I am now en route back to Maryland, having attended my first Byzantine Studies Conference.  My stay was tiring, but delightful, even more so because of the generous hospitality I enjoyed from friends of my in-laws! Like most conferences of this breadth, you listen to a great variety of papers.  Some were good, some less so; some topics I knew well, and others not so well.  At any rate, there were plenty of interesting papers and people with whom and from whom to learn!

My own paper was received well.  As far as I can tell, it was the only Digital Humanities-esque paper, which surprised me.  I’ve discovered that being a computer guy in a room full of humanists elicits lots of discussion!  From what I can tell, humanists are interested in digital approaches, but they lack access to people with the skills to create or use them.  The paper I presented was about stemmatology: creating a family tree of manuscripts for a textual tradition.  It wasn’t anything new (this particular method, parsimony has been around quite a while in digital stemmatology), but the techniques I described were unfamiliar to many in the room.  I hope that digital humanists of all stripes will continue to attend traditional conferences, in addition to the Digital Humanities conferences.  We don’t need our disciplines to fragment any more than they are currently!

I ran into to several people I had met at Oxford this summer, and that was a treat.  It’s always nice to see familiar faces, and develop relationships further.  I also met many new people, one of the great benefits of conferences.  Scholarship is both communal and solitary.  Since most scholars tend towards solitude (I know I do!), it’s wonderful to gather with like-minded people and discuss the topics you love.  

Regarding the presentations, I noticed a dichotomy in Byzantine Studies between “texts” people and “art/materials” people.  I fit squarely in the “texts” group, but the “art/materials” people had some great presentations.  I was impressed by their ability to hold my attention, even though I have very little interest in Archaeology and Art History.  I guess it’s always helpful to have lovely art in one’s presentation!

One of my favorite paper was given by Fr. Maximos (Constas).  It offered his reflections on editing and translating Maximus the Confessor’s Ambigua, easily one of the most influential theological works in the history of the Eastern Church.  His edition is due out along with his translation soon from the Harvard University Press, as part of the new Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library.  His discription of the state of the text before his edition was appalling:  the edition printed in Migne’s Patrologia Graeca relied on a single late manuscript that was full of errors.  In addition, Migne added lots of his own errors to the text in the process of editing it.  Several of these errors have severely puzzled scholars, and made Maximus’ arguments impossible to follow.  Maximus is already difficult, and we had a poor edition making it even worse!  This deeply reaffirmed my own hope to edit patristic texts.  How many other Greek authors are laboring in such poor editions! Editing a text is difficult, laborious work: but it is also very rewarding. It generates something useful for the scholarly (and wider) community, and nothing engages one so deeply into a text as editing and translating it. It’s not for everyone, but we certainly need more editors!  Hopefully my own skills will progress quickly, and I’ll be able contribute an edition!

ἐν αὐτῷ,




A number of weeks ago, I posted about some material on the Psalms attributed to John Chrysostom, which I had found in some codices at Oxford. Alin Suciu posted some helpful comments on the post, which included references to a volume which he has recently posted online: de Aldama’s invaluable Repertorium pseudochrysostomicum. See his post here for a description and download.

Time slipped away, and I didn’t follow up the links to Aldama. But now that he’s posted it, I decided to take a look and see what he had to say about one of the homilies I found: a homily on Ps. 41. The homily starts off:

Ὑμεῖς μὲν ἡμᾶς ἐθαυμάσατε
πρώην· ὅτε τὸν περὶ τοῦ μελχισεδὲκ ἐκινήσαμεν λόγον.
ἐπὶ τῶ μήκει τῶν εἰρημένων.
ἐγὼ δὲ ὑμᾶς ἐθαύμαζον,

Thus, I flipped down toward the bottom, and found the discussion under entry 520. He says this:

Etsi ad commentarium Chrysostomi in Psalterium non pertineat (cf. Baur, in Chrysostomica 235), habetur tamen ut genuina, non obstante attributione quam Antiocho Ptolemaidensi fecit Thomas Bruno : cf. PG 64, 1417-1418.

I’d turn that into English as:

Even if it does not pertain to the commentary of Chrysostom on the Psalter (cf. Baur, in Chrysostomica 235), it is thought to be genuine, not withstanding the attribution to Antiochus Ptolemaidensi which Thomas Bruno made (cf. PG 64, 1417-1418).

As you can see, it’s quite a useful tool! It tells us this homily is generally held to be genuine, that it doesn’t belong to Chrysostom’s larger work on the psalms, and gives some bibliography. Alin, thanks again for making this tool more widely available!

ἐν αὐτῷ,

Like most Greek students, I started off pronouncing Greek in the standard, Erasmian pronunciation. This scheme has been used by westerners studying Greek since the Renaissance, and, with some variations, emulates the proposals put forth by the great humanist Erasmus.

Somewhere along the way, I got interested in a more authentic pronunciation scheme. Since my main interest at that time was the New Testament, I read Randall Buth’s article on “Imperial Koiné” pronunciation with great interest, which can be found here.

