From my diary

I went to Cambridge today to take a look at Roger Cowley, Ethiopian biblical interpretation, Cambridge 1989.  There is supposed to be a reference to a possible Ethiopic version of some of the Eusebius, Gospel Problems and Solutions material.  Unfortunately I was quite unable to find it.  I’ll have to order up the book by ILL and look then.

Another update has come through on the Origen book.  With luck the main bulk of the work will be done by Friday, I am advised.  That will be very good news.


From my diary

Proofing of the Latin text of Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel 8-10 has completed, and I have been sent a revised text of these, plus some tweaks to the English. 

Tommy Heyne has kindly sent me a copy of his article on Tertullian and Medicine from Studia Patristica 50, for upload to the Tertullian Project.  I’ll do this in a day or two.  Tertullian’s works contain considerable allusions to ancient medicine, including fragments of writers like Soranus, and he refers to abortions performed by these bunglers in condemning the practice.


From my diary

This afternoon I sat down with Origen, Homilies on Ezekiel 8-10 (and Jerome’s preface), and compared our translation with the 2010 ACW one.  The object of the exercise was to locate any serious differences in understanding, and allow us to revise the translation if the ACW version suggested an improvement.  I am pleased to say that I think all the deviations so far are in our favour.  There is one obscure section where I am not convinced that we are right, but we’ll see.  I’ve passed this material over to the translator for review.  I still have homilies 11-14 to do, but I think I have done what I will do today.  It is hard work!

This evening I’ve been playing with Abbyy Finereader 11, using the PDF’s of the unpublished translation of Book of Asaph the Physician, discovered by Douglas Galbi at the US National Library of Medicine.  I don’t know a sausage about this text, I should say at once, so it’s a voyage of discovery here.  I’m not committed to OCR’ing it either!  But it’s a convenient vehicle for experimentation.

Now in the past I found that Finereader 11 wouldn’t play with my Finereader 10 projects, so I ignored it.  But starting afresh, I’m discovering some interesting and useful new facilities.

The photos of Asaph are all rather skewed.  This is inevitable in photographing books, unless you can press the pages on a glass to get them flat.

But in Finereader 11, I find that some new tools have been added to the image editor.  There’s a very nice facility to adjust for “trapezium” effects — and it works well.  Even better is the line straightener.  Also there is a brightness/contrast control. If the type on the far side of the paper shows through, you can lose it by increasing the brightness.

The image files for Asaph are pretty bulky, so things are slow.  But I was able to turn a page that was skewed to blazes back into something straight.  Skewed pages require intervention on pretty much every line, which slows OCR to a crawl.  But Finereader 11 can cope with this.  I’d like the facility to apply the same deskew to a bunch of images, rather than one-by-one, tho.

Something Abbyy could usefully do is allow us to change the background colour of the OCR window.  The green-ish coloured images result in a green-ish coloured background in the text window, for some reason, and this is very unpleasant and impossible to remove.

One pleasing thing that I see has at last arrived: an “insert symbol” facility.  Long overdue and very welcome it is too!


More Origen Update

Further to my post earlier today, the 7th homily of Origen on Ezekiel is now done, complete.  That was a very quick turnaround, thankfully.  We should have about an hour’s worth of formatting on homilies 8-14, and then an unspecified (but hopefully short!) period of checking the Latin text of 8-14 for typos. 

I, for my sins (which are evidently considerable), get to compare 8-14 with the existing translation (which I shall do tomorrow).  And then, really, the book is done.  The translator will write his own preface, of course, but that won’t hold anything up.

What I shall have to do after that is typesetting.  This is done in Adobe InDesign, and I shall have to get a copy and see if I can work it out. 

Because the rival translation came out in 2010, I don’t really expect to make any money on this volume.  So I hope to keep costs to a minimum!  That means doing more myself.


Origen update

There’s not that much more to do on the Origen on Ezekiel book, and the translator has been in touch.  Homily 7 needs revision, which is the next priority.  After that, there’s some formatting changes to homilies 8-14, which is a couple of hours work, plus removing the Greek fragments from the footnotes (as these are now in a much more extensive section by themselves).

We need some proofing done on the Latin text of 8-14, and I’ve emailed a couple of people to ask if they’d do it. 

I also need to go through the existing translation by Thomas Scheck for the same homilies, and highlight any serious deviations for consideration by the translator.

It would be nice to get all this done this week…  No real reason why not.


From my diary

I’ve done some more editorial work on the Origen book today, and I’ve sent the book — which is really starting to assume a book-like form now — to the translator for his input.  I’ve been staring at the pages for the best part of the last three days, and I think I’ll award myself the rest of the day off! 

