Nathan Eubank’s most recent article in JBL is awesome. His idea that one should take into account the interpretation of a particular passage in the early Church when considering text-critical issues is insightful.
You can read other things written by Nathan at Duke Newt, who posts there along with other Duke NT folks.
In my “Early Christian Latin Texts” course, we were assigned a few pages of a random Latin text to translate, identify, and discuss. Mine turned out to be the ending of Rufinus’ Commentarius in Symbolum Apostolorum, specifically where he’s discussing the resurrection of the flesh. He goes through various arguments, then gets into 1 Corinthians 15. Quoting 1 Cor. 15.51, he says:
Ecce mysterium vobis dico: omnes quidem resurgemus, non omnes autem immutabimur (sive, ut aliis exemplaribus invenimus: omnes quidem non dormiemus, omnes autem immutabimur).
“Behold, I speak to you a mystery: we all will rise, but we will not all be changed (or, as we have found in other manuscripts: we will not all sleep (die), but we will all be changed).”
Rufinus’ first reading agrees with Codex Bezae’s reading, which replaces the Greek “οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα” (we will not all sleep/die) with “οὐ ἀναστησόμεθα” (we will not all rise). He notes, however, that he’s aware of manuscripts which read like most of our Greek NTs do today- “we will not all sleep/die, but we will all be changed.”
If I remember correctly, I don’t think the critical apparatus in the NA-27 listed Rufinus as a witness to the alternative reading.
These are the things I think about when not translating or reading…
My Latin vocabulary is admittedly very weak. I think I’m good with morphology, but my vocab has always been my weak spot – and that means that translations which should not take me that long take me a very long time, because I live in the lexicon. As I found out a few weeks ago that I have to take my Latin final without a lexicon, I’ve been trying to cram as much vocabulary into my head as possible. I created a vocabulary deck of the 1400 most common Latin words and I study a set of 75 throughout the day. I have it on my computer and my iPod touch, so I can study a few here and there while I’m eating lunch or walking around campus.
I’m happy to say that this has paid off. I sat down tonight to read Augustine and only had to look up a word here and there – a far cry from what I was doing even just a month ago. This isn’t bragimony – I just want to encourage anyone who feels discouraged about learning Latin (or any other language) to be hopeful and hunker down on learning some vocab because it makes a world of difference.
It’s looking as though I’ll be taking the following:
Medieval Latin Survey – This is once again with Dr. Müller and will cover a variety of Medieval Latin texts.
Cicero, Augustine, and Rhetoric – This is another Latin course taught by Dr. Krostenko. The course title pretty much says it all – we’re going to be translating and discussing works from Cicero and Augustine and discussing Cicero’s impact on Augustine. With two Latin courses next semester, I’ll either die by Latin or come out a pretty good Latinist.
Thucydides – I’m taking this course with Dr. Baron. Fairly straightforward – we’ll be translating Thucydides. I’ve read a little Thucydides already, but it will be good to really dig in and read a fair amount of his work.
Roman History Seminar – This is taught by Dr. Bradley. This won’t be the typical Roman History seminar in that Dr. Bradley likes to focus on things that are often ignored (non-literary sources). I’ve heard he assigns a fair amount of reading, but I figure it would be unwise for me to come to ND and not take a course with Dr. Bradley, so here goes.
And it looks as though I’ll be TAing again for the same professor, this time for the freshman level “Greek and Roman Mythology.” I’m looking forward to it – whereas this semester we read the Iliad and Works and Days, next semester we get to read the Odyssey and Theogony, the latter two being my favorites.
For my Christian Latin course, we were given a random passage consisting of several pages of Latin from some Christian author. We are to translate it, identify it, provide a bibliography for it, etc. Because I never assume the text is wrong and that anything that doesn’t make sense is due to my poor Latin abilities, I spent hours (I wish I were kidding) stressing over this sentence:
illos scilicet, qui iam nunc conservam animae suae carnem castis pudicitiae frenis in oboedientiam Sancti Spiritus subiugaverint…
This “conservam” made no sense to me. “Conservam” means “a female slave” and I couldn’t figure out why Rufinus (this is part of his Commentary on the Apostle’s Creed) was suddenly talking about a female slave. And why are there two accusative nouns? So, I looked at it, I read it over and over. I tried to find tertiary meanings for every word in the phrase. No luck.
The thought occurred to me to check a different text. This one comes from Corpus Christianorum, so I checked Migne. Lo and behold, Migne reads
illos scilicet, qui jam nunc conservantes animae suae carnem in castis pudicitiae actibus, obedentiae Sancti Spiritus subjugaverunt.
There are a few differences, but the big one is “conservantes” which is a participle from “conservo” which here means “to preserve.” So now instead of some nonsense about a female slave, I have “those who even now are preserving the flesh of their soul by the pure harnesses of chastity…”
What I don’t understand about the Corpus Christianorum text is that it lists “conservant” (which would make sense) and “conservantes” in the textual apparatus. Why in the world would you publish an impossible reading when you have two much better choices in your textual apparatus?
Go here and download these awesome volumes for free. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the Loeb series. It’s great to have Latin and Greek texts available at an affordable price, but it’s awful when one uses the English translation instead of doing it themselves. The Loeb series has prompted one of my favorite Greek verbs – λοεβίζομαι (I use the Loeb for myself).