S. Ephraim's Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion and Bardaisan. Transcribed from the Palimpsest B.M. Add. 14623 by C. W. MITCHELL, M.A., volume 1 (1912). Introduction
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Folio 13b of the Palimpsest B.M. Add. 14623, inverted to show the underwriting.
[To face Title-page
S. EPHRAIM'S PROSE REFUTATIONS
OF WHICH THE GREATER PART HAS BEEN TRANSCRIBED FROM THE PALIMPSEST B.M. ADD. 14623 AND IS NOW FIRST PUBLISHED
FORMERLY RESEARCH STUDENT EMMANUEL COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
PUBLISHED FOR, THE TEXT AND TRANSLATION SOCIETY
WILLIAMS AND NORGATE
14, HENRIETTA STEEET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON,
AND 7, BROAD STREET, OXFORD
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
DUKE STREET, STAMFORD STREET, S.E., AND GREAT WINDMILL STREET, W.
THE work of which this volume contains the first two parts was begun when I held a Research Studentship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. It was then my intention to publish a translation of the fragments of S. Ephraim's prose refutation of the False Teachers, published by Overbeck ("S. Ephraemi Syri aliorumque opera selecta," pp. 21-73), and considered to be a valuable document for the history of early Manichaean teaching. In undertaking this I could not foresee that the work would extend over such a long period, or that it would, when complete, pass so far beyond the limits of my original plan. An unexpected enlargement of it has been made possible and has developed in the following way.
Before I had finished the translation of the Overbeck section, Professor Bevan, who had suggested the work, informed me that the remainder of Ephraim's Refutation was extant in the palimpsest B.M. Add. 14623. Wright's description of this manuscript did not encourage the hope that the underwriting could be deciphered. On p. 766 of the catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts he referred to it thus: "As stated above, the volume is palimpsest throughout, and the miserable monk Aaron deserves the execration of every theologian and Syriac scholar for having destroyed a manuscript of the sixth century written in three columns containing works of Ephraim . . ." These words not only state with emphasis Wright's opinion of the importance of the manuscript, but also suggest, I think, his fear that its original contents were lost. While I add, in passing, that they may also be taken to indicate the satisfaction which the recovery of that text would have brought him—a text of which he knew the first part intimately through his active share in the preparation of Overbeck's volume—, I may also venture to express here, by anticipation, the hope that, after the whole of the present work has been published, both Theology and Scholarship may consent to modify the severity of this verdict on ill-fated Aaron.
On examining this palimpsest of eighty-eight leaves, I found that the older writing on a few pages could be read with ease, on a good number of others with much difficulty; while in |2 each of these legible pieces there were more or less irrecoverable passages, and worst of all, only one side of the leaves could be read, except in two or three cases, though there was evidence that the writing was lurking in obscurity below.
I decided to edit as many of the pages as were fairly legible, and to publish them along with the translation which I have mentioned above. After I had worked at the palimpsest for a considerable time, my gleanings amounted to over thirty of its pages. But the illegibility of one side of the vellum, coupled with the confusion arising from the disturbance of the original order of the leaves and quires in the hands of the monk Aaron, made it impossible to arrange the deciphered pages so that they could be read consecutively. As they had been transcribed with tolerable completeness, most of them containing about a hundred manuscript lines, and as each page was a section from a genuine work of Ephraim against Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan, the Text and Translation Society undertook the expense of publishing them as isolated Fragments.
In 1908 the pages, grouped in the best way possible according to their subject-matter, began to be printed. Nearly one half of them had passed through the press when the work was unexpectedly stopped by a most fortunate turn of events. Dr. Barnett, Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts at the British Museum, began to apply a re-agent to the illegible portions of the palimpsest, and so wonderfully did its virtue revive the energies of the ancient ink, so distinctly did the underwriting show itself, here readily, there reluctantly, that it now became possible to transcribe almost the entire contents. In consequence, too, of his action, I was able to reconstruct the order of the leaves and quires, and to assign the former Fragments to their proper places in the original document.
It will thus not be difficult to see how these successive extensions of my first project prevented the appearance of the volume at the times promised. I feel, however, that the work has, in the meantime, gained so much in character and importance, that the facts which I have stated above will be a sufficient explanation to the members of the Text and Translation Society for what may have seemed vexatious delays. Instead of a text and translation of a collection of fragments, torn from their context, and suffering greatly from illegible gaps, this volume and that which is to follow it are now able to present to "the theologian and Syriac scholar" the text and translation of Ephraim's "Contra Haereses" approximately complete. The lacunae which still remain will not, I think, be found to affect seriously the elucidation of many passages of importance.
Even with the help of the re-agent, the work of transcribing |3 the palimpsest has been necessarily slow. Not to speak of the arduousness of the decipherer's task, which anyone who has had experience of such work will appreciate, there have been in the present case unusual difficulties owing to the fact that no other copy of the underwriting is extant. Such difficulties are inevitable when the decipherer's aim is not collation, but the recovery of a lost document. In a field of this kind pioneer work cannot go on rapidly ; for it constantly happens that advance is only possible by verifying and re-verify ing one's conjectures as to probable words and letters in passages which at first sight seem all but obliterated.
