Beatitudines aliae, section 2

In the comments to my last post it was pointed out that the syntax of the sentence of Beatitudines aliae capita xx is poetic, rather than prose; and the word order is accordingly weird.

The first two “chapters” – or rather sentences – are both in a similar form.  The first clause consists of:

  1. Μακάριος ὃς (“Blessed is he who”), then:
  2. A verb in participle form, meaning “having been/done/hated/whatever”.  This expects an object, but the object is displaced to the end of the clause.  Instead:
  3. A verb or two in the simple indicative, past or present – I am avoiding too much jargin here – meaning “he does/feels/whatever”.
  4. The object.

So in section 1, we had “Blessed is he who, having hated | the human life, abandoned [it]”.  But “the human life” was at the end of the clause.

Section 2 is as follows.

β’. Μακάριος ὃς μισήσας βδελύσσεται τν κακίστην μαρτίαν, Θεν μόνον γαπήσας τν γαθν κα φιλάνθρωπον.

Modern Greek translation, printed by Phrantzolas:

2. Μακάριος αυτός πού μίσησε καί άποστρέφεται την απαίσια αμαρτία, επειδή αγάπησε μόνο τόν αγαθό καί φιλάνθρωπο Θεό.

Traversari’s Latin translation, printed by Assemani:

Beatus, qui odit ac detestatur pessimum peccatum, Deumque solum bonum atque hominum amatorem diligit.

This as before gives a general sense rather than an accurate one.

A kind correspondent pointed out last time that the syntax  of the first clause is in a poetic order, so needs to be rearranged for translation purposes.  We have

Μακάριος, ὃς | μισήσας βδελύσσεται | τν κακίστην μαρτίαν,

Blessed is he, who | having hated the worst sin | loathes [it].

Where βδελύσσεται (normal meaning = loathe) is the active verb (3rd person present indicative middle/passive), and the object is “τν κακίστην μαρτίαν”  (= the worst sin), which we must pull forward after the participle, μισήσας.

A mistake I made last time was in not checking Lampe’s Lexicon of Patristic Greek.  This pays dividends again, for on p.294 I find βδελλύσσομαι given as “abhor”, which is better than loathe.

So far so good.  Now the rest of the clause, which I read as:

Θεν μόνον | γαπήσας | τν γαθν κα φιλάνθρωπον

having loved | only God | [who is] good and loves mankind.

Here I move the aorist active singular masculine participle γαπήσας (“having loved”) to the front, as all the rest are in agreement with “God”.

But this is still not right, I think.  Clearly there is something about the syntax of the second clause that I don’t know, about that aorist participle.  It feels wrong.

Googling I find that an aorist participle should mean a past event, except where the main verb is also aorist, when it can mean a contemporary event.  (It can even mean a subsequent event, rarely! Aargh!)[1]  In our context, that does make sense.

Traversari cheerfully changes the participle into an indicative, and the aorist into the present tense.  He treats it as meaning “loves / values / esteems / aspires to”, which seems about right.  But even here “loving only God…” would be closer.

Putting it together, we get:

2. Blessed is he, who having hated the worst sin, abhors [it], loving only God [who is] good and loves mankind.

Is that right?  Criticisms welcomed below!

  1. [1]See Daniel B. Wallace, here: “The aorist participle, for example, usually denotes antecedent time to that of the controlling verb.[1] But if the main verb is also aorist, this participle may indicate contemporaneous time.[2]” References: “[1]  We are speaking here principally with reference to adverbial (or circumstantial) participles. [2]  Cf. Robertson, Grammar, 1112-13. From my cursory examination of the data, the aorist participle is more frequently contemporaneous in the epistles than in narrative literature. There is also such a thing as an aorist participle of subsequent action, though quite rare.”

From my diary – yes, Ephraem Graecus and Phrantzolas etc

A kind correspondent lent me the missing volume 2 of Phrantzolas today.  So I’ve been able to add the page numbers for the works in this volume into my XML file of works and editions.

I’ve also just gone through the list of translations at Tikhon Alexander Pino’s excellent website, Saint Ephrem the Syrian: Translations from the Greek Corpus, to which all this writing about Ephraim Graecus owes so much.  I’ve added in brief references to these to the XML as well, plus a couple of other sources which I came across independently.

I don’t know if the XML will actually be useful to anyone – it’s all pretty obvious -, but in case it is, I upload it here:

There are probably bugs in this, although I have validated the basic format against this online validator here.  Still, it is what it is.

I’d like to generate a nice human-readable HTML page from this, but I’m running low on time now.  I shall have to go off to work for bread, like everyone else, very soon.  Still… watch this space.


From my diary – still more Phrantzolas and Ephraem Graecus

I have now looked through all the volumes of the Phrantzolas edition of Ephraem Graecus, (except for volume 2 which I do not have), and added all the page numbers of the works, as printed in it, to the file of works and page numbers and editions that I am building up.

