Notes on Eusebius of Emesa

Ever since I found a sermon by Eusebius of Emesa and placed it online, I have been somewhat interested in this obscure figure.  He was a pupil of Eusebius of Caesarea, and has been called a semi-Arian, although he had no political interests and lived in the times of Constantius when such views were perhaps normal in some areas.  The sermon I found was translated by Solomon Caesar Malan, a Swiss prodigy who knew many languages, took a degree at Oxford, and could converse in the bazaars of the east in the 1830’s with anyone who met in any language.  He is mentioned in Tuckwell’s Reminiscences of Oxford.

The sermon was very interesting, and this leads me to wonder what else now remains of his work.  I could find no evidence of any translations into English.

In the Patrologia Graeca 86, there are two “orationes” (cols. 510-535), plus a slew of fragments from catenas (columns 535-562).  But I learn from Quasten that there is rather more under the name of Eusebius of Caesarea, in PG 24. 1047-1208, 14 sermons originally printed by Sirmond in 1643.  The CD I have lists the following titles (which don’t make 14!):

  • De fide adversus Sabellium (On the faith, against Sabellius, 2 books)
  • De resurrectione (on the resurrection, 2 books)
  • De incorporali et invisibili deo (on the incorporeal and invisible God)
  • De incorporali (on the incorporeal, 2 books)
  • De spiritali cogitatu hominis (on the spiritual thoughts of men)
  • De eo quod deus pater incorporalis est (on he who is the incorporeal God the Father) (?)
  • Another sermon of the same name
  • De eo quod ait Dominus (on he who is called Lord)
  • De operibus bonis et malis (on good and evil deeds)
  • De operibus bonis (on good deeds)

I don’t think any of that exactly thrills.  Theological noodling is not my bag, and the lack of work on these texts suggests that my instinctive reaction is not unusual.

There is also another 17 homilies, discovered in Latin in Ms. Troyes 523 and published by Buytaert in the 1950’s.  He appended Sirmond’s collection to the end of his publication.  There are also a bunch of these things in Armenian.

None of this exactly calls out for translation, tho, does it?

Eusebius once more

I’m supposed to be on holiday — indeed I must spend a few days NOT working on projects!  Perhaps later this week.

I’ve just emailed Les editions du Cerf about getting their approval for the manuscript of the Eusebius book.  This was a condition of them allowing me (on very generous terms) to use the Greek text of the Abridged Selection printed by Zamagni.

I’ve processed all the revisions to the Greek text of the fragments into  the PDF — which was truly horrible to do.  I would have got the editor to do it differently, had I realised what he was doing.  Oh well, that’s experience.

Now I have to go through the other issues in my file of corrections and deal with those.

I’ve also heard back from Carol Downer, the leader of the UCL Coptic Reading Group, who did the Coptic translation.  Apparently there will be some more corrections from there, although they sound minor to me and we might do them at the proof stage.

The next stage, after these corrections, is to explore printing physical copies and getting the translators to check them (and doing so myself).  You can only do so much on-screen.  I need to talk to Lightning Source, who are the print-on-demand people I was recommended to use. 

I also need to enter the book in the British Library “cataloguing in progress” system.  And … no small point … get a cover designed.  Wonder how to do that!

UPDATE: All the corrections I know about are now added as stickies to the PDF file.  There are quite a few, but it will probably take the typesetter less time to pop them in than it took me to add them to the file.  I am very impressed, tho, by Acrobat’s co-working facilities.  They are ideal for this.  Adam McCollum, who did the Syriac, has replied very quickly on some formatting issues; and I’ve checked a query about the Arabic text back with the original edition. 

I’ve now emailed the PDF of the whole book back across to Bob Buller, who will probably deal with it at the weekend.  It’s another definite step forward!

From my diary

Today is the day I go through all the corrections on the Greek fragments and process them into the PDF to send to Bob the typesetter.  It’s rather boring, frankly.  Worse yet, the editor has mingled text in unicode with characters in non-unicode Greek.  Every bit of it has to be converted to unicode, and the mixture makes this very hard.  Few conversion utilities will not throw if they are told the text is one thing and it is another.  The editor sometimes also indicates that he wants a footnote on the facing English text, but does not indicate where it should go.  It’s hard, being an editor…!

Fortunately it won’t be nearly so awkward for Bob, as I’m doing all those corrections. 