Among the changes that had taken place by the NT period was the merging of the οι sound and υ sound. Erasmian pronounces οι like the oi in oil, and υ was originally like the German ü, or the french u in “tu.” But in the koiné, οι and υ and both were pronounced like ü. This has already been well established by inscriptions, but I found evidence in a rather unexpected place: the Syriac alphabet!

Syriac, like many Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, etc.), natively only includes a few vowels in its script proper. However, Syriac scribes did develop of system of vowels whereby vowels were placed over the consonants. Here are two images to illustrate a non vocalized, and then a vocalized word:

Screen Shot 2012 09 11 at 4 59 38 PM.

In the second image, the vowels are written above the letters. This word, in fact, is Syriac word for God, “alaha.”

In the West Syriac tradition, which you see above, the vowels were based on Greek. There are two different vowels in the second picture above, one is a short ‘a’ (the furthest right), and the other two are long ‘a.’ If you tilt them on their side, you can make out how they resemble an alpha. The long ‘a’ appears to resemble a minuscule alpha, while the short ‘a’ resemble a majuscule one.

Syriac has a long and short ‘e’ as well, and you can see them in the following words for ‘this’ (f.) and ‘Christ’:

Screen Shot 2012 09 11 at 5 08 50 PM(hode)

Screen Shot 2012 09 11 at 5 08 58 PM(msheeho)

The short ‘e’, visible in the shorter word above, resembles a majuscule ε if my memory serves, while the long ‘e’ a majuscule η. As always, you just have to rotate them a little bit.

The ‘o’ is a bit different, in that it is actually represented in the script proper, and a small dot is simply placed above the letter to indicate it should be read as a vowel. The ‘u’ though, I found puzzling at first. For example, here’s the word that means ‘Syriac’:
Screen Shot 2012 09 11 at 5 16 09 PM (Suryaya).

The ‘u’ is the right most in the word. Once my teacher wrote a few of the alternate forms on the board, it dawned on me that this was essentially the Greek pair οι. Rather than using something based on the original Greek vowel to make this sound υ (upsilon), they used οι (omicron iota), which by that time had long merged with υ. I suppose that’s not terribly surprising, considering οι is more common than υ in Greek. At any rate, it’s another small bit of evidence to demonstrate Greek pronunciation in the postclassical period.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

Things have been quiet around recently, most of which because I’ve been moving.  My wife and I have moved from Raleigh, NC to the DC area so that I can start graduate school in a few weeks.  Moving is a dreary task, but one made much nicer by our family’s help!

In a few hours, I’ll be boarding a plane to London, en route to Oxford for the 2012 Lincoln College Greek Palaeography Summer School.  I’m quite excited to take part in the school: I know I’ll learn much!  It’ll be my first time in the UK beyond Heathrow, and right on the tails of the Olympics.

Lack of blogging has also mean a lack of work on Origen.  I’m mainly been typesetting the homily right now, but the content is in fairly good shape for a draft.  You may find the draft here.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


I’ve not posted in quite some time, and I can’t really say that this post represents a return to frequent posts.  However, I came across some Chrysostom that was too good not to share.  As is customary, I give my translation and then the Greek.  Enjoy!

Do you see, then, how powerful are both prayer and petition?  They make men into temples of Christ!  Just as gold, precious stones, and marble make the houses of kings, so prayer creates temples of Christ. “That Christ,” he says, “may dwell in your hearts.”  What greater praise of prayer could ever be, than that it creates temples for God?  The one whom the heavens do not contain, this is the one who enters the living soul through prayers.  “‘The heaven is my throne,'” he says, “‘and the earth my footstool.  What type of house will you build for me?’ says the Lord. ‘Or what place of rest for me?'”  But nevertheless Paul builds him a house through his holy prayers.  He says, “I bend my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”  Indeed from that, one should know the power of holy prayers, since Paul, the one who ran as though with wings through the entire world, who made his residence in prison, who bore whips and chains, always living in blood and danger, who drove out demons and raised the dead, and who healed sicknesses, he trusted none of these things for the salvation of men, but defended the earth through his prayers, and after the signs and the raising of the dead, he ran again to prayers, just as an athlete returning to the training room right after receiving the crown.


And the Greek:

Ὁρᾷς, ὅσον ἰσχύει προσευχὴ καὶ δέησις; Ναοὺς Χριστοῦ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐργάζεται· καὶ ὥσπερ χρυσὸς, καὶ λίθοι πολυτίμητοι, καὶ μάρμαρα ποιοῦσι τοὺς οἴκους τῶν βασιλέων· οὕτω προσευχὴ ναοὺς τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Κατοικῆσαι, φησὶ, τὸν Χριστὸν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. Τί μεῖζον ἂν γένοιτο προσευχῆς ἐγκώμιον, ἢ ὅτι ναοὺς ἀπεργάζεται Θεοῦ; Ὃν οὐ χωροῦσιν οὐρανοὶ, οὗτος εἰς ψυχὴν εἰσέρχεται ζῶσαν ἐν προσευχαῖς. Ὁ οὐρανός μοι θρόνος, φησὶν, ἡ δὲ γῆ ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν μου. Ποῖον οἶκον οἰκοδομήσετέ μοι; λέγει Κύριος· ἢ τίς τόπος τῆς καταπαύσεώς μου; Ἀλλ’ ὅμως οἶκον ὁ Παῦλος οἰκοδομεῖ διὰ τῶν ἁγίων εὐχῶν. Κάμπτω, φησὶ, τὰ γόνατά μου πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα κατοικήσῃ ὁ Χριστὸς διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. Καὶ μὴν κἀκεῖθεν ἴδοι τις ἂν τὴν δύναμιν τῶν ἁγίων εὐχῶν, ὅτι Παῦλος ὁ διὰ πάσης τῆς οἰκουμένης ὥσπερ ὑπόπτερος τρέχων, καὶ δεσμωτήριον οἰκῶν, καὶ μάστιγας ὑπομένων, καὶ φορῶν ἅλυσιν, καὶ ζῶν ἐν αἵματι καὶ κινδύνοις, καὶ δαίμονας ἐλαύνων, καὶ νεκροὺς ἐγείρων, καὶ παύων ἀῤῥωστήματα, οὐδενὶ τούτων ἐθάῤῥησεν εἰς σωτηρίαν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀλλὰ ταῖς προσευχαῖς ἐτείχισε τὴν γῆν, καὶ μετὰ τὰ σημεῖα καὶ τὴν τῶν νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν, ἐπὶ τὰς προσευχὰς ἔτρεχεν, ὥσπερ τις ἀθλητὴς ἐπὶ παλαίστραν ἀπὸ στεφάνου.

John Chrysostom, De Precatione (PG 60.783)


Psa. 14:1 ¶ Ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυιδ.
Κύριε, τίς παροικήσει ἐν τῷ σκηνώματί σου
καὶ τίς κατασκηνώσει ἐν τῷ ὄρει τῷ ἁγίῳ σου;
Psa. 14:2 πορευόμενος ἄμωμος καὶ ἐργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνην,
λαλῶν ἀλήθειαν ἐν καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ,
Psa. 14:3 ὃς οὐκ ἐδόλωσεν ἐν γλώσσῃ αὐτοῦ
οὐδὲ ἐποίησεν τῷ πλησίον αὐτοῦ κακὸν
καὶ ὀνειδισμὸν οὐκ ἔλαβεν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἔγγιστα αὐτοῦ·
Psa. 14:4 ἐξουδένωται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ πονηρευόμενος,
τοὺς δὲ φοβουμένους κύριον δοξάζει·
ὁ ὀμνύων τῷ πλησίον αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἀθετῶν·
Psa. 14:5 τὸ ἀργύριον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔδωκεν ἐπὶ τόκῳ
καὶ δῶρα ἐπ᾿ ἀθῴοις οὐκ ἔλαβεν.
ὁ ποιῶν ταῦτα οὐ σαλευθήσεται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

τουτος ψαλμος ᾁδει του δικαιου, του εργαζομενου δικαιοσυνην. ὁ δικαιος ου ψευδος αλλα λαλει αλεθειαν. ου ποιει κακον τῳ πλησιον αυτου αλλα ποιει αγαθον. ενεκεν τουτου, το πλησιον αυτου αγαπᾳ αυτον. και ὁ δικαιος μισει πονηρον, αγαπᾳ δε τους αγαποντας κυριον. ὁ γαρ δικαιος ου μαρτυρει ψευδῶς ουτε διδωται αργυριον επι τοκῳ, κακος γαρ εισιν εν οφθαλμοις του κυριου. δικαιον Θεος εχει εν χειρει αυτου και ουκ σαλευθησεται ὁ δικαιος.

κυριε, θελω ειναι δικαιος. ουκ αξιος αλλα σὺ με εποιησεν δικαιος δια ὑιου σου. χρειαν εχω χαριτος σου οτι ου δυναμαι ειναι δικαιος ει μη χαριτι. μονον εστιν ἁγιον πνευμα. λατρευει με και ὑιος σου καταριζει με απο παντας αδικιας. ευχαριστω σοι, κυριε οτι αξιος εἶ. μεγας εἶ και δοξασω σε εν ψυχῃ μου. δυνασαι ποιειν παντα.



So now that I’m back working full time, I’m contemplating what my next Accordance purchase should be. I know I need to get BDAG: it is the standard Greek lexicon. I currently have the 2nd edition in print, but having the newest electronically would be quite handy. You get a discount when you get it bundled with HALOT (the standard Hebrew lexicon), but it would be strange for me to spend >$100 on a language I don’t know yet! I’m also contemplating getting the “Church Father and Church History” set.  It appears to be quite extensive, and even has Greek/Latin in the footnotes from what I can tell.  However, I’m afraid that the translations would be old and difficult to read, and that Greek/Latin would be difficult to access.  Still, it’s an impressive set.  Finally, I could add to my Greek collection with some works from people like Philo, Josephus, or the Greek pseudepigrapha.  The last sounds especially tempting….

I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting BDAG in some way.  Beyond that, any suggestions?


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