Oxford Patristics Conference – Thursday (Contd)

I’ve just attended a truly fascinating paper “Marginalizing Paul of Samosata: scholia and Origenism in the exemplar of codex von der Goltz“, given by Eric Scherbenske.

The codex is a biblical ms., Aland number 1739, Ms. 184 B64 of the Lavra monastery on Mt. Athos.  This contains extensive scholia, which clearly come from the scriptorium of Caesarea in the 4-5th century, and the text itself was compared with the text in the works of Origen, as a marginal note states.

Dr Scherbenske gave out a handout containing 6 scholia from these, all of them of the greatest interest.  One, indeed, referred to books 6 and 7 of Eusebius’ lost work against Porphyry, indicating that he used a particular variant in his argument.  I must ask Dr. S. what this was.  Verbally he also mentioned that another scholion refers to material written by Eusebius in his own hand!

I’ve sneaked out.  It seems there is no Wifi in the examination schools, which is rather daft.  But I shall find something to do while I am sat there at the book display!  Now to go off to the Bodleian and renew that Bod. card!

Oxford Patristics Conference – Thursday (Contd)

Now looking at the programme.  There are a number of sessions today that I would like to attend.  None of the plenary lectures or workshops today appeal.  Not that this worries me — one conference member whom I met yesterday wisely said that most papers appeal to a narrow group of people within the patristics firmament.  It’s inevitable.

Among the short communications the following caught my eye:

9:00 Rm6 – Marginalizing Paul of Samosata: scholia and Origenism in the exemplar of codex von der Goltz
12:00 Rm6 – Origenism in 5th century upper Egypt: Shenoute of Atripe and the Nag Hammadi codices.
12:00 Rm1 – Phrygian roots of the Montanist movement
12:20 Rm1 – Exiled to Pepouza: consorting unwillingly with heretical Montanists, by William Tabbernee.

2:20 Rm12 – Chrysostom in Syriac dress
2:40 Rm12 – The Homilies on King Uzziah by John Chrysostom in Syriac translation.
3:00 Rm12 – Preaching as the audience heard it: unedited transcripts of patristic homilies

3:20 Rm15 – Some manuscript witnesses of Pelagius Ad Demetriadem and what they reveal about the manuscript tradition of the text.

The blue handbook of events is curiously organised, but this seems to be the stuff for Thursday.  I have only clash there, at 12, but will probably go to the Origenism paper.

There’s a gap between the end of the first paper (9-9:20) and the 12 noon papers.  I shall go up to the Bodleian and try to renew my Bod. card.

10:20-11:20 I will be in the marquee at the Chieftain Publishing stand, hoping to sell copies of the Eusebius book (only £24 at the conference).  I wonder if they have wi-fi?  If so, I could sit there and update this blog as I wait!  Must ask.

Breakfast here in Queen’s is 7:45-8:45 sharp.  I suppose it means that no-one gets sleep, so they may as well get up and eat whatever is offered.  My tum is still sore, so I shall pass. 

Oxford Patristics Conference – Thursday

It’s 7:38 and sadly my fears about the rooms here in the Queen’s college Annex have been realised.  I’ve had virtually no sleep at all because of the noise.  The conference organisers should never have put people in here – only those who are heavy sleepers could have any chance of repose.  But it’s like everything else — an air of negligence pervades everything.

I may go home later today.  If I can’t sleep, I’m hardly going to be able to enjoy the conference very much.   

Oxford Patristics Conference – Wednesday (Contd 2)

I’ve just got back from a very pleasant gathering at the Head of the River, where the food was as excellent as ever, and beautifully served.  One of us chose Italian, however, only to discover that they had run out of parmesan cheese — a curious failure, considering that a Tesco Express stood just down the street.

Glen Thompson and wife arrived, and Andrew Maguire and I made up the table — David Michelson did not appear.  But we exchanged anecdotes of what our website traffic was like, and how we came to start our sites, and so forth.  A pleasanter way to spend an evening is hard to imagine.  Likewise we swapped anecdotes of where we were staying and so forth.  David had chosen to stay at the Eastgate hotel, where parking was available. 