Probably I shall have to buy a paper copy of volume 2 in order to do the rest.  It’s 40 euros, tho, including postage from Greece, so I have hesitated.

I’ve also created an XML version of the file, which I’ve sent over to the Pinakes people so that they can add in the Assemani page numbers to their page on the works of Ephraim Graecus.  Their list of works is that of the Phrantzolas edition.

The Phrantzolas edition of Ephraim Graecus is clearly now the “standard edition”.  The Greek text is printed in a modern typeface – the early 18th century Assemani is hardly readable.  The choice of contents is more restricted than Assemani; but many of the “works” listed by Assemani are duplicates, as everyone acknowledges.  It is unfortunate that this edition is present in few western libraries.  None is listed in COPAC for the UK, for instance.

However it is a great pity that K. Phrantzolas did not add a few pages to his work, and explain just why each work or fragment in Assemani was, or was not, included.  All we have is the product of his labour, and his modern Greek translation.  So for works listed in Assemani, but not included by Phrantzolas, the reader is left to wonder whether the item is actually a duplicate, a fragment, and if so, of what?

But with 156 works in Phrantzolas’ 7 volumes, the researcher has plenty to work on!  Also all the works have a modern Greek translation, which will help some; and Assemani prints a Latin translation of all the works he prints.  So even without knowledge of ancient Greek, a researcher should be able to work with the corpus.

I intend to place online my own concordance of the works printed by Phrantzolas, with the pages of Assemani, and a Greek text found online for most of them.  I’m not quite sure what format would be most useful, tho.

My time of leisure is probably coming to an end, and I shall have to go back to work.  So getting that online will be a convenient stopping point for Ephraim Graecus.  I shall try to do that in the next couple of days.


From my diary

On Saturday I was working on a text file containing the works of Ephraem Graecus, as they appear in the Phrantzolas edition, with CPG numbers and Assemani page numbers.  This proved much more difficult than I had at first thought, and I was reduced to opening the PDFs of the Greek text and looking at the opening words in the index of initia in the CPG volume 5.

At various points it became obvious that it would be very helpful if I had a PDF of the CPG that was searchable.

I don’t possess the volumes of the CPG and never have.  The price puts them outside the reach of the layman.  (I do possess a copy of the CPL, however, because Brepols issued a paperback of it).  So, like most people, I am dependent on PDFs made up of photos taken with a mobile phone by someone or other.  These are always askew, and can’t be made searchable.

However… in my directory of CPG files, I discovered a set of 5 PDFs where the images of each double-page were pretty much square on, and also in grey-scale.  I never used them, as the grey-scale was faint, and unpleasant to look at.  But I started to experiment.

I pulled one volume into Finereader 12, with the options set to automatically split pairs of pages into two.  To my amazement this worked fine, without need for correction (in subsequent volumes I had to manually split a dozen pages).

The single page images were still a rubbishy hard-to-read grey, however.  I then tried saving the images out of FR12 to disk, as black and white .png files.  I hoped that these would be readable and … it worked!  The original images were such high resolution that the black-and-white versions were just fine.

The new page images were also much more readable, being black and white.

I then combined all the B/W images into a new PDF file, which became my new volume of the CPG.  So now I had a PDF of perfectly readable, square-on, single pages, in black and white.

I wanted to make this searchable.  Ideally the Greek should be searchable as Greek, and the Latin as Latin.  I am not clear how to do this.  One idea would be to pull the black and white images back into FR12, OCR them, and then let FR12 create a searchable PDF.  This might well work;  but the PDFs created by Finereader tend to be huge.  And… would the ancient Greek really work?

What I did instead was to use Adobe Acrobat Pro 9 to OCR the B/W PDFs.  This makes the Latin text more or less searchable.  It’s a start.

I’ve had to pause work on this for much of today in order to do a job interview, but I am resuming the process for all the volumes tonight.  Then I shall return to the Phrantzolas file, with the aid of searchable PDFs.

The job interview was successful, so I may have to go back to work next week!  Whatever I am to do must be done now!


From my diary – more Phrantzolas and Ephraem Graecus

At the  moment I am plodding away through a tedious but necessary task.

On the web here, there is a page which purports to be a list of all the works of Ephraem Graecus, as they appear in the seven volume Phrantzolas translation / edition.  It also links to a PDF with the ancient Greek text of most of them.

It’s fairly obvious that this is a useful item, which would be much more useful if it had the CPG number for each work, and the page numbers in the Assemani edition, and indeed the page numbers for the works in the Phrantzolas edition.  So I have begun to prepare a version of it, in just such a form.

Boy it is hard work!

I’d naively assumed that Phrantzolas wouldn’t resequence the works from the order in which they appear in Assemani.  This is largely, but not completely true.

I knew that he omitted “texts” which are duplicate, printing in each case the longest version.  I had not realised quite how wholesale the omissions are.  In fact, we really need a cross-reference table for each work, indicating which of the several  versions in Assemani has been translated by Phrantzolas.  But this does not seem to be in the edition.  Indeed Phrantzolas states that an index volume will be published separately.  Unfortunately I have not been able to locate any details of such a volume.

