BISHOP OF CAESAREA
OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST,
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH NOTES, FROM AN ANCIENT SYRIAC VERSION OF THE GREEK ORIGINAL NOW LOST ; TO WHICH IS PREFIXED A VINDICATION OF THE ORTHODOXY, AND PROPHETICAL VIEWS, OF THAT DISTINGUISHED WRITER.
INSCRIBED BY PERMISSION TO
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND,
CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.
BY SAMUEL LEE, D.D.
D.D. OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HALLE; MEMBER OF THE SOCIÉTÉ ASIATIQUE OF PARIS; OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF RHODE ISLAND, AMERICA; CANON OF BRISTOL, RECTOR OF BARLEY, HERTS., REGIUS PROFESSOR OF HEBREW IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, &c.
PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS
DUNCAN AND MALCOLM, 37, PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.
TO HIS GRACE
HUGH DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND,
&c. &c. &c.
CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, THIS ENDEAVOUR TO RESTORE TO THE Christian Church A LONG LOST WORK, AND TO VINDICATE THE OPINIONS, OF ONE OF ITS MOST LEARNED AND LABORIOUS PRELATES, IS, IN TESTIMONY OF A DEEP SENSE OF OBLIGATION FOR THE MANY MUNIFICENT FAVOURS CONFERRED ON THE UNIVERSITY, IN WHICH HE HAS THE HONOUR OF BEARING OFFICE, BY HIS GRACE'S PERMISSION, MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED, BY THE TRANSLATOR AND EDITOR.
HAVING now to discharge the very agreeable duty of presenting to the Christian Church (in a translation), a long lost work of one of its most learned and laborious Pastors, my first duty will be, to give the best account I can of this Work ; my second, to describe the Manuscript from which it has been taken ; my third, to lay down the principles by which I have been guided, both in editing the Syriac text of this Manuscript, and in making and illustrating my English Translation of it. When I shall have done these things, I shall,--because some of the opinions of my author have been branded as heretical, and some others will in all probability be considered as groundless and untenable, I mean those which contain his views on Prophecy,--give as brief and candid a review of these opinions as I can : leaving it to the reader to make the conclusions for himself, which he shall deem right and just.
I am well aware of the responsibility attaching itself to an undertaking so perilous, as that of offering to the learned of Europe, for the first time, a work coming from a man so learned, so celebrated, and so often eulogized and condemned, as was the Bishop of Caesarea and Father of Church History. But, for the purpose of satisfying this responsibility to the best of my power, I now proceed, in the first place, to give all the account I can of the Work which I have the honour and pleasure of presenting to the public.
The first, and probably the only, mention of this Work which occurs in any ancient Father of the Church, is to be found in the catalogue of Ecclesiastical Writers' by |4 Jerome. And in this, all that this Father says,--after speaking of some of Eusebius's other works,--is, "qeofanei/aj libri quinque," i. e. Of the Divine Manifestation, five books. After him, Suidas says "qeofanei/aj lo&goi e/," which is a mere echo of the words of Jerome. Harles, in his edition of the Bibliotheca Graeca of Fabricius, speaks of it in this manner. (Vol. vii. p. 408). "Eu0aggelikh_ qeofa&neia, bis citatur in catena in Lucam in cod. Vindobon. caesareo xlii., teste Lambecio comment, tom. iii. p. 166. not. 4. conf. supra nr. 8. Harl".--" Fragmentum ex Eusebii opere deperd. Theophania Evang. e cod. Coislin. Gött. 1740. 4". And again, p. 395, nr. 8, speaking of the work of our author against Marcellus, he says: " Hos quinque Libros adversus Marcellum Labbeus putat innui ab Hieronymo in Catalogo cap. 81. et Suida, quando inter Eusebii Scripta memorat libros quinque peri\ qeofanei/aj. Videtur enim hoc idem illi esse quod qeofanei/aj. Sed id tamquam incertum omitto, quum Hebed Jesu quoque in catalogo Librorum Chaldaicorum memorat Eusebii librum de ortu divino"
The Catalogue of Hebed Jesu, here referred to, will be found in the Bibliotheca Orientalis of Asseman, tom. iii. pt. 1, and the place in p. 18 of this: where, after speaking of the Ecclesiastical History of our author, Hebed Jesu says, [Syriac], i. e. and the Book on the Divine Manifestation. Asseman refers us, in a note, to Cave's Historia Literaria, p. 95, where mention is made of this work of Eusebius, entitled peri\ qeofanei/aj, libri quinque; but Cave tells us nothing more about it, than that it is a work not now extant.
