From my diary

I had intended to go to Iceland on holiday this week.  Unfortunately the gods decided otherwise, and Hecate breathed her poisoned breath on me on Saturday.  However all things work together for good, for those who love God, and no doubt this is for the best.

This leaves me here, wasting my time at home, and feeling too washed out even to do anything or read much.  Curiously this variant of the annual scourge doesn’t involve large numbers of tissues.  It should be over soon, I think.

One thing I have done (finally) is to forward the proof corrections for the Origen book to the typesetter.  There’s a general problem in the Greek fragments with the bold formatting, and I had intended to go through this and list the problems page by page.  But a quick look today reveals that it’s a general problem, and that every page has been mis-set wherever it went to multiple columns.  So really there’s nothing to be gained by me repeating that same message for every page.  So I have passed that one to the typesetter.

Back to the sofa for me, I think.  It’s not cold, and the sunlight is cheering, but the virus leaves one feeling so weak!  I shall lie there and read twitter.

From my diary

The translation of Origen’s exegetical works on Ezekiel has been proof-read all the way through, and a long but not very serious list of minor issues produced.  Next week I shall do a comparison of bold-face passages in the PDF with the original Word document, and then send the lot to the typesetter to be fixed.

My sincere thanks to John Literal, who volunteered his time and his eyes to read through the text.  It’s a hard task to do, and impossible for either myself or the translator to do, as we have seen the text so many times.  I am very grateful.  Thank you, John!

From my diary

Back to work!  And suddenly what I think of as my real life slows to a crawl…

The proof-reader for the Origen volume is going great guns.  He’s picked up a lot of niggles of one sort of another, which won’t take much time to fix but would have looked bad.  It was a very good idea to get another pair of eyes on this.

Meanwhile the lady who is typing up al-Makin is also making good progress typing the Arabic text of the second part as printed by Erpenius in 1625.  She’s done 30 pages so far (out of 300).

The French National Library have tried to sell me a microfilm – the actual acetate film – of two manuscripts of al-Makin.  They got huffy when I queried whether it was an electronic PDF, and didn’t tell me what I should have asked.  Hate petty officials.  They will sell me a microfilm for 50 euros; a monochrome (!) PDF for 90 euros.  They should be ashamed to be doing either.  Oh well.

It will be interesting to see if the typist can work with a manuscript image as well as with Erpenius.

From my diary

If you can actually find anything on your hard disk any more — and I know that this can be difficult for many of us — then, sometimes, when you do, you get a little more than you expected.

Regular readers will know that I have arranged to get an electronic text created of the history of al-Makin.  He was a Coptic writer of the 13th century.  A Coptic correspondent knows someone in Egypt who will type it up, for money, if I can send some page images.  So I was looking for some PDF’s of manuscripts.  For most of al-Makin has never been published.

So I went searching for a PDF of a British Library manuscript of al-Makin.  To my deep delight, I discovered, in the folder where I keep the al-Makin PDFs that I have been gathering for some time, PDF’s of a pair of Vatican manuscripts.  I don’t even remember ordering these.  But there they were!  Let’s hear it for consistency in filing!

The PDF’s are of microfilms, and miserable low-quality productions they are too.  But I have them!  That means I have a copy of the first half of al-Makin.

I also found two Paris manuscripts.  I’d forgotten these too; but I quickly recalled what they were, when I looked inside.  The reproductions were of such poor quality that I complained, and, on being given the Gallic shrug, threatened to get my credit card company to block the payment.  I did get my money back in the end for these.  Sadly they were as poor as I recalled, and still unusable for any purpose.

It’s rather daft, but I don’t have any Bodleian manuscripts.  That’s because the blighters charge so much for them.  Indeed one scholar who obtained a copy from them recently had to pay $300 for some shoddy monochrome microfilm images.   I’m not paying that!  I’m willing to do something to get al-Makin accessible, but that is real money.