Clearly Ephraem Graecus scholarship needs to start with some basic bibliographical tasks, requiring no more than the skills of a research assistant.  But this is a very necessary task, which is as yet undone.

So… I have been driven back to work from the original list.  I find that in CPG volume 5 there is a list of authors and (Latin titles) in alphabetical order, which helps quite a lot.  There is also a list of Greek initial words (initia), which also (but not always) helps.

Slowly, slowly I drive this forward.  I am in volume 4 at the moment.  I’ve not added the Phrantzolas page numbers as yet – I’ll do a second pass for these.

I’m editing in raw HTML, as this gives me some interesting capabilities for bulk find-and-replace.  I’m not convinced, either, about the format.

Nor am I certain that the result would be best hosted here.  I wonder if perhaps the Saint Ephraim site ( might be a better place?  Oh well.  First create the thing.


Ephraem Graecus: the Phrantzolas edition (part 5)

Well, well.  At the start of volume 7 of the Phrantzolas edition of Ephraim Graecus, there is an additional introduction!  Let’s see what it says, shall we?  (Here are the pages – click to enlarge)

Once again I have OCRd them, and run the result through Google Translate.  We get this:

Αντί επιλόγου

Μέ τόν παρόντα Ζ’ τόμο ολοκληρώνεται ή έκδοση των Έργων του μεγάλου καί θεοφόρου Πατρός μας Όσιου Έφραίμ του Σύρου, ώστε νά γίνει προσιτή σέ όλους ή θεόπνευστη διδασκαλία του.

Τήν καλή αφορμή, γιά νά έπιχειρήσουμε τήν παρούσα έκδοση, πρόσφεραν σ’ εμάς Αγιορείτες Πατέρες, καί τό βάρος καί τή θεάρεστη φροντίδα γιά τήν πραγματοποίησή της έπωμίσθηκαν μέ προθυμία οί εκλεκτοί φίλοι έκδότες των Εκδόσεων «Τό Περιβόλι της Παναγίας». Άπό τή θέση μάλιστα αυτή θεωρούμε χρέος νά έκφράσουμε τίς ευχαριστίες μας στόν υπεύθυνο των Εκδόσεων γιά τήν πολύτιμη συνεργασία καί συμμετοχή σέ όλα τά στάδια της επίπονης διαδικασίας της έκδοσης αυτής.

Άπό τήν άρχή άνέκυψε όξύ τό πρόβλημα της άναζήτησης των έλληνικών μεταφράσεων των ’Έργων του Σύρου Πατρός. Γι’ αυτό καί ή προσοχή μας στράφηκε στήν άνεύρεση των παλαιών καί των νεώτερων εκδόσεων, καί των χειρογράφων.

Στό στάδιο αυτό μάς συμπαραστάθηκαν πατρικώς οί Σεβαστοί Γέροντες, π. Χαραλάμπης, Ηγούμενος της Ί. Μ. Διονυσίου, καί π. Γρηγόριος, Ηγούμενος της Ί. Μ. Δοχειαρίου, καθώς καί ό σεβαστός καί άγαπητός π. Νικόδημος, Μοναχός Άγιοπαυλίτης, τούς όποιους καί εύσεβάστως ευχαριστούμε.

Ευχαριστούμε επίσης τόν ’Ομότιμο Καθηγητή της Θεολογικής Σχολής τού Πανεπιστημίου ’Αθηνών κ. Γεώργιο Γαλίτη, καί τόν Επίκουρο Καθηγητή τής Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής τού Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης κ. Παναγιώτη Σωτηρούδη, γιά τό άμέριστο ένδιαφέρον μέ τό όποιο μάς συμπαραστάθηκαν στήν έκδοσή μας.

Τή μνεία ώστόσο τού μακαριστού Γέροντος Έφραίμ, Ηγουμένου τής Ί. Μ. Ξηροποτάμου, αισθανόμαστε έπιβεβλημένη γιά τό πατρικό ένδιαφέρον πού έδειξε γιά τήν πραγματοποίηση τής άπόφασής μας.

Τό άρχαΐο κείμενο τής παρούσας έκδοσης άντλήσαμε άπό τίς παλαιότυπες έκδόσεις τών Ed.Thwaites (’Οξφόρδη, 1709) καί J. S. Assemani (Ρώμη, 1732-1746), άλλά καί άπό νεώτερους έκδότες-έρευνητές. Παράλληλα άναζητήσαμε στούς χειρόγραφους κώδικες κείμενα τών Λόγων τού Σύρου Πατρός, άνέκδοτα ώς τώρα. Πολύ χρήσιμη στάθηκε ή έργασία τού Μ. Geerard (Clavis Patrum Graecorum), όπου έχουν καταχωρηθεΐ τά άποτελέσματα τής έρευνας στό χώρο τής έφραίμειας γραμματείας.