The most interesting statement came towards the end, when Glen listed the people whom he had tried to contact, who maintained websites of Early Christian material.   The CCEL site, for instance, was largely run by the computer department now, without any real input from anyone academically inclined.  Two or three others were mentioned who were unable to attend for various reasons.  And yet … are there really only eight or nine of us in this game? 

Afterwards David, showing more hardihood than I, went off to catch the tail end of an 8:30pm session.  I walked up Cornmarket to the Martyrs Memorial, where four years ago there was a Borders bookshop that was open late, next to a small Sainsburys.  The latter was still there; but oh! how changed.  It was nearly deserted, and a large area of the floor was unused.  The explanation was two doors down, in a thriving new Tesco Metro.  The bookshop had vanished with it. 

I bought some bottled water in the Sainsburys, and came back to my room.  The sound of heavy diesel engines from the bus stop still thunders in the night, in a way that the motor car never did.  It’s quite a warm, humid evening here.

Wish me luck on getting some sleep! 

Oxford Patristics Conference – Wednesday (contd)

Rather more cheery than I was earlier.  A Dutch chap came to the stall and showed signs of wanting to buy a copy of the Eusebius book, which is nice, particularly since I haven’t been at the stall that much.  I’ll be there between 10:20 and 11:20 tomorrow, tho, because I left a note saying that I would.

Clayton Coombs, who gave a paper on Eusebius ad Marinum — which is contained in my book — is in the same college annex that I am, and very kindly offered to take me out to dinner this evening.  But I’m actually off to the Head of the River to meet Glen Thompson of www.fourthcentury.com, Andrew Maguire of www.earlychurchtexts.com and David Michelson of www.syriac.ua.edu.  How we will recognise each other I know not, but I shall be wearing my name tag, carrying the conference bag, and wearing a bright orange tie, so I shall be visible enough.  David has an interesting project to do a website for Syriac literature, on which he delivered a paper this morning — while I was on the road, drat him — and since I created my own Syriac site, I hope to talk about his.

I’ve spent the afternoon first in recovering from the journey and the stress of the check-in arrangements.  After that, I went over to the conference, and started wandering around the bookstalls and talking to whoever I met.  At the Gorgias press stall I met George Kiraz himself, who was sat there looking bored but wisely remarked that you can either mind the stall or else attend the sessions, but doing both is impossible and attempting it is stressful.  There was a copy of his publication of Michael the Syrian’s Chronicle there, which is actually a photo-facsimile of the manuscript.  For those who have seen the Chabot edition of the same work, the original is infinitely more readable than the horrible Syriac text of the Chabot edition. 

At the Gorgias stall I met Bob Kitchen, who has been translating the Book of Steps and making a new translation of the Discourses of Philoxenus.  I asked him what he thought of the old Budge translation, and he explained that, rather than be influenced by it, he’d not read it while he was working on his own version.  The new translation has just been sent in to Cistercian Press, I gather.

At other stalls I met some other interesting people — you know who you are, if you’re reading this! — and we talked about their projects and, of course, mine.  It was actually very pleasant to find people who (mostly) knew my work, and whose work was likewise known to me.

While I was doing this, people started carrying crates through the hall, the signal for throwing out time.  It was 4:30, which seemed early.  I popped in to check if there was any sign of interest in the book — none — and then headed up to the Bodleian, with a view to renewing my Bod. card.  But I found that admissions closed at 4:30, so headed back here.

Time to crash, to relax a bit, and prepare for the evening ahead.  It’s clouded over here, and there is a grey sky and a wind blowing through the streets, which — thankfully — is preventing my room from becoming too hot.

There’s a bunch of promotional material from the welcome pack that I have yet to examine, although someone told me that my leaflet made quite an impact when you went through it.  Still somewhat sore at having to fight to get a complete welcome pack, tho.

Another interesting snippet came from another conference attendee — they’d come over from Holland this morning, and were staying at the Randolph Hotel.  That has always had the reputation of being the best hotel in town, indeed 5* in standard, and I must investigate.  Maybe I should try it.  But then, I don’t know what it cost!  I booked into Queens because I wanted to go to meals with other conference attendees, but now that I find we get breakfast only, the logic in that has mostly evapourated.

There’s a session tomorrow evening at Wycliffe Hall, about Evangelicals and the Fathers.  I’d quite like to go — but I’m not sure whether my feet will carry me that far!