But the thing most worthy of remark here, is Asseman's referring us to Cave at all; when, if the work had existed in the Library of the Vatican, he would, in all probability, as he has done in many other places, have given us a detailed description of it. It may be added that, although Asseman has given us very extensive lists, in this work, of |5 Syriac books deposited in the Vatican, he has never once spoken of this as being there. And the same might be said, with respect to the present very learned librarian of the Vatican, who has, in his erudite and laborious work entitled, "Scriptorum Veterum nova Collectio," said much, and edited some works, of Eusebius, and even given several fragments from our Theophania; yet he has nowhere informed us, that either the Greek text, or the Syriac version, of this Work is to be found there. I may perhaps conclude therefore, that it is not known to exist in that library.
The Citations as noted above in Fabricius, will be found in the following Work, pages 216, 321-2. The Fragment printed at Göttingen in 1740, also mentioned by him, will be either reprinted or noticed hereafter in this Work, if it can be obtained before the last sheet goes to press.
It must be evident, I think, from what has now been said, that the work of our author entitled the Ecclesiastical Theology, noticed above, could not be the same with that entitled the Theophania, or Evangelical Theophania,--for by this latter title is our Work designated in the Catena of Vienna:--while it must be equally certain, that a work by Eusebius bearing the title assigned to it by Jerome, did exist in the Syrian Church : and, as no reason can perhaps be assigned why the Syrians should forge such a work, it is probable, that this is the very work so described by Jerome.
Again, from the fragments of this Work hitherto brought to our notice, (see the places referred to above,) it seems sufficiently certain, that this is the work of Eusebius so described by Jerome. I would add, let the reader also examine in the following pages, the very many places marked as corresponding word for word, with several in the undoubted productions of our author. In our Second Book, for example, a very considerable number of the Sections or Paragraphs, are found to be identically the same with many |6 occurring in the "Oratio de laudibus Constantini:" while in our Fifth Book, the far greater part is also found word for word in the " Demonstratio Evangelica;" not to insist on several others, found either in the "Praeparatio Evangelica," the Ecclesiastical History, or some other work of our author, as shewn in the Notes.
There are also certain peculiarities in the writings of Eusebius which may be mentioned here; they are these: It is customary with him, though not constantly, to commence a subsequent book with the matter, and occasionally with the words, which closed the preceding one. The close and commencement of the First and Second, and of the Second and Third books, respectively, of the "Praeparatio Evangelica" will supply examples of this; as will the corresponding ones of our following Work, and more particularly those of the Fourth and Fifth.
To this may be added the Style of Eusebius, which is universally allowed to be any thing but simple and obvious. His periods are often long, and his style both inverted and involved. He seems moreover, to have been studious to avoid the language in common use, and often to have be-iaken himself to that peculiar to the poets. This latter consideration could not have affected our original text, which is only a translation; while the former has, to a very considerable extent. For our Translator, anxious to shew himself faithful in the discharge of this his duty, has so closely followed his original by endeavouring to render it word for word, that his translation may occasionally be considered as obscurity personified ; the Syriac very ill admitting of either inversion, or involution, of style. Several instances of this sort,--to which many more might have been added,--will be found in the Notes attached to the English Translation. Another consideration is, his Platonic manner of speaking of the Deity as a self-existing Being, and with reference to which, no other can be said (properly) to exist, |7 of which we shall speak more particularly a little farther on. His manner of speaking of the Son has too its peculiarities; His being God of God, begotten of God, proceeding from the Father; hence complete, and in all respects like Him; His having ever been, and still being, with, and in, the Father ; extending Himself nevertheless throughout all things, and meekly lowering Himself to converse with men, and the like ; which will be more particularly noticed hereafter. His occasional allusions moreover to the things passing under his own eyes, as the sufferings of the Martyrs (p. 50) ; the state of the Church of Caesarea over which he presided, may all be considered, I think, as genuine evidences that Eusebius was the author of this Work ; and to these may be added his reasoning generally after the manner of Plato, and in many instances, his adopting the terms used by that philosopher.