’Ανέκδοτα κείμενα πού άντλήσαμε άπό χειρόγραφους κώδικες, είναι τά εξής:

1. Λόγος περί τής άναστάσεως, έν τοίς έγκαινίοις, καί περί τού άγιου μνήματος (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 244 ΜΠΤ τής Εθνικής Βιβλιοθήκης ’Αθηνών, ΙΔ’ αί., φύλλα 60r-62v).

2. Λόγος έν τώ σταυρώ, έπί των έγκαινίων, καί περί τοϋ άγιου ξύλου του σταυροϋ (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 244 ΜΠΤ τής Εθνικής Βιβλιοθήκης Αθηνών, ΙΔ’ αί., φύλλα 62v-65r).

3. Πώς ό ληστής προ τής άναστάσεως είσήλθεν εις τον παράδεισον (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 115 τής Ί. Μ. Δοχειαρίου Αγίου Όρους, ΙΕ’ αί., φύλλο 157).

4. Λόγος εις τό μαρτύριον του άγιου μεγαλομάρτυρος Βονιφατίου (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 4887.767 τής Ί. Μ. Ίβήρων Αγίου Όρους, ΙΗ’ αί., φύλλα 44ν-54ν).

5. Λόγος περί τοϋ Καιν, καί τοϋ Αβελ τής άναιρέσεως (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 99 τής Ί. Μ. Παντοκράτορος Αγίου Όρους, ΙΣΤ’ αί., φύλλα 375r-396r).

6. Λόγος εις τον Αβραάμ καί Ισαάκ (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 163 ΜΠΤ τής Εθνικής Βιβλιοθήκης Αθηνών, ΙΣΤ’ αί., φύλλα 8v-17r).

7. Λόγος ότε οί μάγοι παρεγένοντο εις ‘Ιεροσόλυμα (Χειρόγραφο Μόσχας άριθ. 284 (Vladimir 215), Θ’ αί., φύλλα 101v-103r).

Στήν πορεία τής έκδοσής μας άντιμετωπίσαμε οξύ τό πρόβλημα τής αυθεντικότητας τών μεταφρασμένων στήν ελληνική έργων τοϋ Σύρου Πατρός, πού από τίς αρχές τοϋ αιώνα μας απασχόλησε τούς ειδικούς καί τήν έρευνα. Εμείς κατά τήν έπιλογή τών κειμένων σταθήκαμε μέ σεβασμό στήν παράδοση τών χειρογράφων, καί γι’ αυτό μόνο έλάχιστα κείμενα άφήσαμε έξω άπό τήν παρούσα έκδοση.

Από τά διπλά ώστόσο κείμενα πού συναντήσαμε στους παλαιούς έκδοτες καί στά χειρόγραφα, έπιλέξαμε τά πληρέστερα. Τά διπλά κείμενα τής έκδοσης τοϋ Assemani έπισήμανε μέ άκρίβεια ή Δημοκρατία Hemmerdinger-Ήλιάδου (βλ. Orientalia Christiana Periodica, τόμος XXIV, 1958, τευχ. 3-4, σελ. 371-381).

Κείμενα ελληνικών χειρογράφων πού άφήσαμε έξω άπό τήν έκδοσή μας είναι:

1. Λόγος εις τόν βίον τοϋ οσίου πατρός ημών Ανδρονίκου καί τής συμβίας αύτοΰ Αθανασίας (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 2541.208 τής Ί. Μ. Ξηροποτάμου Αγίου Όρους, ΙΒ’ αί., σελ. 406 κ.έ.). Αποδίδεται στόν Όσιο Έφραίμ, άλλά ό βιογραφούμενος Άγιος έζησε τόν έκτο αιώνα.

2. Κεφάλαια πάνυ τερπνά (Χειρόγραφο άριθ. 394 τής ‘I. Μ. Μεταμορφώσεως Μετεώρων, ΙΒ’ αί., φύλλα 394-405). Είναι άνθολόγηση άπό Λόγους τοϋ Όσιου Έφραίμ τοϋ Σύρου, τούς οποίους έχουμε περιλάβει στήν έκδοσή μας.

Πληροφορούμε τέλος τούς ένδιαφερόμενους άναγνώστες δτι ετοιμάζεται ή έκδοση Εύρετηρίων τών Έργων τοϋ Όσιου Έφραίμ σέ ξεχωριστό τόμο.

Παραδίδοντας λοιπόν όλοκληρωμένη τήν παρούσα έκδοση τών Έργων τοϋ μεγάλου καί θεοφόρου Πατρός μας Όσιου Έφραίμ τοϋ Σύρου στήν κοινή ωφέλεια καί οικοδομή, παρακαλοΰμε τούς φιλόθεους καί φιλάδελφους άναγνώστες νά εύχονται γιά τούς κοπιάσαντες σ’ αυτό τό πνευματικό έργόχειρο, ώστε νά βροΰμε έλεος ένώπιον τοϋ θρόνου τής μεγαλωσύνης τοϋ μεγάλου Θεοΰ τής έλπίδας μας.

