, using the XML::LibXML library.  This I adapted.

I got a lot of “Wide character in print” messages, which turned out to be unicode-related.  I had to specify in the perl to use utf-8, and also that the STDOUT should use it too (see my code below).

When the script ran, the Greek was gibberish.  So I changed the windows console font to “Lucida Console”, and also specified that the code page for it to use was utf-8 by entering the command “chcp 65001”.

But once I had this running, it was fine!

Of course then I had to decide what I wanted my output to look like. I built it up, a bit at a time.  I found there was more than one translation; so I had to create a nested array of translations.  Some translations had a url, because they were online, so I needed a way to have a url.  I had to break up the original <translation> tag above into <info> and <url>.  But I managed.

I kept validating the xml file, and I kept running my perl script.

At the end, the output file looked like this:

So, if you open it in Chrome – the browser everyone uses for web development -, it looks like this:

Not bad!  The first entry is a bit messy, but that was a vice of the original data.  The Phrantzolas edition doesn’t give a title in Greek for the whole work, only for each of 26 bits.  Nor is there one in the CPG.  The links I made up from the <url> tags that were in my file.  I didn’t add much formatting, other than <small> on the editions etc line.

It’s fairly plain HTML.  My guess is that it will paste into a WordPress page quite nicely, in the “Text” tab in the editor.

It may need some rejigging, but the code is hardly complex.

Anyway, here are the complete files, as of today:

This contains the script, a.pl (if I have to type “perl a.pl > op.htm” I want as few characters as possible), the xml file input.xml, and a sample output, op.htm.

Of course the bibliography could be extended mightily, but I don’t propose to do this.  What I really wanted was the cross-reference between the old Assemani edition, the new Phrantzolas edition, and the CPG, plus any translations that were around.  We’ve got more than one translation already for some works.

All this did take a while!  But it was worth it.

From my diary – yes, Ephraem Graecus and Phrantzolas etc

A kind correspondent lent me the missing volume 2 of Phrantzolas today.  So I’ve been able to add the page numbers for the works in this volume into my XML file of works and editions.

I’ve also just gone through the list of translations at Tikhon Alexander Pino’s excellent website, Saint Ephrem the Syrian: Translations from the Greek Corpus, to which all this writing about Ephraim Graecus owes so much.  I’ve added in brief references to these to the XML as well, plus a couple of other sources which I came across independently.

I don’t know if the XML will actually be useful to anyone – it’s all pretty obvious -, but in case it is, I upload it here:

There are probably bugs in this, although I have validated the basic format against this online validator here.  Still, it is what it is.

I’d like to generate a nice human-readable HTML page from this, but I’m running low on time now.  I shall have to go off to work for bread, like everyone else, very soon.  Still… watch this space.

From my diary – still more Phrantzolas and Ephraem Graecus

I have now looked through all the volumes of the Phrantzolas edition of Ephraem Graecus, (except for volume 2 which I do not have), and added all the page numbers of the works, as printed in it, to the file of works and page numbers and editions that I am building up.

Probably I shall have to buy a paper copy of volume 2 in order to do the rest.  It’s 40 euros, tho, including postage from Greece, so I have hesitated.

I’ve also created an XML version of the file, which I’ve sent over to the Pinakes people so that they can add in the Assemani page numbers to their page on the works of Ephraim Graecus.  Their list of works is that of the Phrantzolas edition.

The Phrantzolas edition of Ephraim Graecus is clearly now the “standard edition”.  The Greek text is printed in a modern typeface – the early 18th century Assemani is hardly readable.  The choice of contents is more restricted than Assemani; but many of the “works” listed by Assemani are duplicates, as everyone acknowledges.  It is unfortunate that this edition is present in few western libraries.  None is listed in COPAC for the UK, for instance.

However it is a great pity that K. Phrantzolas did not add a few pages to his work, and explain just why each work or fragment in Assemani was, or was not, included.  All we have is the product of his labour, and his modern Greek translation.  So for works listed in Assemani, but not included by Phrantzolas, the reader is left to wonder whether the item is actually a duplicate, a fragment, and if so, of what?

But with 156 works in Phrantzolas’ 7 volumes, the researcher has plenty to work on!  Also all the works have a modern Greek translation, which will help some; and Assemani prints a Latin translation of all the works he prints.  So even without knowledge of ancient Greek, a researcher should be able to work with the corpus.

I intend to place online my own concordance of the works printed by Phrantzolas, with the pages of Assemani, and a Greek text found online for most of them.  I’m not quite sure what format would be most useful, tho.

My time of leisure is probably coming to an end, and I shall have to go back to work.  So getting that online will be a convenient stopping point for Ephraim Graecus.  I shall try to do that in the next couple of days.