June 2013

I my recent series on Origen and eternal punishment (v. here), I translated a portion of a lecture [1] in which Origen speculates about the end of time and the nature of punishment.  Some scholars take Origen’s “universalism” as a given, but the situation is more complicated than that.  In the homily on Ps. 76, Origen suggests pretty clearly that punishment is not eternal, and lasts only for a time.  He’s a bit elliptical, but it’s not difficult to fill in the gaps.  In other places, however, Origen states the familiar eternal punishment doctrine without comment.  Once such example comes in his third homily on Ps. 36, which I translate below.  He is commenting on Ps 36:19 (LXX), “They [sc. the righteous] will not be put to shame in an evil time, and in the days of famine they will be full.” In a future post, I’ll examine the Greek adjective αἰώνιος, and explore whether the two views can be reconciled.  

The righteous will inherit the promises forever in those days , and they “will not be be put to shame in an evil time.” ‘An evil time’ is what he calls the time of judgment,  due to the great number of sinners.  Because of the great number being punished, it is only the righteous who “will not be put to shame in an evil time,” that is, when the resurrection occurs and all shall rise, some to life, and some to eternal shame and rebuke.   

γὰρ ἐν ἐκεῖναις ταῖς ἡμέραις
εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα οἱ δίκαιοι τὰς ἐπαγγελίας,
καὶ οὐκ αἰσχυνθήσονται ἐν καιρῷ πονηρῷ,
καιρὸν δὲ πονηρὸν, τὸν τῆς κρίσεως ὀνομασε
διὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν ἁμαρτανόντων.
διὰ τοὺς πολλοὺς τῶν κολαζομένων,
μόνοι οὖν οἱ δίκαιοι, οὐκ αἰσχυνθήσονται
ἐν καιρῷ πονηρῷ
, ὅταν ἡ ἀναστασις
γίνηται, καὶ ἀνίστανται, οἱ μὲν, εἰς ζωὴν,
οἱ δὲ, εἰς ὀνειδισμὸν καὶ αἰσχύνην αἰώνιον. (Cod Mon Graec. f. 62v).


[1] I say lecture (instead of homily) because I am not sure that it was spoken in a church.  The greek word ὁμιλία, whence comes our word homily, originally just meant informal talk or lecture (rather than a highly polished rhetorical speech).  Homily became associated with Christian sermons because they tended to be the former, not the latter.  

ἐν αὐτῷ,


Since I’ve been reading the Psalms and the Iliad back to back, I’ve decided to write a bit of hexameter based on the Psalms.  These are scarcely great works of art, but do they allow me to practice the meter.  

Here’s my first offering, based on Ps. 36:31 (LXX).  

ἐν κράδιῃ νόμος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστι, ἄνακτος ἐόντος. 
τοῦ δ᾽ὁδός οὐκ ἐδαμάσθη, ὠκίστ᾽ ἐρχεται αὐτῃ.
“The law of God is in his heart, as the Lord is present [with him].
His path has not been overthrown, and he goes swiftly in it.” 
The Psalm itself reads:
ὁ νόμος τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐν καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ,
καὶ οὐχ ὑποσκελισθήσεται τὰ διαβήματα αὐτοῦ.
“The law of God is in his heart,
and his steps will not be overthrown.” 
ἐν αὐτῷ,

Spring Semester Finished:

My classes ended fairly well. I enjoyed my courses on Cicero, Latin Paleography, and Socrates. Part of Latin Paleography includes script identification, and for this I created digital flashcards. One side of the flashcard presents you with the plate, and the reverse has the script type. If I can find a reasonable way to share these, I’ll post them somewhere. Someone else may find them useful.

Fall Semester to Come:
I’ve signed up to take four classes: 2 Greek, 1 Latin, and a German for reading knowledge course. For Greek, I’m taking a course on the Greek Tragedians, and a Patristics seminar on Clement of Alexandria. On the Latin side, I’m taking a Survey of Roman Literature. Contra the normal meaning of “survey,” this will be an intense romp through several hundred years of Latin literature. I’ll be doing lots of prep over the summer!

Summer Plans:
This summer, I’ll teach my first class: Intermediate Greek II. We’ll be reading Homer, and perhaps a sprinkling of later stuff. This will no doubt be a learning experience for me. I hope it will be good one for my students!

My presentation at NAPS was well-received. I argued based on digital stylometrics that the homilies I examined from the new Origen codex (homilies 1-3 on Ps. 76, and homily 1 on Ps. 67) are consistent with Origen’s style in his other homilies. This was my first NAPS, and it was enjoyable. I met quite a few people (including those from CUA whom I’d not met before!). I also saw a few familiar faces, like fellow North Carolinian and Patristics geek Josh McManaway, who blogs here.

My days have been split between a several tasks. In the morning I’ve been doing a bit of devotional reading from the Greek psalms. Then I move on to Homer. It’s been rather slow-going, as I’ve forgotten a lot of my Homeric vocabulary from the fall. I’ve just finished book 1 and have started book 3. In spite of my vocabulary shortcomings, Homer is a lot of fun to read. The hexameter is a pretty easy meter, so I’m trying to read every line out loud at least once. Along with the Greek reading, I’ve been doing some secondary reading. I’m also reading through Butler’s prose translation. I have a more recent verse translation (Fagles’s), but I find it rather difficult to read more recent translations. Something about the meter of Fagles’ just rubs me the wrong way: it doesn’t always sound properly poetic. That’s probably more an indictment against my aesthetics than his verse, but since I’m getting the poetry in Greek I don’t feel the need to read solely verse renderings in English.

After Homer, I move onto mondern languages. I try to do 30-45 minutes a day of both German and Italian. I started with some workbooks, but I’m now using http://www.duolingo.com. It’s a fun way to get basic vocab and grammar down. The interface is rather nice. From my experience, I like it much more than Rosetta Stone, and it’s free! They have French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portugese, so I’d recommend it to anyone wishing to learn any of those languages. This is probably my third time having a go at German. I get a bit better each time, but it’s a frustrating language. I find it odd that a language genetically closer to English can prove so much more challenging. In some aspects, it’s rather different than English. There’s not as much vocabulary overlap as there is with French or Spanish, and the case system is much more active in German than it is in English. But sometimes, it’s quite close, but just different enough to throw me off (the interrogatives!). The fact that “wen” means “who” will drive me nuts! That said, I’m slowly improving. Italian, on the other hand, is quite easy. That’s not surprising, as I’ve had a large quantity of French and Latin, and a moderate exposure to Spanish. The pronunciation is different, and the orthography initially poses some challenges (like using ‘h’ to keep ‘c’ and ‘g’ hard), but once those are internalized it’s not bad. I was happy to find a bilingual edition of Dante’s Inferno at a used bookstore the other day. One day I hope to read the original!

My afternoons are generally given to Latin and either Greek translation or other summer work. Along with several of my fellow CUA grad students, I’m reading through book 13 of Tacitus’ annals. The narrative is quite interesting, but the Latin is rather taxing. I’m also trying to get a head start on my Roman Lit survey. I recently finished reading Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus in English, and started Catullus 64, his mini-epic. I’ve not read much Latin poetry in the past, so I need to get some under my belt! On the translation side, I continue to plod through Eusebius’ fragments on Luke. Eusebius’ prose is circuitous, pleonastic, and confusing, but his exegesis is usually interesting. He certainly keeps me on my toes.

ἑν αὐτῷ,