Letters of Isidore of Pelusium

A translation of the first 14 letters of Isidore of Pelusium came in this morning.  It’s generally looking good, although the people I use to verify this are on holiday!  But I’ve paid the sum agreed anyway — the chap has certainly worked on it seriously — and commissioned letters 15-25 for the same treatment.

The letters of Isidore do need some kind of running commentary on them, to tie the book into a readable whole.  How this might be done I don’t yet know.

I need to find some more translators and commission some more books for publication.  I wonder how IVP found their translators?  I’ll wander around at the patristics conference next week and see if I can make contact that way.

Eusebius update – whole book typeset!

Rejoice!  The whole Eusebius Gospel Problems and Solutions is now in typeset form, with page numbers etc!  This is a massive step forward, and all credit is due to Bob Buller who did the job, did it very quickly and efficiently, and turned a bunch of word files into something professional.

Of course it has to be proof-read and so forth, but suddenly we have a BOOK before us.  I feel mightly encouraged by that!

Postscript from the Coptic group.  Apparently something is wrong with biblical references in their section and will need to be re-read (which will happen very slowly, I suspect).   Curses, curses!  But at least we’re now amending the final version, which is most cheering!

UPDATE: I thought I’d just check the page count — 412 pages, plus xiv pages of intro.  Phew!  That is a MUCH bigger book than I expected.

Eusebius again

Bob Buller, who is typesetting Eusebius’ Gospel Problems and Solutions, has just sent over the typeset version of the Latin fragments and translation.  He tells me he’s starting in on the Syriac now.  After that, only the front matter — a few pages — remains!  At that point I’ll send in the collected corrections — not a vast pile — and then we’ll print some proof copies for the various translators to have their say on. 

The Arabic material that arrived earlier was all fine, according to Adam McCollum who translated it.  I’ve replied to Bob’s queries on the Latin myself.  The Coptic translator has yet to reply — the question is merely as to the placement of two quotation marks, tho.

Eusebius update

Bob Buller, who is heroically typesetting the manuscript of the Gospel Problems and Solutions of Eusebius, has sent over another chapter.  This time it’s the Arabic text and translation.  It looks very good, and the manuscript is probably now 70% done. 

The chapter containing Coptic fragments has been sent to the Coptic team for inspection and insertion of a couple of quotations.

I had not observed that the Scheherazade font used by the translator was not actually installed on my PC.  Since I don’t know Arabic, it looked fine to me!  But Bob has found some other font.  We’ll see if the author of that chapter is happy with it. 

At some point I need to send a copy of the manuscript to the Sources Chretiennes.  This was a condition of using their Greek text for the Abbreviated Selection / ecloge.   I also need to get a website up, with eCommerce facilities, and to get some fliers together.  And I know that the translator of the Greek and Latin wants to do a proof-read of the whole thing.  So … it’s all delays.

I had hoped to have the book out by now.  But I’ve not done the job before, and everything is new and unfamiliar.  I shall try not to let the job run on.

Cyril of Alexandria buys the government

The collection of letters of Cyril of Alexandria that has come down to us is really a dossier of materials surrounding the Nestorian controversy.  That unedifying story has many low points.

One that sticks in my mind is letter 96.  This consists of a list of bribes of courtiers in Constantinople.  I found a copy online today, and I thought I would share it.  The translation must be that of the Fathers of the Church series, and if so must be copyright to them. So don’t treat this as public domain: it isn’t mine to give you.  But I imagine a quotation of one letter should be within fair usage.

It is possible that the court was so corrupt that no-one could be heard unless “presents” were given.  The phrase “customary gifts” noted in the footnotes tends to suggest this.  All the same, it’s not nice reading.  Bribes to one official, to act as mediator with another official, all of it simply to do whatever business a major dignitary of the empire thought right to do.  Um.

LETTER 96

A catalogue of things dispatched from here to the following who are there, by my lord, your most holy brother Cyril. 1

To Paul the Prefect: four larger wool rugs, two moderate wool rugs, four place covers, four table cloths, six larger bila (rugs or curtains), six medium sized bila, six stool covers, twelve for doors, two larger caldrons, four ivory chairs, two ivory stools, four persoina (= pews?), two larger tables, two ostriches (= pieces of furniture?); and in order that he would help us in the cause about those matters which were written to him: fifty pounds of gold. 2

(2) And to his domestic, one wool rug, two rugs, four bila, two stool covers, and one hundred gold coins.

(3) To Marcella, the chambermaid, the same as was dispatched to him, and that she would persuade Augusta 3 by asking her: fifty pounds of gold.