From these considerations, I think it must be sufficiently evident, that our Work is a copy of the genuine Greek work of Eusebius, so long lost.--But if not, let it be supposed for a moment that it is a forgery, and that some Syrian was the author of it, who, the better to secure its reception, attached the name of Eusebius to it. I would now ask, Where are we to look for the man, among the writers of the Syrian Church, equal to this task ? Philoxenus of Mabug, and Jacob of Edessa1, had, no doubt, ability sufficient to compose a work on the same subject; but neither of them, |8 nor yet any other Syrian writer, of which I have any knowledge, had any thing like the vigour and learning evinced in this. Much less likely is it, that in such an attempt the Syriac language would have been subjected to the unnatural contortions and involutions so visible in this Work, or that it would be found to have copied Eusebius word for word, to the extent noticed above.
Nor is it in any degree probable, that such an imposition could ever have been practised upon the learned of the Syrian Church. Besides, the original of the Theophania must have been in existence when this Syriac work first made its appearance, and indeed for a long time after; which would have effectually given the lie to any attempt of this sort had it been made. And to this, its unquestioned reception in the Syrian Church, affords full and sufficient testimony.
Having then disposed of this question, let us now approach our second, which is to give some account of the Manuscript from which our Work has been taken.
Sometime in the year 1839, the Rev. Henry Tattam of Bedford, who is an excellent Coptic scholar, formed the resolution of visiting Egypt for the purpose of procuring Coptic manuscripts, in order to complete, if possible, an edition of the Coptic Scriptures. At the suggestion of his friends a subscription was set on foot, for the purpose of assisting in defraying the expense of this undertaking, and this subscription was headed by a contribution of £300. by government. Individuals contributed to a small extent: and Mr. Tattam accordingly set out for Egypt. In a short time he returned, having procured some good Coptic manuscripts, of which a list has been printed and circulated; and also about 50 volumes of Syriac manuscripts2, some of which were of an extreme age, and very valuable. |9
These manuscripts Mr. Tattam sent to me, with the request that I would give him some account of their contents ; and, at the same time, say what I thought their value might be: which I did as soon as my other engagements would allow. It was in looking over these manuscripts that I had the extreme pleasure of discovering that of which the following Work is a translation. Knowing then, as I did, the extreme rarity of this Work; in other words, that no other copy of it was known to exist, I requested Mr. Tattam to allow me to take a copy of it before it should leave my hands, in order that the Work might not be lost, whatever might happen to this MS. Mr. Tattam, with the disinterestedness for which he is so remarkable, instantly gave his consent, allowing me moreover to retain the MS. as long as I might want it: and, although he soon after disposed of the collection generally to the trustees of the British Museum, he was so obliging as to make this stipulation, that I should be allowed to retain this MS. as long as I might deem it necessary.
My first business now was, to make a correct copy of this very rare and valuable Codex, as far as our work was |10 concerned ; and I accordingly copied it out myself with all the expedition I could command. Soon after I had done this, I applied to the Society lately established in the Metropolis for printing Oriental Texts, requesting they would print it, and thus multiply the copies, so as to ensure the safety and permanency of the work. To this request the Committee of that society very graciously acceded. The work was accordingly put to press, and printed by Mr. Richard Watts, a tradesman long and well known for his ability in printing Oriental works generally3. In his hands it had moreover the advantage of being printed in a Syriac type, which was made some years ago under my own inspection, for the purpose of printing a Syriac Bible for the use of the Syrian churches in Malabar. I will add here, that during the passing of the sheets through the press, I collated every one of them with the MS., so that I do trust the Syriac text, now some time completed, will be found as neatly and correctly printed, as the greatest care on the part of both the editor and printer could be expected to insure.