Στόν Σωτήρα μας Κύριο Ίησοΰ Χριστό άνήκει ή δόξα, καί στόν Όσιό του Έφραίμ τόν Σύρο ή τιμή, στούς άπέραντους αιώνες. Αμήν.

Κωνσταντίνος Π Φραντζόλας


With this present volume, the publication of the works of our great and divine Father St Ephraim Syrus is completed so that he and his inspired teaching becomes accessible to all.

The good reason for us to handle the present edition was the offer of Holy Fathers to us, and the weight and the sincere care for its realization were eloquently expressed by the eminent friends, “The Garden of Our Lady” publishers. From this point of view, we feel obliged to express our gratitude to the publications officer for valuable cooperation and participation in all stages of the painful process of this publication.

From the beginning, the problem of the authenticity of the Greek translations of the Syrian Father’s Works was raised. That is why our attention turned to the discovery of old and newer versions, and manuscripts.

At this stage, the Sacred Elders, Father Charalambis, Abbot of I.M. Dionysios, paternally supported us. and P. Grigorios, Abbot of I. M. Docheiarios, as well as the respected and dear Nicodemus, the Monk Agapassilitis, whom we thank graciously.

We also thank the Professor Emeritus of the Theological School of the University of Athens, Mr. George Galitis, and the Assistant Professor at the Philosophical School of the University of Thessaloniki, Mr. Panayiotis Sotiroudis, for the unparalleled interest with which they supported us in our publication.

However, the mention of the elder Efraim, the Abbot of the I. M. Xeropotamos, we feel affectionate for the parental interest he has shown in the realization of our decision.

The original text of this publication was derived from the old editions of Ed. Thwaites (Oxford, 1709) and J.S. Assemani (Rome, 1732-1746), but also from more recent editors. At the same time, we looked at hitherto unknown manuscripts of the Syrian Father’s works. Most useful was the work of M. Geerard (Clavis Patrum Graecorum), where the results  were recorded of research in the field by the secretariat.

Unpublished texts that we drew from manuscripts are as follows:

1. Sermon on the resurrection (anastasis), during the inauguration (of the temple), and on the tomb (of the Lord) (Manuscript No 244 of the National Library of Athens, Nos., Pages 60r-62v).

2. Sermon on the Cross, on the Inaugurations, and on the Holy Wood of the Crucifix (Manuscript No 244 of the National Library of Athens, Nos., Pages 62v-65r).

3. How the robber entered paradise prior to the resurrection (Manuscript No. 115 of St. John’s Doheryour, Mount 157, p. 157).

4. Words of the Holy Martyr Boniface (Manuscript No. 4887,767 of the Holy Monastery of Iviron of Mount Athos, LH., Pages 44v-54v).

5. Sermon on Cain and Abel in Revelation (Manuscript No 99 of the Holy Monastery of Saint Athos, Pasteur, pages 375r-396r).

6. Sermon on Abraham and Isaac (Manuscript No 163 of the National Library of Athens, pp. 8v-17r).

7. Sermon on why the magicians came to Jerusalem (Moscow Manuscript No 284 (Vladimir 215), Ile., folios 101v-103r).

In the course of our publication, we have faced acutely the problem of the authenticity of the works of the Syrian Father translated into Greek, which since the beginning of this century has been the concern of specialists and research. When selecting the texts, we were respectful of the manuscript tradition, and so only a few texts were left out of this publication.

However, from the double texts we encountered in the old editions and the manuscripts, we have chosen the longer. The double texts of the Assemani version have been accurately documented by Hemmerdinger-Iliadou (see Orientalia Christiana Periodica, volume XXIV, 1958, pp. 3-4, pp. 371-381).

Greek manuscripts that we left out of our publication are:

1. A speech in the life of our father Andronikos and his wife, Athanasia (Manuscript No 2541.208 of Ioannis of the Xeropotamos monastery, Mount Athos, pp. 406 et seq.). It is attributed to the Holy Ephraim, but the Saint in question lived in the sixth century.

2. All-pleasing (τερπνά) Chapters (Manuscript No. 394 of I.M. Meteorosis Meteora, L.A., folios 394-405). It is a liturgy from the Words of the Holy Ephraim of Syros, which we have included in our edition.

Finally, we would like to inform our interested readers that the publication of an index of the works of St Ephraim is being prepared in a separate volume.

Delivering therefore the completed present edition of the works of our great and God-bearing Father, the venerable Ephraim of Syros to the common benefit and edification, we ask the God-loving and brethren-loving readers to pray for those who toiled in this spiritual handiwork so that we may find mercy before the throne of the greatness of the great God of our hope.

To our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to St Ephraim the Syrian, be glory and honor, throughout the centuries. Amen.

Konstantinos P. Phrantzolas

Now I do not speak even a word of modern Greek, but we do get quite a lot of information from this, even if it degenerates into gibberish at points.  We get the extra texts that Phrantzolas added, although I’m not at all sure about the accuracy of the English titles!  We get the mss that he used (probably more reliable in the Greek).