(4) To Droseria, the chambermaid, the same as was dispatched to Marcella, and that she would help her as was written to her: fifty pounds of gold.

(5) To the prefect Chryseros, that he would cease to oppose us, we were forced to dispatch double amounts: six larger wool rugs, four moderate rugs, four larger rugs, eight place covers, six table cloths, six large bila rugs, six medium sized bila, six stool covers, twelve for chairs, four larger caldrons, four ivory chairs, four ivory stools, six persoina, four larger tables, six ostriches; and if he shall have acted in accordance with what were written to him by the most magnificent Aristolaus with the lord Claudianus intervening as mediator: two hundred pounds of gold.

(6) And to Solomon, his domestic, two larger wool rugs, four place covers, four table cloths, four bila, four stool covers, six covers for chairs, six caldrons, two ivory chairs, two ostriches; and just as was written to lord Claudianus, so he may use persuasion to forward the proposal: fifty pounds of gold.

(7) To lady Heleniana, who is [the wife] of the prefect of the praetorian guard, the same in all things which were dispatched to Chryseros, so also to her; and in order that the prefect, persuaded by her, would help us: one hundred pounds of gold. As to her assessor, Florentinus, just as the things sent to Solomon, equally the same also to him and fifty pounds of gold.

(8) And to the other chamberlains customary suppliant gifts 4 have been dispatched.

To Romanus the chamberlain: four larger wool rugs, four place covers, four bila, four stool covers, six covers for chairs, two caldrons, two ivory chairs; and so that he would aid in our cause: thirty pounds of gold.

(9) To Domninus the chamberlain: four larger wool rugs, four larger rugs, four medium sized bila, four table covers, four medium sized bila, six stool covers, six covers for chairs, two larger caldrons, two ivory chairs, two ivory stools, four ostriches; and so that he may help us according to those things which were written to lord Claudianus: fifty pounds of gold.

(10) To Scholasticius, the chamberlain, the same in all things as those which were dispatched to Chryseros: and one hundred pounds of gold. And to Theodore, his domestic according to the promises of lord Claudianus, if he should persuade Scholasticius that he desist from friendships with our adversaries: fifty pounds of gold. We have directed also gifts4 to him which ought to persuade him that he should think in our favor: two wool rugs, two place covers, four table cloths, four rugs, four stools, six stool covers for chairs, two caldrons, two ostriches.

(11) To the most magnificent Artaba the same in all things as those which were dispatched to Scholasticius both in kinds: and that he would help us as was written to him: one hundred pounds of gold.

(12) To Magister, the same in all things as were dispatched to Artaba, in the same kinds: and one hundred pounds of gold. And to his domestic equally in all things as those dispatched to Rufinus.

(13) And to the quaestor, the same as those things which were destined for Magister: and one hundred pounds of gold. And to his domestic Ablalius equally in all things as Eustathius.

(14) A letter was written by your brother to the most reverend clerics so that all these things be dispatched, if anything was done out of devotion to my holy lord and should happen to be accomplished, and that is what is necessary, with the good will and advice of the lord Philip and the lord Claudianus.

1  For the critical text of this letter see Schwartz, ACO 1.4 pp. 224-225. Geerard numbers this letter 5396 in CPG.
2  The libra was the Roman pound of 12 ounces.
3  Pulcheria, elder sister of Theodosius II. She received the title Augusta when she became regent in 414.
4  The word eulogiae, here translated “gifts,” appears to be a diplomatic phrase actually meaning. “bribes.” It is difficult to pass judgment on this matter. The court at Constantinople evidently was corrupt. One very revealing item is found on p. 224, line 28: eulogiae consuetudinariae supplices, “customary suppliant gifts.” If this was customary, the action of Cyril was not so unusual. How this treasure was transported to the capital is an unanswered problem. The date of this catalogue was during the time of the council or soon after it. Wickham, Select Letters, 66, note 8, translates persoina as possibly “pews” or “benches,” and suggests that the ostriches must be pieces of furniture or of upholstery. See P. Batiffol, “Les présents de Saint Cyrille à la cour de Constantinople,” Bulletin d’ancienne littérature et d’archéologie chrétienne, 1 ( 1911), 247-264 (= Etudes de Liturgie et d’Archéologie Chrétienne, Paris, 1919).

The chronicler of Zuqnin continues…

The next passage of the anonymous 9th century Syriac chronicle is as follows.  After the widespread flooding, which of course polluted the water supply, the inevitable plague struck.  This is happening towards the end of the Ummayad caliphate, in the early 700’s.