The MS. containing our Work, is very neatly written in the Estrangelo, or old Church-hand-writing of the Syrians, on very fine and well prepared skin. It is of the size of large quarto, each folio measuring about 14˝ inches by 11˝, and containing three columns each of the width of 2ž inches, as may be seen in the fac simile prefixed to this Work. The exterior margins average 2˝ inches in width, the interior 1ź; and the space between the several columns is about 5/8 of an inch. The MS. contains 245 folios; 71 of the first of which contain a Syriac translation of the Recognitions of St. Clement, as they are called. The 83 |11 next following, the work of Titus Bishop of Bostra4, (or Bozrah) against the Manicheans ; the next 76 folios contain our Work of Eusebius ; the next 14, Eusebius's account of the Martyrs of Palestine, as published in the 8th book of his Ecclesiastical History ; and the last folio, Encomiums on their excellencies, entitled, [syriac]. This last work is incomplete, some leaves having been lost from the end of the MS., and on this account the original date of the MS. has not come down to us in its close, as is usually the case.
We have nevertheless on the reverse of the fourth folio, after the conclusion of our Work, written on the outside margin of one of the folios of the Tract on the Martyrs of Palestine, the following Inscription in a bold, but rather unsightly hand, and in the common Peschito character ;
See, my brethren, if the latter part of this ancient book has been cut off, and has perished together with that (with) which its writer closed and completed it ; it was thus written at its end, viz. that "This book was written in the city |12 of Edessa of Mesopotamia, by the hands of a man named Jacob, in the year seven hundred and twenty and three, (and) was completed in the month of the latter Teshrin." (February). And, just as that which was written there, I have also written here without addition. And the things which are here, I wrote in the year 1398, in the (aera) of the Greeks (i. e. the Seleucidae).
If then we are to take the first of these dates, as given in the aera of the Seleucidae, and this Note as containing a true statement respecting the age of our MS., A. D. 411 will be its date, and its age 1432 years ! The date of this Note is, we are told, that of the Greeks (or Seleucidae), that is, A. D. 1398, corresponding to A.D. 1086, just 757 years ago, when, as its author tells us, this manuscript was such as to merit the appellation of ancient!
I was once inclined to think that our MS. could not be so old as this first date made it, and that the year 723, must be that of our common aera; which would give 1120 years for its age; and that this, both from the appearance of the MS., and from some other considerations, was nearer the truth. Yet I must confess, as I have never seen, or heard of, a Syriac MS. bearing a date in our common aera; and, as all Syriac MSS. said to be written at Edessa, do,--as far as I know,--always bear dates according to the aera of the Seleucidae; I do not see how this date can be given in our common aera.
As to the appearance of the MS., although it certainly is in very perfect and clean condition, yet as the climate of Egypt, in which it has been kept probably for many centuries, is extremely dry, it is by no means impossible that the fresh appearance of the MS. is anything more than the nature of the case requires. There certainly are MSS. in the same collection bearing a date, making them but little short of 1300 years old, and yet appearing in quite as sound a state of preservation as this does, but which, as written on |13 skins of a description greatly inferor to this, do not present so clean and bright an appearance. Asseman too, gives us an account of a Syriac MS. of a gospel, preserved in the library of the Vatican, which was written in the year of our Lord 78 5 : and this he affirms was, in his day,--about 100 years ago,--as plain and perfect as ever it was.
From this it should seem, that it is impossible to say how long a MS. written on good skin and well preserved may endure; and consequently, how unsafe it is to pronounce positively on the age of any MS., merely from its appearance. The colour of the ink must in all such MSS. as Montfaucon and others have well remarked, necessarily have faded ; but to what precise extent, it must, as before, remain undefined for many reasons. The ink in our MS. is so faded though not, I think, to so great an extent as is observable in the Beza MS. at Cambridge. But this might have been occasioned by the place, or manner, in which that MS. was preserved, which was apparently less favourable than that of ours. This question therefore, I am disposed to leave in the state of uncertainty, in which I found it.