Anyway, the discovery of the Vatican manuscripts is a great blessing.  My correspondent, who is acting as middle-man between the Egyptian typist and myself, confirmed that the two PDF’s were of the first half of the work.  He also reminded me, gently, that a print version of the second half already exists – in Erpenius’ edition, and a modern French text (which I have!) that completes the work.  So this means I actually do own a complete text of al-Makin, and that means that I can get it typed up!

So suddenly we are go.  I have asked my correspondent to go ahead, and to ask the typist to create a text of the first half of the work.  If we do it in chunks of 10 pages, that should allow me to quality-control it.  Although I can imagine all sorts of things that might go wrong; but here’s hoping.

Nor is al-Makin all that I am thinking about.  Another kind correspondent has sent me some English versions of the life of Nicholas of Myra, mostly from Russian sources.  These are interesting, in that they give the general outline of the Life.  What I would like to find, however, is someone able to translate the Life by Metaphrastes, and materials of that date (9-11th century) from Greek into English.  Aren’t there monasteries full of these people somewhere?  I could pay something, to make it happen.

A kind gentleman is going to read the proof copy of Origen’s Exegetical works on Ezekiel for me.  I’m really sick of the work, and so I can’t really proof it.  I sent off an email about that this evening.

I was going to translate a further chunk of the life of Severus of Antioch this evening, but in the event I felt more like lying on the sofa and reading a novel which Santa brought me.  I think, on Boxing Day, that this is entirely right and proper conduct!

Proof-reader wanted

This morning, to my considerable surprise, the proof copy of Ancient Texts in Translation 2 — Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical works on Ezekiel — arrived on my doorstep.  My surprise was because I do my proof copies through, and I only uploaded the PDF to the site on 18th December.  Six days to print it and deliver it is pretty impressive!  It’s actually taken more time for Neilsen, the ISBN bureau, to add the details to their database (which they still have yet to do properly).

There are quite a few typographical errors — mostly the wrong font being used at various points, etc — which will need fixing.

But I am conscious that I have seen this text rather too many times.  I wonder if anyone would care to help the project along by proof-reading a printed copy and sending in corrections?  I can offer a free copy of the final hardback volume as payment, if that would help.

From my diary

A bit of a red-letter day today: the interior setup of the Origen book — or Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical works on Ezekiel as I must get used to calling it — is complete.  This evening I uploaded the PDF to (which I use to generate proof copies, because Lightning Source do not provide such a facility), and ordered myself a printed and bound copy with a blank cover.

This first proof copy will allow me to check that the PDF actually is right for the printer (well, for a printer), and that the text block doesn’t disappear into the binding and so on.

It’s now the Christmas period, so I don’t suppose this will appear until after Christmas.  But once it has, I will generate another proof copy for the translator; two pairs of eyes being better than one.  There’s bound to be glitches somewhere, but the typesetter, Simon Hartshorne (whom I found through, has really done an excellent and painstaking job.  He’s also verified the requirements of Lightning Source.  Let’s hope that the cold light of print doesn’t reveal too many errors on anybody’s part!

Of course I had no idea how long the book was going to be. will only handle books up to 740 pages.  Fortunately the book is 738 pages, without endleaves, so it will just scrape in!

The cover design is finalised, and the templates for the hardback and softback covers will be obtained and completed this week.  Simon Hartshorne is doing the cover design as well, and he found a very acceptable pair of cover photographs.  It was almost a pity that we couldn’t use both!

I have to admit that Simon has rescued the project, which had languished for a year or two now.  The speed and efficiency with which he proceeded through the book — even though I don’t think that he had ever set up an academic book with facing Latin/Greek and English pages — gave everyone an impetus to do the 1% remaining writing.  He priced competitively as well.

It’s a big step forward.  I’m hoping to have the book on sale by the start of March 2014.

From my diary

Is it just me, or is everyone frenetically busy right now?  For myself, it’s ridiculous; every day seems to bring an interesting or important email (or three) that I simply must deal with.  Often the issue is something well worth blogging about as well.   So suddenly I find myself snowed under.