It is interesting to note that, while the Arabs and Jews buried their dead in “innumerable” pits, both were clearly a very small minority.  The population of Syria was mainly Christian, almost a century after the Moslem conquest. 

Of the great plague which happened in that time.

Here the prophet Jeremiah comes to  help us, he who knows better than anyone lamenting over the miseries by which we are surrounded on all sides: “Who will give water to my head, and to my eyes a fountain of tears? and I shall weep day and night for the dead of the daughter of my people.” And again: “On the mountains I abandon myself to tears and lamentations, and in the desert to complaints because they are desolate and there is nobody there.  Let our eyes shed tears, let our eyelids flow with water. Therefore, listen, women, to the word of the Lord; let your ears capture the speech of his mouth, teach your daughters lamentations, and let each learn the plaintive chant of his neighbour; because death is come through our windows, it came into our homes to exterminate children in the streets and young men in public places. The bodies of men shall fall like manure upon the face of the earth, like the grass behind the mower, and there is no one who collects them!”

[36] Let him come now [the Prophet], and let him weep about, not one people, nor only the city of Jerusalem, but over all nations and many cities, that the plague has made like a press, trampling and crushing them underfoot and plucking without mercy their inhabitants like beautiful grapes; — over the whole earth, because the punishment, like the reaper in the middle of the ripe corn on foot, has threatened and cut off all ages, all conditions, all ranks, without distinction of persons;  — over decaying and mangled corpses [which lie] in the streets of the whole world: their fluids flow like water, and there is nobody to bury them; — over houses, large and small, beautiful and pleasant, which have suddenly become the graves of their inhabitants, in which suddenly servants fell with their masters, and no-one escaped to drag the corpses out of the interior; — over the roads, which are desolate; — over many villages, whose inhabitants have all perished at once; — over the palace where each trembles at the other; — over the nuptial chambers decorated for brides, who have there died suddenly; — over young virgins kept in the women’s quarters, awaiting the celebration of their wedding and who suddenly have been carried to the grave; — over many similar things that surpass speech and the narratives of all the rhetoricians; — over these things, I say, the prophet would have reason to weep and say: “Woe is me!” not because of “the defilement of the daughter of my people,” but because of the ruin of all the inhabited earth, and the world that the plague has completely destroyed because of its sins. It would be right to use the prophetic words of his colleagues: “Let him come and tell the rest of those who survived: Weep, mourn, you ministers of the altar; enter, spend the night in the hair shirt, ministers of my God,” not “because the offering has been removed [37] from the house of God,” but because of men, who have been cut off from the world; and again: “Let the earth live in mourning, let all its inhabitants lament. Call the mourners and let the chanters of lamentations all come to celebrate together, not over an only son,” nor a single corpse, but over peoples and kingdoms. “By the tearing the earth will be torn, by the breaking the earth will be broken, by the shaking the earth will be shaken, by the trembling the earth will tremble. It will be delivered to the fire like a terebinth lined with leaves, like an oak tree fallen from its base.”

All these things have been fulfilled in the present time: great disturbances and violent earthquakes; armies, wars, the enmities of the Arabs between themselves over power; the famine which so raged that in the southern and eastern region the entire population arose and spread themselves all over the countries of the north and west; discord with every misery.

“I will send after them,” says the prophet, “the sword and captivity, famine and plague too.”

All these things have happened today without exception. Here is the sword of the Arabs [turned] against themselves; here are depredations so that it was impossible to go out without being pillaged and robbed of one’s property; here is famine which rages within and without. If someone enters his house, there he finds famine and pestilence, if he goes outside, the sword and captivity run to meet him. On all sides there is nothing but cruel oppression and terrible pain, suffering and disturbance.

“They are drunk, but not on wine, and they stumble, but not from spirits.”

Men began to wander and to travel from city to city and place to place; they stumbled as if they were drunk; they asked for bread and there was none, just as the prophet said.

First, a large number of the heads of families began to sicken and die from a corruption of the blood and from ulcers. Things went thus [38] during the whole winter. They could not be buried. Men were lying in the streets, the porticos, towers, temples, in every home, tortured by the violence of the disease and the great strictness of the famine, so that the number of those who perished from starvation was greater than that of those who died from disease.  It was especially those who had eaten bread until they were full who were seized by the disease. When the days became warmer, tumours appeared on the sick, who began to fall dead in public places, like manure in the face of the earth, and there was no one to bury them!