I said, in my Preface to the Syriac edition of our Work, that the MS. from which it was taken was, probably not less than a thousand years old. I was not then aware that |14 a date was to be found in it. I am not sorry however to find, that I had greatly underrated its age, as this must be a good evidence to my readers, that I had no disposition to exaggerate.
It may be suggested however, that this very early date might be that of the MS. from which it, or some other prior to it, was copied: it being no uncommon thing with copyists to transcribe, with MSS. which they copy, their dates also; so that a MS. of very modern date, may, in its epi-graphe, carry with it one of the highest antiquity. To this I would answer: If we are to ascribe any credit to the Note given above, this MS. must have been considered an ancient one 757 years ago: and to such a MS. we cannot, perhaps, ascribe an age less than 600 or 700 years: if we take the least of these, the age of our Codes will be 1357 years: if the greatest, 1457 : while the date, actually ascribed to it by the Note, makes it 1432 years old, just twenty-five years less than this last computation would make.
There are however some considerations, which would at first sight seem to prove the contrary, and which indeed operated forcibly on my mind in this way, when the very early date given to our MS. first occurred to me: they are these: First, Eusebius died about A.D. 340. If then our MS. was written A. D. 411, this must have happened 71 years only after the death of the author of the original Greek work. We shall now have therefore 71, or a few more years, for the period within which our Syriac translation was made, and, as it appears to me, must have been copied6 out several times |15 before our MS. could have been written; which might seem too little. I see no reason however, why this Work of Eusebius,--which must have been a popular one,--could not have been translated into Syriac very soon after it was published : and if so, the Syriac version might have been copied out times innumerable, before the date of our MS.
When the school of Edessa was first founded, I have not been able to discover. It is certain however that it was, and had been, a considerable time in vigorous operation before A. D. 411, the date assigned to our MS7. Our Work might therefore have been translated into the Syriac at Edessa, even during the lifetime of its author, or at least early enough to have allowed of our MS. being copied there in A.D. 411, after innumerable copies had been taken from the autograph of the translator, and from one another.
But there are, I think, better reasons for supposing that our translation was not made at Edessa at this early period, but rather in Palestine. We are told by Asseman (l. c. p. CMXXV.), that there were, both at Caesarea and at |16 Scythopolis, (the Bethshan of the Old Testament) in Palestine, schools of sacred literature; and that at Scythopolis the business of interpreting from the Greek into the Syriac language, was vigorously carried on; and, that to this fact our author himself has given his testimony8: as also have both Socrates and Sozomen the historians.
If this may be relied on, it is not improbable that our translation was made during the lifetime of Eusebius, and it might be under his inspection, and that of Patrophilus who was then Bishop of Scythopolis. And I think there are certain peculiarities of language in it, tending to shew that it was not made at Edessa, which are these: We never find the form of the feminine plural in verbs9, as we constantly do in the works of Ephrem, Jacob of Edessa, and other writers of that school. The pronoun of the first |17 person plural is rather of the Hebrew, than the Syriac, form. The pronominal forms, [Syriac], never occur in the language of Edessa; nor does the adverbial [Syriac], nor the impersonal [Syriac], nor the combination [Syriac] in the sense of immediately, nor the occasional redundancy, and even defect, of the relative pronoun [Syriac] , as far as my knowledge goes: all of which will be found marked in the Notes. I am therefore inclined to believe, that our translation was not made at Edessa, but in Palestine.
The language of this translation,--allowing for the instances just mentioned,--appears to me to be the purest Syriac10, and such as might be well expected in a work of so ancient a date. I have already remarked, that its order is very greatly inverted, and its collocation involved, from its having been made servilely to follow the Greek original. Of this any one will satisfy himself, by comparing any of its sections with the places pointed out, as found in Greek, in some of the still existing works of Eusebius : which,-- although it has had the effect of giving me a great deal of trouble, as it will any reader of the Syriac text,--is nevertheless a circumstance of infinite value in other respects; and particularly, as it has preserved to our times a most exact copy of an original Greek work of our author, which has, no doubt, been long ago lost.