The time, moreover, which I have been able to devote to the work has been limited by my other duties, and has often been rendered still more scanty by the weather. Accurate deciphering is only possible under a good sunlight, and London has never claimed an abundance of this among her varied endowments. When bright days have been absent, in the interests of completeness and accuracy I have been obliged to postpone both transcribing and proof-correcting. For, however much the editor of such a work as the present may hope, for the sake of mistakes which he may have allowed to creep in, that he may not be transcribing e's act, yet he must feel that, as the writing soon fades back to that underworld from which it has recently emerged only after a thousand unbroken years of obscurity, there is laid upon him a special responsibility to attain finality in transcription. At the same time, he is aware that there comes a temptation to linger too frequently and painfully over sparse after-gleanings. Perhaps I have sometimes erred in this respect, but at any rate I feel that this edition presents a maximum of text recoverable from the palimpsest, and I have no hope that the lacunae can be filled by a more prolonged study of it.
I have tried to make a literal translation, and for the sake of clearness have introduced marginal summaries. The difficulty of the Syriac of the published fragment of the second Discourse was formerly noted by Nöldeke (ZDMG for 1889, p. 543), and the remainder of the work is written in the same style.
In the next volume containing Parts III. and IV.—the latter of which is now being printed—there will appear the text and translation of an unedited work of Ephraim, called "Of Domnus." It consists of Discourses against Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan, and a Hymn on Virginity. The Discourses against Bardaisan are remarkable as showing the influence of the Platonists and the Stoics around Edessa.
In the third volume, Part V., I shall endeavour to collect, arrange, and interpret the evidence derived from the first two volumes for the teaching of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan. In that |4 connection notes will be found on special points, e.g., the references to the Hymn of the Soul, Vol. i, pp. lxxxix., cv.-cvii.; BÂN the Builder, p. xxx.; BOLOS, p. lxxii.; HULE, p. xcix. f.; Mani's Painting, p. xcii.; the Gospel quotations, e.g. pp. xc., c. Part V. will also contain indices for the whole work.
Throughout the first volume Ephraim directs his main attack against the teaching of Manichaeism—'perhaps the most formidable rival that the Church has encountered in the whole course of her history.' If that system ultimately failed on the favourable soil of Syria, its defeat must have been in some measure hastened by the weapons forged by Ephraim, and stored up in these Discourses to Hypatius, to be used by others in proving that Manichaeism could not justify itself intellectually to the Syrian mind.
I could wish to make my recognition of Professor Bevan's help as ample as possible. In editing the text, in conjectural emendations, and, above all, in the translation, I have had his constant and generous assistance. Throughout the work I have received from him encouragement and help of the most practical kind. For its final form, of course I alone am responsible.
I desire to express my thanks to Dr. Barnett, who has taken the greatest pains to restore the Manuscript to legibility, and who by his courtesy and kindness has greatly facilitated my progress with this work. I am also deeply grateful to Dr. Burkitt, who has given me advice and many suggestions ; and to my colleagues the Rev. F. Conway and Mr. C. E. Wade for help on certain points.
To the Text and Translation Society, who undertook the publication of the work, and to the Managers of the Hort Fund for two grants in connection with it, I beg here to offer my sincere thanks.
C. W. MITCHELL.
MERCHANT TAYLORS' SCHOOL,
|TRANSLATION OF THE FIVE DISCOURSES||i-cxix|
|SYRIAC TEXT OF DISCOURSES II-V||1-185|
|PLATE I||To face Title-page|
|PLATE II||To face p. (4)|
Two manuscripts—B.M. Add. 14570 and B.M. Add. 14574— have preserved the First Discourse. The first of these is fully described in Wright's Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts, pp. 406-7. This small volume contains as well a Discourse of Ephraim "On our Lord." It is written in a small elegant Estrangela of the fifth or sixth century, and each page is divided into two columns. On the first page there is a note stating that this was one of the two hundred and fifty volumes brought to the convent of S. Mary Deipara by the Abbot Moses of Nisibis, A.D. 932.
As regards the other manuscript, only the part of it numbered DXXXV by Wright, and described on pp. 407-8, requires mention here. Its nineteen leaves are "written in a fine regular Estrangela of the VIth century," each page being divided into three columns with from 34 to 38 lines to each. They contain not only the First Discourse but a fragment of the Second, (Overbeck, pp. 59-73) and originally belonged to the palimpsest Add. 14623, of which they formed the first nineteen leaves. Along with the eighty-eight leaves of this palimpsest, to which reference has already been made in the Preface, they formed a volume containing "To Hypatius" and "Of Domnus," two works which Ephraim intended to be his great refutation of the False Teachings. It thus becomes evident that the text of Discourses II-V, edited in Part ii., pp. 1-185, is really derived from a single manuscript, although, according to the Catalogue, the nineteen leaves and the palimpsest portion appear under different numbers.