Oxford Patristics Conference – Wednesday

This morning I drove to Oxford, and parked at a house in the suburbs using www.parkatmyhouse.com.  That went well — there was someone there and they even gave me a lift into Oxford.  So far, so good.  The sun is shining but it is not incredibly hot, and the various accidents on the M25 this morning — three! — did not cause me any delays.  I leave at 9:30 and arrive around lunchtime, in fact.

I was dropped off in the High Street.  The next step was to locate Queens College.  No sign outside, and a locked-looking door up a set of steps!  Lucky for me that I had a good idea where it was!  The stone buildings are magnificent, but within the arrangements are rather amateurish.

I find that the porter is friendly enough, but for some reason all visitor information has to be given verbally!  Where to go, and how to get there, for instance.  Also I discover that there is only breakfast on offer — which rather defeats the purpose of my booking a room here.

But off I go to the Queens Annex, room 46, to discover that I have a room which is (a) over the gate (b) on the stair, (c) facing an area of Queens Lane where the local loungers hang around and talk, a few feet from my window and worst of all (d) in direct line of sight, and a few feet, from a bus stop.  Oxford is overrun with buses, and every few seconds the roar of a diesel engine interrupts my thought.  I did attempt to change rooms, but there was no other to be had.  The poor girl who looks after the conference bookings is even worse off than I am, in a room where the windows have to be closed because of the buses, and the heat is intense.  At least my room does not get the sun, or so it seems.  For it is very hot in Oxford today. 

The conference organisation itself is rather shambolic.  I get a welcome pack, but later I discover that it is missing both the synoptic timetable and the blue book listing the conference events.  I have quite a fight with the woman on the desk to get a copy, too.  I wonder what else I am missing.  Later I discover that it is also missing the shoulder strap. 

I’ve been told that I can set up on tables under the posters in the marquee.  But there is no table, and no chair next to it.  Fortunately these are easy to obtain, and I set up the inspection copies, and lug the box of 20 copies across there as well.  Thank heavens that I did not order 40! 

Next step is to decide when I will be there to man the desk.  The sessions are mostly in the morning, and the main morning break is 10:20-11:20 (as I discover, with some difficulty).  I leave a note there indicating that I will be there at that time.  After all, I would like to go to the sessions too!

I go back to the college and ask about internet access.  As ever, they give verbal instructions (which don’t work) but they do have cables for sale at £5 each — well done, whoever thought of that! — which can just plug into the wall and work.  And this DOES work.  As you can tell.

Rather frazzled after that, but relieved to find my room may be noisy, but it is cool.  Still not entirely recovered from the illness earlier in the week, so I shall now lie down and attempt to work out what, if anything, I need to do this afternoon.

Oxford Patristics Conference: I shall be late!

I’ve gone down with a virus.  Here I am, surrounded by all the stuff necessary to go, and it’s a beautiful morning.  But I spent all of yesterday in bed, unable to move, and awoke with a temperature/headache again this morning.  Fortunately rather better today, but rather frustrated.

Maybe I shall be fit tomorrow, or maybe Wednesday.

The best laid plans of mice and men … 

Of course, if I could just drive to the college, park outside, and get a porter to help with my bags, then it would be much easier to take a chance on it and just go.  But with the “war on the private motorist” in Oxford, it’s quite another thing for someone not entirely well to drive there, park outside the centre, struggle with luggage, try to get a taxi to the college, etc etc.  

UPDATE: Feeling very bored.  There is a limit to the number of novels I can read, and I think I exceeded that yesterday.

Any more bloggers at the Oxford Patristics Conference next week?

A group of bloggers and people who make stuff available online will be gathering for a drink one evening at the Oxford Patristics Conference.  If this is you, please drop me a note and I’ll pass on the details.

More papers of interest to be presented at the Oxford Patristics Conference

I’ve only scratched the surface of the papers being offered, but just looking down the list of tags on the conference blog is a treat!