This week the new book — Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel, plus fragments — is bing typeset.  It’s nearly all set up in Adobe Indesign, and looking very good.  I suspect that by the weekend it will be complete.  I shall then have to set up a project in and print a proof copy, to check the PDF and see how it looks in bound form.  I shall also have to get the cover design done.  “Something more green than blue” is as far as I have got.  Then I can get it set up at Lightning Source and formally published.

I don’t know that the book will sell all that many copies.  But of course the object is to get it online.  So whatever sales it makes will help to defray the costs, and whatever loss it makes is one that I can cope with.  Sometime in 2014 I think it will go online.

UPDATE: One slightly embarassing probem with the project has been my own inability to spell “Ezekiel”.  I have often given it as “Ezechiel”, influenced by the French translation of Borret, and the Latin Selecta in Ezechielem.  Today I went through old posts and fixed all that I could find.  It is horrifying to discover that this project was in full flight in … 2009!!!  I was much younger then, or at least I felt so.  Those posts make clear that I never expected this to last more than 4 years!

More on the translation of Origen’s homilies on Ezekiel

Back in 2011-12, a translation of all of Origen’s works or fragments of works on Ezekiel was in progress.  Things went very quiet, but the book more or less existed on disk, awaiting sufficient time to do something about it.

This week I have been getting the first homily set up in Adobe Indesign CS5.  The PDF looks very reasonable, although not quite right.

This evening I have sent some comments on it to the typesetter.  I have also sent him some more homilies.  This has meant going through some of the .doc files, and removing highlighting from the last batch of changes.  In some cases the highlighting in purple refuses to be removed at all, and I have to retype the text.  This is unwelcome, it must be said.

I find some areas where the book is incomplete.  The translator’s preface was never written, nor did I get any details to write his blurb.   These are minor things; I can compose both if need be.

More seriously a set of additional fragments — welcome of themselves — needs to be integrated into the main text of the fragments, which will be a pain for me to do.  But it is probably do-able, although I’m not sure that I have the bibliography in every case.

All the same I am encouraged.  It looks possible, for the first time in a year, that this particular project can be completed and issued.

From my diary

I’ve started OCR-ing the commentary of Theodoret on Romans from the Christian Remembrancer of 1839.  The translation belongs to the Oxford Movement period, so is pretty stodgy.  I’ve not seen any indication yet of who the translator is. 

I’ve also bought a copy of Adobe InDesign CS 5.5 from Amazon, at some terrifying price.  At least I can reclaim the 20% VAT (and isn’t it outrageous that if I buy something from you, we have to give the government an extra 20% of the money we pass between us, just to prevent them throwing us in prison?)  This should arrive later this week.  When it does, I shall tentatively try doing some typesetting experiments on the Origen book, and request a print via  Since I have to learn how to do it, the sooner I get that underway the better.  The book needs more editorial work, but I can do that while waiting for the printed-out form to appear.

That trip to Israel was good, but not relaxing, and the very long days of travel have left me rather tired!  My apologies to anyone awaiting an email reply.  I will get to you.

Meanwhile I need to find a further foreign trip to go on, before I have to go back to the treadmill in a week or two.

From my diary

I’ve been preparing for my forthcoming trip to Israel by getting dollars and shekels etc.

One thing that has amused me rather is that, after arriving in Jerusalem at 5am on an overnight flight, we’re taken sightseeing!  There is quite a full programme for the day, with a break mid-morning at the hotel.  That sounds a little odd to me — most of us will be dead from not-sleeping on the plane.  Methinks the organisers have got a little over-enthusiastic!

The Origen book is going great guns, and I think it must be pretty much complete, as far as text and translation go.  I need to review it, and see precisely where we are, but couldn’t do it today.  Tomorrow I have a Rather Important Interview, but with luck I’ll have time to do something afterwards.

The snow here is interfering with Christian events locally, but I have managed to attend a few.  Some have been blessed; others decidedly not!  Such is life.