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.


What’s in that “Eusebius book” I’m commissioning?

I’ve been reminded that the Eusebius project has been running so long that many people may not recall what it contains.

Eusebius wrote a work on Gospel Problems and their Solutions.  This covered disagreements at the start of the gospels, and at the ends.  The work is lost, but a substantial selection in abbreviated form was discovered by Angelo Mai in the 1820’s and chunks quoted verbatim appear everywhere in Greek medieval gospel commentaries.  In addition there are bits of it in Latin, Syriac, Arabic and Coptic translation.  No critical edition of all this has ever appeared, nor any translation into English.  A critical text and French translation of the Abbreviated Selection (ecloge in epitome) did appear last year from Claudio Zamagni, who is attacking the problem.

The book contains an English translation of all these, with minimal notes.  It won’t contain a commentary — a huge task for what is already a lengthy book — but it will contain the original text, facing the translation.  This will be reprinted from wherever the best text is, and will include the Sources Chretiennes text (but not notes) from the recent edition by Claudio Zamagni.

The idea is to make this largely forgotten work as widely available as possible.  So I — or rather my company — shall sell printed copies initially, especially to libraries.  Once that drops off, the translation (but obviously not the text, because I don’t own all of it) will be made available online, perhaps under some open source license.  The earnings from the sales will make it possible for me to commission another translation of some untranslated text.


Eusebius book again

The Eusebius book is still coming along.

The ISBN agency have been sending me bumpf about customers ordering copies via themselves, as a free service, which is odd since I never asked them to.  I need to read all their tosh first and see what it all amounts to.   I also need to get a company website set up for “Chieftain Publishing”, which I will get done professionally, and have some ideas about.  And someone has to design the book cover.  I’m not sure what considerations apply for the latter.

I have a digest of changes — fairly short so far — to apply in proofing.  My thinking on proofing — I’m open to suggestions! — is that when we have the whole book setup, I will send the PDF to one of the online printing houses and produce a copy for each of the proofers, which we can go through in perfect bound form — a dummy, effectively.  I don’t know about most people, but I don’t work that effectively on-screen at this sort of thing.  I’m not quite sure that the fragments will look right with Greek with no footnotes and English the way it is, and some redistribution may be necessary. 

I also need to see how the book appears in the ISBN catalogue.  I hope they got it right!.  The British Library CIP record needs to  know the number of pages, so I can’t do that yet.  I just realised that sections 01-04 are 254 pages all by themselves <wince>.

The hardback is registered to be £50 (although I could change that), and I was thinking of a paperback at £30; and perhaps a “popular paperback containing maybe only the Abbreviated Selection in translation, perhaps with a more paraphrased translation to sell through Catholic bookshops or something with a rather more popular-style cover and contents.  But the important thing is the first two.

In the end, it will go online (minus whatever belongs to other people, such as the Greek text).  But let’s see how many printed copies we can sell first.  The idea of the project, of course, is that if we can recover most of the cost of commissioning the whole thing, then I can send the money around again and commission some more.  And the printed text serves a useful purpose, making the book available to the academic community as well as the general reader.


Would you like to buy some volumes of the Patrologia Graeca?

We all know — or should know — about the massive 19th century 160 volume collection of Greek patristic texts.  These come with Latin translations.  The whole enterprise was really just reprinting and collecting earlier editions, but J.-P. Migne, who masterminded it, did such a service to the world that his collection has been a standard reference ever since.

I’ve always wondered whether people who know Greek take the volumes to bed with them and browse.  After all, how better to improve your Greek than constant reading?  But I have never heard of anyone doing this, probably because access to the physical volumes is hard.  The printing is also fairly rubbish.  Most people probably use Google Books PDF’s (see the links on the right).

Today I received an email from a Greek bunch who are reprinting the lot.  Their English is not great, but they’re offering volumes for 22 euros each, I think.  I believe they have added supplements of their own.

5. Patision Str. 104 31 Athens. Greece
Tel. and Fax: 0030 2105243400 tel. 0030 2105234439
Founder – Director: Rev. John Diotis theologian

You can also visit our web site:

I wish them well with this enterprise.  The cost per volume is not a lot more than most reprints of material on Google books.


Eusebius update

This evening has mostly been spent with the PDF’s which contain proof copies of the book.  No more has been typeset — we’re still with just the ecloge plus the Greek fragments of the Ad Stephanum.  But layout tweaks and minor changes abound.

One interesting issue of consistency has arisen.  For the ecloge we are simply reprinting the Sources Chretiennes text, and noting changes in the footnotes to the translation.  But for the fragments it looks as if we incorporated some of the translator’s suggestions, rather than just reprinting Mai / Migne.  Obviously we can do one, or the other, but we should decide!

So it looks as if we will go with the latter — contractually we can’t mess with the SC text — and the translator will be revising the text accordingly.

This raises the interesting issue of how to report changes.  I have found Adobe Acrobat “stickys” — postit-like notes you can add on the PDF — a very effective way to do this.  But it may mean that I have to purchase a number of licenses! 