Eleni Pachoumi is giving a paper on the invocation of “Christos” in a magical text:

This paper examines the spell “releasing from bonds” (XIII.288-95), in which Chrestos is invoked “in times of violence”. It is a short spell contained within the thirteenth magical handbook of the Papyri Graecae Magicae corpus originated to Greco-Roman Egypt and dated from the third to the fourth century. Questions to be addressed are: How is Chrestos described and what kind of influences does this depiction imply? Does the orthographical spelling of Chrestos with “?”, or “?” have a particular significance, or it is a matter of indifference? How is the invocation to Chrestos appropriated to magic? Is it related to the invocations of “biaiothanatoi” in magic? Finally, can we draw any general conclusions about the composer, or compiler of the spell and the possible users? I shall also pay special attention to issues of religious syncretism from Judaism, Christianity, Greek and Egyptian religion, and Gnostisism. 

Is this Jesus?  The magical texts invoke all sorts of people as power-sources.

Cyril Hoverun has a paper which will involve Stephen of Alexandria, the 7th century philosopher.  I suspect it will be too much about neo-platonism for me, but there’s no denying the interest of the subject.

Charles Hill will discuss whether Irenaeus treated the Shepherd of Hermas as scripture.

There’s a lot on Clement of Alexandria.  Java Platova has a paper which I really would like to hear, except … that it’s in German!  And my German is not up to listening to it.  It’s on the fragments of Clement in Greek and Arabic catenas.

In meinem Referat gebe ich aktuelle Übersicht der in den griechischen und arabischen Katenen erhalten gebliebenen Bruchstücke des Clemens und nehme Stellung zur Frage der Zugehörigkeit dieser Bruchstücke zur Clemens’ verlorenen Schrift Hypotyposeis. Meine Aufmerksamkeit wird vor allem auf diejenigen Fragmente gerichtet werden, die in die Stählins Edition nicht eingesetzt worden sind. 

I.e. (my translation):

In my paper I shall review the fragments of Clement currently known from Greek and Arabic catenas, and take a position on the question of the supposed fragments of Clement’s lost Hypotyposeis.  My attention will be focused mainly on those fragments not included in Stählin’s edition. 

Such a paper must be full of interest to me, as someone interested in catenas in general, and their transmission into Arabic.  Alas, that the paper was not given in a language that will be widely understood at the conference!

Grigory Kessel is a Syriacist.  He’s found new manuscripts in eastern libraries of the Second Part of Isaac of Niniveh.  The “First Part” is one of the most widely known mystical texts, but no-one knew that Isaac had written a sequel until very recently.  This paper will discuss his search and findings.  I’ll go to this, if at all possible.

Martin Wallraff, whom I think of as a chronographer, has a most interesting paper: The canon tables of the Psalms – an unknown work of Eusebius of Caesarea.

Eusebius’ Canon Tables are well known. Lavishly decorated, they can be found in many medieval gospel books. Their purpose is to help finding parallels in the four gospels. However, it is less known that Eusebius also drew up a system of “canon tables” for the psalms. This system is much less sophisticated, but it may be an important pre-stage of the famous gospel synopsis. It is significant both for the early history of illuminated Christian books and for the history of exegesis.

Got to hear that one!

I gather that there is a waiting list for places at the conference, where 850 delegates are already attending.  I can see why.  Today I checked my accomodation was booked (at Queens College) — it was.  I also asked whether I could park there — apparently not.  This may make it difficult for me to bring much stock of the Eusebius book to the conference, it must be said. 

Oxford Patristics Conference blog – abstracts online

The Oxford Patristics Conference is now less than a month away, although it seems a lot more to me, snowed as I am in work. 

Quite by accident, I learn this evening that the abstracts have been posted online as a blog by Markus Vinzent.

The Eusebius papers to be offered are here.  At least two of the papers caught my eye: Cordula Brandt on Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms, Satoshi Toda on Eusebius Syriaca — a very interesting subject.  Clayton Coombs is doing something on Eusebius’ use of the optative in the Ad Marinum (Gospel Problems and Solutions), which might be a touch technical for me.  Scott Manor is attributing a quotation from Porphyry to the same work.

None of the Tertullian papers seem especially exciting to me.

Erica Hunter is doing something on the discoveries of manuscripts at Turfan, which I shall definitely go  to.

Some of the Chrysostom papers look rather interesting too.

I need to start planning my trip, I see. 

UPDATE: Scott Manor’s paper is actually on Proclus the Montanist, it turns out — the wrong abstract was posted at the conference blog.