From my diary

Some days, nothing works.  Anything we attempt only gets us bogged down.

What we do then, however, depends on us.  I usually keep hammering away, getting more and more frazzled in the process.  By the time I’ve got past the obstacles — and, being a determined soul, I usually do — I’m too frazzled to care about whatever I was trying to do in the first place.

Interestingly a nice experience towards the end can change the whole mood.  I’ve just had this happen, and I mention it because it’s perhaps something that we need to look for.

Today my plan was to do some work on the Origen book.  In preparation for this, yesterday I printed off all the Greek fragments of Origen on Ezekiel, plus the translation.   I don’t want to spend my holiday doing this, but I have to, if the book is to move forward.  OK, I’ll grin and bear it. The print is about an inch of paper.  I then received an updated version of these files, which is good but means I have to print them again.

After lunch today, I went up to print out the new versions.  I got 10 pages and  then my laser printer informed me that it wanted a new toner cartridge.  Bother!  I don’t need to be distracted bby this, but I’ve no choice.  Hastily I look online for the Brother HL-2030, and find that the cartridge is a TN2000.  I gasp at the vast sum demanded.  But I don’t want to delay.  I need to do this now.  I’ll have to accept the rip-off.  So off I go to PC World.  They have one, and I buy it.  For some reason the sales assistant decides to play me up, but I get past that, although not without my stress level getting increased.

Back I come, open it, try to fit it, and … it doesn’t fit.  It nearly does — it’s exactly the same shape and size — but some plastic lug prevents it quite seating.  I look at the old cartridge and it says “TN-2005”!  I look at the printer, and it’s actually an HL-2035.  One character difference; and I’m 62 GBP out of pocket.  My haste has lost me time and money.  I recheck, more carefully.  Off I go, back to PC World.  And … they don’t have a TN2005.  Down to Staples instead, and they do, and I go to the ’till.

But then a miracle happens.  The card payment is slow, and so I joke with the assistant about this.  She — a sad-looking girl who plainly wishes she was elsewhere — comments how supermarket card readers are much faster, and, a joke or two later, both of us are smiling.  And I come out of there feeling happy again. 

I’m printing off the stuff as I speak.  And, funnily enough, I’m back in the mood to work on it.

I need to compile a table of all the Greek fragments, I think.  Then I can see what we have and where these are. 


Origen project update

The translator sent me a bunch of Greek fragments with translation of the Homilies on Ezekiel today.  That was very nice to receive.

I’ve been gathering the latest version of the files together, and adding a key on the front of the file name so they sort in the order that they will appear in the book:

It’s actually encouraging to see the outline of the Origen book starting to take shape in Windows Explorer.

I’ve also printed off a couple of inches of stuff related to the Greek fragments, and assembled all the original source PDF’s for the whole book.  I now need to go through this and work out what I do, and do not, have. 

I think a simple list of all the fragments of the Greek text, with publication date and page and author, would be a good start!

But I’ve worked hard today.  I’ll pick that up tomorrow.


From my diary

Lots of excitement on the Methodius manuscripts this morning — Adrian Tanasescu-Vlas has been through the STSL Ms. 40 and identified the works on Methodius in it.  I’ll do some more on this after lunch.  He confirms that De lepra is in there, which means that it is now possible to get someone who knows the language to translate it into English.

I’ve been thinking more about the Origen book, which hasn’t progressed in 18 months.  This means that, without intervention, it will never be done. Possibly the way to progress this is to bring in a collaborator, charged with finishing it off.

Meanwhile the postman brought me a parcel which proved to contain a paperback of Mithras : de geheimzinnige god, complete with colour cover and a stiff-looking picture of Maarten Vermaseren on the back.  I shall attempt to convert this into a PDF this afternoon, since it will be much more useful that way.  I hope that I don’t destroy it in the process, but I have my doubts.

Maarten Vermaseren, 1959

More on the Origen status

Well, I’ve spent a couple of hours so far sifting through the Origen project materials.  It’s still very hard to work out what is where.  The Greek fragments are certainly in something of a mess, and I need to understand better what is involved and included. 