The translator also has started to write to the typesetter directly.  I’ve had to step in and ask him not to.  Obviously with three people involved, unless all changes come through me we will quickly end up in chaos!  I hope he won’t be upset!

Next week I have to go back to work, so my ability to do a lot of this may be attentuated.  But the typesetter has been doing a super job, and at last the book is coming together.


Eusebius update

Good news and bad news.  The good news is that the Bob the typesetter has done all of the ecloge — the abbreviated selection from the full work published by Angelo Mai — and the fragments of the “To Stephanus”.  This is great progress, and looks good.  He’s raised some interesting issues along the way.

The less good news is that it turns out that, while getting the Greek typed up, I managed to forget to include four of the fragments!  Eek!  Thankfully Tom who typed a lot of these is willing to help out again, and save  the day.

I need to spend some more time with the stuff the ISBN agency sent me, but no time today or probably tomorrow.

Another issue is the cover.  I haven’t really thought about this yet, but it needs to be designed.  Also I need to get some testimonials from scholars in the field for the back cover (and probably pay for them).  Finally I need to get a website up to sell the things.  Much still to do, still to do.


A note from the Chronicle of Zuqnin

I’m translating the next chunk of the Chronicle of Zuqnin, and was amused by the French of one passage:

At the same time Edessa was also flooded. There was in fact a great and violent flooding in the river, which crosses the city and called the Daishan.  The waters came in abundance into the city, so that the storm drains in the eastern wall of the city were blocked. The waters did not manage to knock down the wall and flooded back, rising in an extraordinary way, they spread through the streets of the city and destroyed all the shops.

Chabot’s French renders “shops” as “boutiques” — the flood destroyed all the boutiques in Edessa.  Very Carnaby Street, hmm?


Gregory of Nyssa fails to adapt to then contemporary attitudes on slavery

Look at who is linking to you, and you can find some interesting things!  One was this post, and of course I shall have to read this blog some more!

Another of these is an extract from Gregory of Nyssa’s Homilies on Ecclesiastes here (over-paragraphing by me).  This is from Homily 4, on Ecclesiastes 2:7.

‘I got me slave-girls and slaves.’ For what price, tell me? What did you find in existence worth as much as this human nature? What price did you put on rationality? How many obols did you reckon the equivalent of the likeness of God? How many staters did you get for selling that being shaped by God?

God said, Let us make man in our own image and likeness. If he is in the likeness of God, and rules the whole earth, and has been granted authority over everything on earth from God, who is his buyer, tell me? Who is his seller?

To God alone belongs this power; or, rather, not even to God himself. For his gracious gifts, it says, are irrevocable. God would not therefore reduce the human race to slavery, since he himself, when we had been enslaved to sin, spontaneously recalled us to freedom.

But if God does not enslave what is free, who is he that sets his own power above God’s?

This from St. Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on Ecclesiastes; Hall and Moriarty, trs., de Gruyter (New York, 1993) p. 74.

It is a pity that only the page reference to the translation is quoted, not the text reference with homily, chapter, etc.  But it is in fact I find from Homily 4, in the Greek p.335,4 – 338,22.[1]

What a world away this is, from the attitudes expressed in Martial, a man whose idea of a pleasant afternoon is to summon one of his slaves, and the girl-slave that the lad loves, and rape both of them.

  1. [1]As given in the Hall translation pp.73-4.  The edition translated is In Ecclesiasten homiliae. Edidit Paulus Alexander in Gregorii Nysseni opera. Auxilio aliorum virorum doctorum edenda curavit Wernerus Jaeger. Volumen V (Leiden 1986), pp. 195-442.

More from the Chronicle of Zuqnin

I continue translating part IV of ps.Dionysius of Tell-Mahre.  Dates are in AG, but Chabot has added AD to them.

In the year 1008 (696-697), died Constantine, Emperor of the Romans; he was succeeded by Justinian who reigned ten years.

In the year 1017 (705-706), a synod met in the monastery of Mar Silas. The principal members of this synod are known: the Patriarch Julian, Thomas, bishop of Amida, and James [bishop] of Edessa, the Interpreter of books. This holy Mar James, Bishop of Edessa, is famous.

In the year 1018 (706-707), died Justinian, Emperor of the Romans; he was succeeded by Leontius, who reigned three years.

In the year 1019 (707-708), holy Mar Julian, Patriarch of Antioch, died; Mar Elias succeeded him.

 [12] In the year 1020 (from 708 to 709), there took place a new census that was added to the first, which greatly increased the evil.

In the year 1021 (709-710), died holy Mar James, Bishop of Edessa, who was succeeded by Mar Habib.

At that time flourished holy Mar Thomas the Stylite, of Tela.

In the year 1022 (710-711), died Leontius, Emperor of the Romans, in place of whom reigned for seven years, Tiberius Apsimar.

In the year 1023 (711-712), Walid died, King of the Arabs; he was succeeded by Suleiman who reigned two and a half years.

In the year 1024 (712-713), died Mar Thomas Saint, Bishop of Amida; Mar Theodotus succeeded him.