All useful stuff!

UPDATE: (7 Nov 2018): Many thanks indeed to the correspondent who wrote in and corrected the gibberish bits of Google Translate for us – thank you!


Ephraem Graecus: the Phrantzolas edition (part 4)

I’m still looking at the Phrantzolas edition and (modern Greek) translation of “Ephraim Graecus”, the huge but neglected collection of texts in Greek attributed (mainly wrongly) to Ephraim Syrus in the manuscripts.

I thought that I would OCR the prologue and introduction to volume 1, and run the result through Google translate, to see what it said that might interest us.  Sadly the answer is “not much”.

The prologue is purely flowery compliments.  It tells us nothing about the process of creating the edition.  The introduction contains lots of stuff about Ephraim himself, useful to the modern Greek general reader; but not especially interesting to us.  However at the end, we get the following:

Έπιλογικό σημείωμα

Τό κείμενο τής αρχαίας μετάφρασης στήν Ελληνική γλώσσα των ’Έρ­γων του Όσιου Έφραίμ του Σύρου αντλήσαμε άπό τίς παλαιότυπες Εκδό­σεις (Ed. Thwaites, 1709 καί J. S. Assemani, 1732-1746) επιλέγοντας άπό τίς παραδομένες γραφές εκείνες πού κατά τή γνώμη μας είναι σύμφωνες μέ τή λογική, αισθητική καί συντακτική δομή του κειμένου. Σέ ελάχιστα ση­μεία καταλήξαμε σέ λύσεις γιά την άποκατάσταση τής νοηματικής σαφή­νειας του κειμένου.

Άπό τά γνωστά σημεία γραφής στίς Εκδόσεις κειμένων χρησιμοποιήσαμε τίς αγκύλες [], γιά τόν εξοβελισμό (άπόρριψη) λέξεων του κειμένου, καί τά άντίλαμβδα < > γιά τήν πρόταση λύσεων πρός άποκατάσταση του κειμένου.

Κατά τή μετάφραση στό νεοελληνικό λόγο φροντίσαμε, μέ τίς ταπεινές μας δυνάμεις, νά περισωθεί δ,τι ήταν δυνατόν άπό τό κάλλος καί τήν ήδύτητα του λόγου καί του πνεύματος τού Όσιου Πατρός ήμών Έφραίμ τού Σύρου.

Ευχαριστίες δφείλουμε στόν τότε Διάκονο Έφραίμ Ξηροποταμηνό, πού μέ τίς ευλογίες τού μακαριστού Γέροντός του Έφραίμ Ξηροποταμηνού μας παραχώρησε τό πλούσιο βιβλιογραφικό υλικό πού είχε συλλέξει, ευλαβούμενος τόν *Όσιο.

Ή έκδοση αυτή δφείλει πολλά γιά τήν άρτια παρουσίασή της στή φροντίδα των Εκδόσεων «Τό Περιβόλι τής Παναγίας»·

Which google translate rendered something like this:

Editorial note

The text of the ancient translation into the Greek language of the works of the Holy Ephraim of Syros was drawn from the old editions (Ed. Thwaites, 1709 and J.S. Assemani, 1732-1746) by selecting from the delivered texts those readings which in our opinion, are consistent with the logical, aesthetic and editorial structure of the text. In a few places, we have come up with solutions to restore the conceptual clarity of the text.

In the existing text in the editions, we used brackets [] to remove words from the text, and add suggestions for proposing solutions to restore the text.

In translating into the Modern Greek language, we have, with our humble powers, kept ourselves safe by the beauty and dexterity of the Word and the spirit of the Holy Father, the Ephraim of Syros.

We are grateful to Dean Ephraim Xeropotamenos, who, thanks to the blessings of the Elder of Ephraim Xeropotamenos, gave us the rich bibliographic material he had gathered, redeeming the Holy One.

This publication owes much for its excellent presentation to the care of the publishers, “To periboli tes Panagias”;

Not very certain of the last two sentences!  But interesting to know that the editor did alter the text.

I’ve also been looking at the now-vanished website of the Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, who translated some of Ephraem Graecus, and commented on the Phrantzolas edition.  The site is preserved in the Wayback Machine at, from which we get these words:

The large corpus of Greek texts that go under the name of St Ephrem the Syrian have been greatly neglected by scholars. The only full editions are those published in the 18th century by Thwaites, in Oxford [1709], and by Assemani, largely based on Thwaites, in Rome [1743]. Mercati began a critical edition in 1915, but only one fascicle of the first volume ever appeared. In 1988 a corrected reprint, based on the two eighteenth century editions, together with a translation into Modern Greek, began to be published in Thessaloniki. It was brought to completion late in 1998 with the publication of the seventh, and final, volume.  This final volume contains a number of texts that do appear in either of the 18th century editions. The whole is extremely useful, though it is not a critical, but rather a practical, edition.