I’ve also received two more old books on religion in the Soviet Union by Michael Bourdeaux of Keston College.  I might see if I feel like passing one of these through the scanner.

It’s dull and grey here, although we had flickers of sun at lunchtime.  It’s hard to wake properly, I find.  On a whim I went down to Pin Mill and had lunch in the Butt and Oyster pub.  I sat in the room with a bay window over the river.  The tide was out and the mud-flats were exposed.  Sunlight illuminated the woods and lawns of the large house across the river.  Nobody was about on the river.  A few large working barges were drawn up near the hard, as they always are.  Few people there, and the place looked little changed since my last visit, which was, I fear, probably a dozen years ago.  But it’s very mild — 12C at lunchtime isn’t bad for New Year’s Eve.


Origen project update

The project to translate Origen’s exegetical works on Ezekiel has been dormant for so long than many readers will not remember it.  But again the idea is to commission a translation of these things, print them in book form with facing text, sell enough copies to recoup the cost of translation etc, and, once that is done, place the translation online where it can be freely available.  This kicked off in 2009.

The project was slightly torpedoed by the appearance of Thomas Scheck’s translation in 2010 in the Ancient Christian Writers series.  When the project started, there was no English translation of any of this material.

But our book is larger.  Origen wrote 25 books of commentaries — all lost, except 1 fragment in the Philocalia, 14 homilies (which exist only in the Latin translation by St. Jerome),  and scholia.  Substantial material by “Origen” is quoted in the medieval Greek bible commentaries, made up of ‘chains’ of quotations from the Fathers, (=catenas) on Ezekiel.  This includes parts of the lost Greek text of the homilies, plus material probably from the scholia, as well as spurious material.

We’ve done the lot.  We started with the material in PG 13, but the translator, bless him, searched out material in Mai and Pitra and elsewhere that isn’t in the PG13.

Once again we should be doing a service.  Scheck only did a translation of the homilies in Jerome’s Latin version.  We’re doing the lot; Jerome, the Greek, the fragments, everything we can find.  The Greek fragments have always been neglected.  De la Rue, in 1733, collected them; and no-one much has made any effort with them since.  There’s a text-critical project there, if someone would grab hold of it.

An evil thought has just hit me: I bet that there is material in Coptic, if we actually have any Coptic catenas on Ezekiel.  But here my knowledge stops.  I don’t know much about Old Testament catenas.  Hmmm.

Anyway today has been busy.  Up first thing and rushed to the laptop.  I’ve done a lot to the preface to the Greek fragments, although it needs revision by printing off and sitting down with a biro.  I’ve created a spreadsheet of all the bits, and marked the status of all of it.  And I’ve updated all the files that need revision with a banner at the top listing what needs to be done.

Which turns out to be … not much.

I’ve also heard back from the translator (who is on holiday, but still answering questions), that he has some time next week.

I think we’ll finish it off, at least as far as pre-editorial work is concerned, next week! 

I’ll send the translator a drop of the book in zip form at the end of today.  Meanwhile, I have stuff to write.


From my diary

I’ve written a new beginning to the introduction to the Greek fragments of Origen’s works on Ezekiel.  The existing introduction is full of good stuff, but starts off a couple of rungs above the ground level! 

It was tricky to do, as well.  My first effort didn’t work, and I had to try again before getting anywhere.

I’ve also moved the files for the book into a directory and placed them under version control (in SVN).  I did this for the Eusebius book, and, although I never needed to go back, it was a considerable comfort knowing that one could!

And … somehow the afternoon has gone.  That was 5 hours work. 


Searching for Lommatzsch

I’m going through the Greek fragments of Origen’s works on Ezekiel at the moment.  The first thing I need to do is to get straight in my head just where all of them come from.  The translator has done a marvellous job of assembling material, but I got very confused from the emails, both at the time and afterwards.  The fault was entirely mine, in that I didn’t gather all the primary materials myself.

The real source for most of them is Migne, PG 13 (1862), cols. 662-826.  Migne reprints an edition by the Maurist editor, Charles Delarue.  But … the GCS editor, Baehrens, who printed the Latin text plus some Greek fragments, had no access to Delarue.  So he used a reprint by Carl Lommatzsch. 

Confused?  That, dear friends, is a clear explanation, compared to what I started with this afternoon!

I’d like to look at these editions and make sure.  Google books has some volumes of Lommatzsch’s edition, but, bless them, have the lot!  Lommatzsch vol. 14 is, therefore, right here.  It looks exactly like Migne.

What I really want is De la Rue’s volume, but it doesn’t seem to be on Google books.