The plague began to rage among the poor, who were abandoned in the streets. They buried them with honour, singing hymns, and they were buried properly, and when there were no more poor, mortality raged with such violence against the lords of the villages and the towns that, when the priests wanted to do a funeral, there were gathered in the morning at the same place fifty to seventy to eighty or a hundred coffins, in each of which there were two or three dead, or even four children. And so all day, without truce or rest, the corpses of men were buried.

The Arabs covered the earth with pits, and the Jews likewise. The tombs of the Christians were so full that they themselves were forced to dig holes in the earth. In a single day, over five hundred coffins came out by a single door. Throughout the day the doors were only used for the goings and comings of those who carried the corpses: they went out, deposited them, and returned to take others.

So, except for a few, there was no {burial} service, because of the swiftness of death, the small number [39] of priests and the innumerable multitude of buryings. In the morning, the priests prescribed that anyone who had a deceased should come to the nearest crossroads and the whole region or district would assemble in this place. The priests divided themselves up in the morning to go in all directions to perform the office of the dead and to put them in the ground in groups. It happened that one group was over a hundred coffins, in which there were more than two hundred or two hundred and fifty dead, because they were piled next to each other without pause throughout the day. Here there was no distinction between servant and master, between serving-girl and mistress, between the hired man and the hirer, but one storm of destruction and fury was prepared for them all: servants and masters were equally struck down without distinction of persons; the man of the people and the leaders fell, and were groaning next to one another.

Let everyone admire the divine decree and be filled with astonishment and stupour in presence of these judgments of God, unfathomable, incomprehensible, incommensurable for men. Certainly “a deep abyss is the judgments of the Lord!”

The plague spread its devastating hand over those who hold power, who enjoy opulence, or who revel in grandeur. The houses of many of them were left without an heir, because there remained in them neither servant nor master. Men suddenly abandoned to their companions their possessions, their riches, their crops, even their beautiful homes. How splendid and opulent mansions, how many families perished because there did not remain a single heir!

The human language is incapable of expressing the prodigious disasters [40] that occurred in the country which stretches from the Euphrates to the west, as well as in the other cities of Palestine, in the North and the South, as far as the Red Sea as well as in the rest of Cilicia, Lycaonia, Asia [Minor], Bithynia, Lysynie [Lydia?] Galatia, even in Cappadocia: because the oppression of this cruel suffering was felt throughout the world. As the rain descends upon the whole earth, or as the sun’s rays are spread equally in all places, the plague spread equally over the whole world. However it was prevalent more in the countries previously designated. In these regions, towns and numerous villages became suddenly deserted, and no-one stayed there or passed that way. They were filled with rotting dead bodies, lying on the ground like dung upon the face of the earth, with no one to bury them: because not one of their inhabitants remained; so that men lay in the middle of them, swollen, full of pus, and rotting. The houses were opened as tombs and their owners putrefied in the middle of them. Their furniture, their gold, their money, their possessions were scattered in the streets and there was nobody to collect them. Gold and silver were despised, and riches were abandoned everywhere and found no master. Old men and old women, adorned with white hair, who had hoped to be buried with honour by their heirs, lay open-mouthed in the streets, in houses, in public places, dying and putrefying. Pretty virgins, beautiful young girls who were waiting for their happy nuptials and the adornment of precious clothing were found lying and decomposing, and became an object of pity for those who saw them. Would to God that this was happening in the tombs! But it is in the houses in the streets [41] that charming and cheerful young people have become livid, deceased, and that their pus was mingled with that of their parents.

That is what happened in these countries.

From my diary

A massive and unexpected bill arrived today — nearly $400 — from the translator of the Greek for comparing the Greek text of the fragments of Eusebius back against the printed pages of Mai etc.  Ouch!  I had not realised that so large a bill was pending; I thought the comparison would be relatively quick. 

It’s a reminder to me to get quotes in advance, rather than presuming bits of work will be relatively short.  That unfortunately adds almost 10% to the cost of  the project, which is bad news indeed.  It’s one of those tasks which is worth doing, in an absolute sense; but probably will never justify itself by the extra number of copies sold. 

Thankfully I am back earning money again, so I can afford it – it would have been very serious otherwise! 

The changes will be rolled up and send as one to the typesetter at some subsequent point.  There’s a few, but nothing really significant, or that would take all that long to apply, if I put them on the PDF pages as stickys.