Some of these texts seem to be translations of Syriac metrical homilies, but the majority of them are almost certainly original Greek works and most of these the product of Byzantine coenobitic monasticism. They are of different dates and by different authors. A number of them are written in the metre called in Syriac the ‘metre of St Ephrem’, but do not appear to be translations. Some of them seem to have been known to St Romanos the Melodist in the sixth century and one large collection of fifty ‘Exhortations to the Monks of Egypt’ is mentioned by St Photios the Great [c.810-c.895] in his ‘Library’.

The best known of these Greek texts is the prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian, which is prescribed for use in all the Lenten offices of the Church and is one of best loved prayers of Orthodox Christians. The vices there listed are those typical of coenobitic communities, which leads one to suggest that the prayer is unlikely to be by St Ephrem himself, though whether its origin is Greek or Syrian is harder to say. There is one intriguing difference between the Greek and Slavonic texts of the prayer. Where the Greek has ‘idle curiosity’, periergia, the Slavonic has ‘faint-heartedness’, which in Greek is akedia, the classic monastic sin. Does this go back to a different original, or is it a reflection of differing national temperaments?

These Greek writings attributed to St Ephrem have never been translated into English and so I hope on this page to begin to fill a yawning gap in the spiritual reading of English speaking Orthodox Christians. The translations are not ‘scholarly’, since no critical edition of the originals exists, but ‘practical’.

The page then contains his translations:

Sermon in Heptasyllablics
Three Short Discourses
55 Beatitudes
To the Monks of Egypt
On the Departed Fathers
On Abraham and Isaac
On Joseph
On the Transfiguration
On The Passion

Sadly it looks as if he did no more.

The statement that volume 7 contains otherwise unedited texts is interesting.  I must go and look!


Ephraem Graecus: the Phrantzolas edition (part 3)

Phrantzolas is mentioned in Part 1 and part 2)

A correspondent has discovered PDFs – or, rather, Djvu files – of a number of volumes of the Phrantzolas’ edition of Ephraem Graecus.[1]  Unfortunately volume 2 is corrupt and will not open – does anyone have a copy of this?

The edition prints a translation in modern Greek at the foot of each page, like this:

I’ve just installed a more modern WinDJView viewer, which seems to work well.  Using this, you can save a page out as png, and then import to Finereader 12, where the Modern Greek comes out as:

Μακαρίζω τήν υμών ζωήν, ώ φιλόχριστοι, δτι εύπαρρησίαστός έστι καί ταλανίζω τόν έμόν βίον, δτι άχρηστος υπάρχει. Μακαρίζω υμάς, ώ γνήσιοι, δτι όρθή πολιτεία φίλους έαυτούς έποιήσατε τώ Θεω [καί τοίς άγγελοις]. Τίς δέ περί έμου πενθήσει, δτι παρώξυνα Αυτόν διά των έργων μου των μάταιων;

Μακάριοί έστε υμείς, οί κληρονομοΰντες τόν παράδεισον διά της αγνής υμών άναστροφής καί τής αγάπης υμών τής άμέτρου. Θαυμάζω γάρ υμάς, πώς ούκ ώκνήσατε τοσαύτης όδοΰ διανύσαι διάστημα διά λυσίτέλειαν ψυχής. Τό δέ θαυμαστότερον, δτι πρός ευτελή καί κατακεκριμένον ταίς άμαρτίαιζ ήλθετε, παρ’ αύτοΰ αίτοΰντες τόν τής ώφελείας λόγον. Θαΰμα άληθώς, πώς

Which Google translate renders as:

I blame your life, you gentlemen, that you are intimate, and that I am ostentatious of life, that it is useless. I blame you, genuine ones, that you have made good friends with your friends, God and the angels. Whom do you mourn about me, that I have paraphrased Him through my works of vain?

Blessed are ye, the inheritors shall partake of it by your pure anger, and of your loving kindness. I admire you, how did you go along this path for a while? The most miraculous thing is that you have come to the lamentations and to the miserable sins, and they are asking for the word of opportunity. Marvel truly, how

This is gibberish, but as with all Google translations, not without uses.  If you interleave the Greek and English sentences, it acts as a useful vocabulary check.  But of course one must be wary.  Interesting how “blessed” is initially rendered as “blame”.