The problem is that I lost understanding somewhere along the way, back in the day — because of pressure of other things.  My fault, of course; but now I pay for it.

I probably need to print off a LOT of emails and let the miracle of paper and a ballpoint pen help me wade through it all!


From my diary

Very busy this week with work-related stuff; too much so, to do anything useful! 

The fragments of Philip of Side are coming along nicely. The translator is doing his usual excellent job and ferreting out a lot of useful related information buried in articles in languages none of us know.  The publication — which will be free and online — will be an excellent one.

One interesting issue arose concerning the text to translate of the fragments contained in the Religionsgesprach text — a 6th century fictional dialogue at the court of the Sassanids.  This was printed by Bratke, but a critical edition does exist, in a thesis form, by Pauline Bringel.  The two texts are rather different, even aside from the fact that Bringel identified two recensions of the text.  We’re going to use Bratke, tho, and footnote differences.  Bratke is accessible.  Bringel will not be publishing her thesis any time soon, I learn, although the Sources Chretiennes would publish it, because of pressure of teaching duties.  There would be little point in doing a translation from a text that none have access to.

This weekend is deadline time for contributors to the Eusebius project.  There is more that could be done to the Coptic materials — but there has to be a limit some time!  The translator is sending me hard-copy of proof-changes, which I hope will arrive tomorrow.  I’m afraid it looks as if I may have to learn the Coptic alphabet to do some work on it, which is a nuisance, but there we are.  However I shall do the minimum possible!  With luck I can put the Coptic fragments to bed this weekend.  I still need to resolve issues with fonts, tho.  I’m still awaiting the transcription of the Syriac fragments, but I am told this will be ready on time, but not before.  The Latin fragments I revised last night and are now — thankfully — done.  An index of fragments and publications that I commissioned is in Excel, and needs more work and to be turned into a Word document.

The translator of the Origen Homilies on Ezechiel has found some more materials that probably derive from Origen’s Scholia on Ezechiel; these will be added in.  I have admonished him to remember to take a summer holiday!

On a quite different subject, I had to rebuild the installer of QuickLatin, the tool that I sell ($29) to help people with Latin.  My local anti-virus wailed about “unsigned code”, and I have been trying to work out how to sign a .exe file.  Apparently no-one wants to make it too easy, although why anyone would want to make a security measure hard to implement I can’t imagine.  I tried to f ind out this afternoon and failed.  Oh well.  It can go unsigned a while longer. 

I’m still thinking about going to the UK patristics conference at Durham in September.  I may yet go.  But I’ll wait until July at least, because I don’t quite know what will happen to me in my current freelance job.  I may need to find a new contract in a month, although I suspect that I shall end up with time off this summer!  And I shall take some time off too. 

I’ve also had a lot of correspondance this week, much of it very interesting.  One chap who is interested in Coptic turns out to have a PDF of the British Library manuscript containing De Lagarde’s catena.  This is the catena which I am publishing the Coptic from.  He declined to give me a copy of it, because of fears about copyright — not entirely unreasonable, considering that today there was an announcement about more enforcement measures by the regulator, OFCOM.  But he did let me see a  page with the first Eusebius entry on it.  The Coptic text was extremely clear, and interestingly there was a difference from De Lagarde’s printed version.  De Lagarde runs the text together, and the names of the authors of each bit appear inline.  But in the ms. the “Eusebius” was actually on a separate line!  I’d show you, but apparently the British Library don’t want you to see it unless we pay them money. 

It did leave me wondering what the point of running a public collection of manuscripts is, when circulation of images is prohibited!  But I think I’ve asked that question before.


From my diary

This is a busy time of year, when the government requires that we do unpaid labour as clerks, filling in tax returns.  It’s worse if you are self-employed, for your business also must be accounted for to the tax collectors.  That time is now upon me.  Still there is progress.

The Eusebius project is now awaiting a transcription of the Syriac fragments.  This will be done by the end of May, I have been told.  That date is now my target date for completion of the editing of the volume.  I’m also awaiting some tweaks to the Coptic translation, but these can be omitted if need be.