After Apsimar, emperor of the Romans, Justinian reigned six years; after him Philip reigned three years; then Anastasius two years, finally Theodosius-Constantine one year.  The latter was occupying the throne when Maslamah invaded the territory of the Romans. In the years of the reigns of the Roman emperors added together make twelve years; this calculation is made almost to the year, more or less.  The Arabs only count the moons and never the months like the Syrians; most writers even do not make a complete chronology, but counting only the years of the reign, they omit the time of discord between the two kingdoms. As for me, I did the same in this chapter, so that the reader is not disturbed.

[13] In the year 1028 (716-717), Maslamah entered the Roman Empire. The countless troops of the Arabs gathered and began to invade the territory of the Romans. All the countries of Asia and Cappadocia fled before them, as well as the entire coastal region. 

They reached mount Maurus and the Lebanon, as far as Melitene, and on the river Arsanias, and as far as Armenia. This whole area was remarkable for the number of its inhabitants and its abundant vineyards, its grain, and its magnificent trees of all kinds. Since then it is devastated, and these regions are no longer inhabited. When the emperor saw the multitudes that came against him and he learned that his general, Leo, had made a pact with them, his heart grew weak and his hands trembled. He abdicated the throne, laid down the crown and had his head shaved. Indeed, it is the custom, if a Roman emperor abdicates, that he has his head shaved and then lives in his house without going out. So he did this. Leo sent to him: “Take courage and do not fear,” but he was not convinced, and he persisted in abdicating the empire.

Now this Leo was a man of courage, strong and aggressive. He was Syrian by race and originally from these confines. Because of his valour, he had been made general. By his skillfulness, he prevented the earth drinking the blood of men. He made a pact with Maslamah, promising to bring him into Constantinople without a fight. The latter, confident in the promise of Leo, no longer made war, made no prisoners, went to Constantinople and vigorously laid siege to this city. Leo came into [14] the city, and seeing that the Romans were desperate and that the emperor had abdicated, he stirred up their courage. “Fear not,” he said to them. They saw his bravery, and fearing that he would reproach them for what they had done to the previous emperor, made him emperor.

In assuming the imperial crown, he also gave strength and courage. He consolidated the city wall. He sent an army to cut the roads that would let through an army from Syria; he also destroyed the pontoon bridge and cut it.

The Arabs and their whole army were thus shut up as prisoners. Maslamah ordered vines planted, but a great and violent famine broke out among them, so much so that bread was absent from the camp and they ate their pack animals and horses. When Maslamah asked Leo, “Where is the oath that you made to bring me into Constantinople without fighting?” the latter replied calmly: “Wait a few days until the nobles of the Empire have submitted to me.” They remained without fighting in their respective positions, one inside, the other outside, for about three years. The famine grew so much among Arabs that they ate their shoes and the corpses of dead, and they attacked each other, so that nobody dared to go alone.

While Maslamah was constantly putting pressure on Leo: “Keep your promise, or I will attack,” the news came that the king of the Arabs, Suliman, was dead and Omar [II] had succeeded him. However, Omar sent him a letter: “Get out of there, lest you perish with hunger, you and all that are with you,” Maslamah, after having received [15] this letter, asked Leo to allow him to enter the city to visit him. He entered with thirty horsemen, went around for three days and admired the royal works. The Arabs retired from there and returned without having achieved anything. They arrived at a certain town called Tounou [=Tyana]; the prefect of the city seeing them starving, emaciated, weak, conceived a contempt for them and sent a message to Leo, “Send me an army and I will attack them by surprise.” But this design did not escape them. When they learned that an army was behind them, a leader of the Arab troops, one of the principal men among them, called `Abbas said to Maslamah: “Give me an army, to go to face them before they arrive, lest they surround us and make us disappear from the earth, and that our end is worse than anything that happened to us in this way.” – He took a large army and went to meet them. The latter were marching in separate groups, were not yet prepared to fight and knew nothing of this army of Arabs coming to meet them. `Abbas went down before them into a large meadow, in which they themselves had intended to camp that day. He put the whole army in ambush, in ditches and patches of reeds that were there.

The Romans came in their turn, and went down into the meadow, not knowing anything and not perceiving even what had been done by Arabs. They set up their camp and everyone sent his horse to pasture, as is customary in the army. Then the Arabs sortied out of their ambush and from the valleys in which they were standing all around the meadow. At the signal agreed upon between them, they rushed upon the Romans they were surrounding them and put them all to the sword. Not one of them escaped. However the Romans were about sixty thousand. After having stripped the dead, the Arabs returned to their companions. 

[16] Another Roman army who was coming from behind, having learned what had happened to the first, was seized with terror and turned back. The Arabs, after they had plundered and foraged everything that was within their reach, they left this country and came to Syria.

In the year 1032 (720-721), which was the first year of `Omar, King of the Arabs, and the fourth of Leo, emperor of the Romans, Maslamah left the territory of the latter, after having plundered and devastated the entire region, which he changed into a barren desert.

I omit many things that happened in this campaign to avoid prolonging this story.

At this time flourished the patriarch Elias, Mar Habib, [Bishop] of Edessa, Simeon of Harran  and Theodotus of Amida.