When this sixth-century volume was rendered a palimpsest by |3 the monk Aaron, c. A.D. 823, fortunately the above-mentioned fragments—its first nineteen leaves—'escaped his ruthless hands.' But the surface of the remaining eighty-eight leaves suffered a ruinous transformation through his zealous attempt to remove the writing, and the treated vellum was re-arranged into new quires. The long list of works which the renovated codex was destined to contain can be seen on pages 464-7 of the Catalogue.
The two plates, one facing the title-page, the other opposite this page, show the present appearance of the manuscript. They have been reproduced from photographs of both sides of folio 13, which is a fair specimen of the leaves. It will.be noticed that the underwriting on the first plate is fairly clear, while that on the second plate showing the other side of the same leaf is, except for the title, completely illegible. The text of both has been transcribed with the help of the re-agent. The photographs have lost somewhat in distinctness in the process of reproduction.
On folio 88b there are two notes of interest in connection with the history of this palimpsest (CSM, p. 766). From the first we learn that Aaron was a Mesopotamian monk, a native of Dara, and that he wrote his manuscript in the Thebaid of Egypt. His date given above shows that Add. 14623 is one of the earliest palimpsests in the Nitrian Collection. Another note on the same page states that the volume was presented with nine others to the convent of S. Mary Deipara, by Isaac, Daniel and Solomon, monks of the Syrian convent of Mar Jonah in the district of Maris or Mareia. A.D. 851-859.
The manuscript was brought from the Nitrian desert by Archdeacon Tattam, and has been in the British Museum since March, 1843.
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Folio 13a of the Palimpsest B.M. Add. 14623, inverted to show the underwriting.
[To face p. (4)
At the head of the First Discourse in B.M. Add. 14574, the following title is found : "Letters of the Blessed Ephraim, arranged according to the letters of the alphabet, against the False Teachings." On this Wright remarked that although the words "arranged according to the letters of the alphabet" appear to imply that there were originally twenty-two of these Discourses, following one another like those of Aphraates in the order of the Syriac alphabet, yet this "seems unlikely as the second Discourse begins with the letter p" (CSM, p. 408).
The exact meaning of the words remained obscure till Professor Burkitt, after examining the palimpsest portion of the work, showed that it consisted of five Discourses arranged acrostically in the order of the five letters of the author's name. He also observed that "a similar method of signature is actually used by Ephraim in the Hymn added at the end of the Hymns on Paradise (Overbeck, p. 351 ff.), the several stanzas of which begin with the letters m Y r p ) " (Texts and Studies, vol. vii-2, pp. 73, 74).
The decipherment of the palimpsest makes it possible to complete Professor Burkitt's evidence (op. cit. p. 74) thus :—
The First Discourse begins mYrp) ) The Second Discourse begins tY)$wrp The Third Discourse begins Yl)gr r The Fourth Discourse begins xrY Y The Fifth Discourse begins )tOM$M M
SHOWING THE RELATION OF PRIMITIVE QUIRES TO THE MODERN ARRANGEMENT
|Quire and Leaf||Quire and Leaf|
|I||Original order preserved in B.M. Add. 14574|
|II||Original order preserved in B.M. Add. 14574|
|B.M. Add. 14623|
|The rest of the Quire belongs||||||||||
|to Vol. II|
GIVING THE TRANSCRIBED LEAVES OF THE PALIMPSEST ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF THEIR NUMBERING IN THE CATALOGUE, AND THE PAGES OF THE PRESENT VOLUME ON WHICH THE TEXT OF EACH LEAF BEGINS
|Folio 9||begins on page||33||Folio 17||begins on page||59|
|Folio 25||begins on page||103||Folio 37||begins on page||173|
|32||belongs to Vol. II||44||"||120|
|33||begins on page||137||45||belongs to Vol. II|
|34||"||124||46||begins on page||129|
|THE FIRST DISCOURSE||pp. i-xxviii|
|THE SECOND DISCOURSE||pp. xxix-l|
|THE THIRD DISCOURSE||pp. li-lxxiii|
|THE FOURTH DISCOURSE||pp. lxxiv-xci|
|THE FIFTH DISCOURSE||pp. xcii-cxix|
[Short lacunae are indicated in the translation by dots, and longer gaps by asterisks, but in neither case is the number of the dots or asterisks intended to bear any exact relation to the number of the missing words. In respect to this an approximately correct inference may be drawn by consulting the Syriac text.
Double inverted commas mark quotations where the original has [Syriac]
Single inverted commas are used in numerous cases where the words seem to be quotations or to belong to a special terminology.
Words in italics inside square brackets are to be regarded as conjectural translations or paraphrases.
In a few passages, where the text has suffered great mutilation, italics indicate an attempt to summarise the argument from suggestions in the fragments.]
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, September 2002. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, Syriac using the SPEdessa font, both free from here.
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