The Origen project has passed a milestone.  The final version of the text and translation of all the Greek fragments of Origen’s Homilies on Ezechiel and other works on the same book has now been done.  The introduction to that section needs a few changes, but the body is done.  The translation of the Latin needs some revision, but only five sermons remain to do.

The translation of John Chrysostom’s In Kalendas, on the pagan festival of New Year, is proceeding apace and another chunk arrived today.  This will be given away online.

My own translation of Chrysostom’s first sermon is about half done.  It’s not a great sermon — nor a great translation! — but it will get done as and when I can get time from chores.

A sample of Severian of Gabala’s sermon De pace is now with the reviewer.  The latter will also soon finish up his translation of Eusebius’ De solemnitate paschalis, which will also go online.

So … much going on.


Origen project update

The translation of the Homilies on Ezechiel by Origen is almost done.  There’s merely revision to do. 

But a project can get very bogged down at that stage.  The very lack of structure can give a feeling of sinking in a morass!

I always hate it when I’m handed something like that at work.  It’s slow, dull, work, with little feeling of achievement.

The way I handle it at work is to work with my boss, and break it down into defined chunks, each no larger than 1 day of work.  Then at least I get a feeling of progress as I tick each one off.

I’ve proposed to the translator that we do something similar here.  It will also allow me to see progress, and to pay for it as I go. 


Thinking about typesetting

The two translations that I have commissioned are both very nearly complete.  In fact I hunger for the day when they will be entirely complete — which will probably be in a month or two.  It is remarkable how long it has all taken.

Then I need to create a book form of them both, so that I can sell copies to libraries.  This will ensure availability in that community, and perhaps recover some of the commissioning costs.

The unwary start with Microsoft Word, create a PDF and send it to a print-on-demand site like  Then they wonder why it doesn’t look right.

Part of the reason is typesetting.  By default Word does not kern text — that is, move letters like AVA together so that there isn’t a big gap between them.  It can be turned on, under font formatting.

Likewise book publishers do not rely on Times Roman, but use professional fonts like Bembo and Baskerville.

I am profoundly conscious that this is a specialised area, which I have no real desire to learn.  Surely it should be possible to hire in the skill at a reasonable price?

I’ve found a forum here of people offering their services; I suspect that many of them have limited professional skills.  Someone who did seem to know what he was doing did write to me last year, but never replied to my last email.  I must pester him again!


Savile’s edition of Chrysostom

The text of the complete works of Chrysostom published by J.-P. Migne was a reprint of the Benedictine edition by Montfaucon of a century earlier.  Rather surprisingly, it does not contain all the material included in the 8-volume edition produced a century before that by Sir Henry Savile.  

I learn from Quasten’s Patrology 3 and also from the Clavis Patrum Graecorum 2 that some of the sermons of Severian of Gabala are only contained in Savile’s edition.

A kind reader has sent me PDF’s of Savile.  It’s rather daunting!  The lack of a Latin title is a clue; inside there is solely Greek.  There is an index at the end of volume 8, but it too is all in Greek.  In short, it is a rather tough proposition to find your way around! 

Fortunately the CPG gives page numbers for the sermons in question.

I’ve been working on transferring data and software to my new PC since Saturday, and I’m getting there.  But it is a wearisome business.  Windows 7 hasn’t attacked me yet, but give it time.

I’ve had another chunk of the Greek of Eusebius’ Quaestiones back from proof-reading.  I’ve also had a chunk of the Coptic back in English, although not in any useful format — the translator seems to have terrible trouble doing simple things with a computer, which is very, very wearing.  On a more positive note the translator of the Arabic bits is on course to complete those.

The translation with text of Origen’s Homilies on Ezechiel is progressing very well, and there is very little more to do.  The translator has worked very hard on this, and it shows.  It’s likely to be ready before the Eusebius, at current progress.  If it does appear first, I might send it out first, contrary to my original intention.


Interesting article on the preparation of the Sources Chretiennes’ Jerome commentaries

A note in LT-ANTIQ drew my attention here.  A PDF at the foot of the page not merely lists the manuscripts of some of the commentaries of St. Jerome on scripture but discusses how the editions are being prepared for maximum clarity, what font is used, what forms of quotation marks, etc.