UPDATE: 2nd November 2018.  OK, well apparently the top is the modern Greek and the bottom is the ancient!  Thank you to the kind commenters who pointed this out.  Yes, I really cannot tell which is which on first glance – anybody got any tips on what to look out for?  Finereader for the top section gives me:

Λόγος γιά τις αρετές καί τις κακίες

Μακαρίζω τή ζωή σας, φιλόχριστοι, διότι είναι εύπαρρησίαστη1, καί ελεεινολογώ τόν δικό μου τρόπο ζωής, διότι είναι άνώφελος. Σας μακαρίζω, γνήσιοι άνθρωποι, διότι μέ τόν όρθό τρόπο ζωής κάνατε τους εαυτούς σας φίλους τού Θεού καί των Αγγέλων. Ποιός λοιπόν θά πενθήσει γιά μένα πού παρόργισα τόν Θεό μέ τά μάταια έργα μου;

Είστε μακάριοι εσείς, διότι μέ τήν αγνή διαγωγή σας καί τήν άμετρη άγάπη σας κληρονομείτε τόν παράδεισο. Σάς θαυμάζω δηλαδή πού δέ διστάσατε νά διανύσετε τόσο μακρύ δρόμο γιά τήν ώφέλεια τής ψυχής σας! Καί τό πιό αξιοθαύμαστο είναι, δτι ήρθατε σέ άνθρωπο τιποτένιο καί καταδικασμένο γιά τίς αμαρτίες του, ζητώντας απ’ αυτόν ώφέλιμο λόγο. Αληθινά, είναι νά άπο-

and Google translate for that gives me:

Reason for virtues and malice

I love your life, you are compassionate, because it is compassionate1, and I study my own way of life because it is beneficial. I blame you, genuine people, because in the right way of life you have made yourselves God and Angel’s friends. Who then will mourn for me that I have tempted God with my futile works?

You are blessed because, in your pure conduct and in your direct love, you inherit paradise. So I admire you where you did not want to go that long way for the benefit of your soul! And most admirable is that you have come to a humble and condemned man for his sins, asking for a beneficial reason. It is true,

Better, I think.

A kind correspondent tells me that the things to look for are:

  •  Dative drops off in later Greek
  • Nu disappears from the end of neuter nouns ~o
  1. [1]Konstantinos G. Phrantzolas (or Phrantzoles  – although the copyright on vol. 1 gives Κων. Γ. Φραντζόλάς – both seem to be used), Ὁσιοῦ Ἐφραίμ τοῦ Σύρου  ἔργα, Thessaloniki: Το περιβόλι της Παναγίας / To Perivoli tis Panagias, 1988-98, 7 vols

From my diary

A couple of busy days.  A look in the spam folder – Akismet is behaving erratically these days – revealed a week old but deeply interesting comment on the Printing banned by Islam? post from 2009.  I ended up adding a long extra section to the post, full of material about early Ottoman firmans – laws that lasted the life of a Sultan – concerned with printing.

[Update: I originally had material about the Phrantzolas edition here, but moved it to here, as it is really part of a series of posts].

I must go and find the web page that has all the files of the ancient Greek for Ephraem Graecus.  Always more to do!

I’ve also scanned the 1962 pamphlet, Mithras and his Temples on the Wall.  This has details of the Carrawburgh Mithraeum on Hadrian’s wall.  My scanner is still out, and another item may be for the same treatment in a moment.  Lots to do!


Hunting for the modern Greek translation of Ephraim Graecus

After my post on Ephraim Graecus here, I discovered that a modern edition of the whole collection exists, with a translation of all the works into modern Greek. This is Φραντζοᾶς, Ὁσιοῦ Ἐφραίμ τοῦ Σύρου, Thessaloniki, 1988-98, 7 vols.[1]  There is a website with a list of the contents by volume, and some mysterious-looking linked pages of text for each here.

My initial efforts to locate this, even in printed form, initially drew blank because the editor’s name does not appear on the websites.  You have to search for the Greek title, which is ΟΣΙΟΥ ΕΦΡΑΙΜ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΡΟΥ.  Searching for the editor name is futile.  If you do want to find it, try Phrantsoles (!).

I was luckier last night, and located a bookseller who had the volumes, in stock, and which played nice with Google Translate (just open in Chrome and right-click, and hit “Translate to English”.  It’s here:, Βιβλιοπωλείο Πολιτεία.  I was able to create an account easily enough via the Google Translated form of the website, and no doubt could have ordered.


The seven volumes each cost about 18.40 euros.  Unfortunately postage from Greece is as much again.

I have not been able to locate any copies of these volumes in British libraries.  No doubt some Greek Orthodox people have them.

But the existence of these volumes means that anyone whose first language is modern Greek has an enormous advantage over the rest of us.  It would be a tedious, but relatively straightforward business for such a person to prepare a summary of the contents of every work, in English and post it online.  Such a step would instantly make the works far more accessible.

There are quite a few people in patristics from a Greek Orthodox background.  Would any of them care to undertake the challenge?

There is more.  Google Translate does not handle ancient Greek, for some reason.  But it does handle modern Greek, as we have seen.  I wonder what it would make of some of these texts?

  1. [1]Konstantinos G. Phrantzolas / Κων. Γ. Φραντζόλάς, Ὁσιοῦ Ἐφραίμ τοῦ Σύρου  ἔργα, Thessaloniki: Το περιβόλι της Παναγίας / To Perivoli tis Panagias, 1988-98, 7 vols.  I’ve also seen google results for Phrantzoles (!).  After looking at the edition itself, I can see the name is plainly Phrantzolas.