There is another advantage arising from the circumstance of so much of this work's being still found in the |18 Greek of its author, which is this; we are hence enabled to judge of the extent of Greek learning possessed by the translator. And this, I am induced to believe, was very considerable. I have pointed out in my notes, some instances in which I think he has erred; I am nevertheless bound to say, that I believe his translation to be, upon the whole, quite as accurate as are the best translations hitherto published of the Greek works of Eusebius.
It has been stated above, that our MS. is written neatly and correctly for the most part, and in the ancient character termed Estranghelo. I have now to say that it is entirely without vowel marks, and that the interpunctuation is frequently such, as to supply nothing whatever towards a just conception of the construction of the text. That the Syrians had a system of interpunctuation answering, in some respects, to that afforded by the accents of the Hebrew Bible, I have no doubt; yet I must say, that hitherto this has not been satisfactorily developed. Mr. Ewald has indeed endeavoured to do this, in a work published at Gottingen in 1832, entitled "Abhandlungen zur Orientalischen und Biblischen Literatur;" in which, at p. 103 and following, he has treated on the "accentuationssystem" of the Syrians according to some MSS. found in the Royal Library at Paris; and this, I have no doubt, he has done with all good fidelity. Yet I must say, the system made out by him, receives but very little countenance from any ancient MS. hitherto seen by me. The older writers seem to have adopted a system much more simple, and less encumbered with marks ; the more modern ones, particularly the Maronites,--to whom we owe the interpunctuation of the greater Polyglotts,--appear to me to be the real authors of his system. However this may be, all I have done in printing our Syriac text has been, to follow the MS. as closely as I possibly could; I say this, because cases occur in which it is scarcely possible to say, whether the Copyist intended the |19 point to stand on the line of the text, above it, or below it. Some remarks will be found, in my notes, on the use of Ribbui, ( [Syriac] ) the mark commonly attending the plural number in nouns, and occasionally in verbs, in which our MS. seems to be singular. In this case too, I have rigidly adhered to the MS.
The rules, under which I have proceeded in making my translation from the Syriac, are the following. As I professed to undertake the office of a translator, and not of a commentator, I thought it right to confine myself as closely to my original, as the nature of the case and my best endeavours would enable me. If therefore, I have followed my original as closely as I could, I trust I have not done this to such a degree, as to have made my English either harsh, or difficult of apprehension. Where I found the Syriac greatly obscure, I generally added a note, and referred to the Greek, if accessible. And, for the better understanding of the mind of my author, I have occasionally pointed out parallel passages occurring in the Fathers, who were either prior to him, and therefore probably imitated by him, as Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, Tatian, Origen, Clemens Alexandrinus, and others; or, who succeeded him, particularly Theodoret, who was evidently a great imitator of him. I have also cited such passages from the classical, and other writers, as my author either referred to, or commented upon, as Herodotus, Thucydides, Diogenes Laer-tius, Plato, Aristotle, Josephus and others; which cost me much time and trouble. I did not however deem it necessary to make a collation of all, or of any, of the Greek or Latin Fathers for this purpose: all I have done, or intended to do, was, to mark down such coincidences as occurred generally in my reading, during the time in which I was engaged in this work. Many other similar passages might doubtless be found in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, and particularly in Justin |20 Martyr, Tatian, Tertullian, Origen, Clemens Alexandrinus, Arnobius, Lactantius, Chrysostom, and Theodoret, which I leave to the greater industry and time of others, who may choose to follow out the enquiry. Such illustrations and notes as are given on the Syriac text, were intended for the use of students who may be induced to read that work. I trust I have, in this way, provided a very useful Chresto-mathy for the advancement of Syriac literature.
The divisions, i. e. the paragraphs, or sections, which I have made in my text, both of the Syriac Edition, and of my English Translation, are in all respects exactly what I found them in the MS. I have however added numerals for the purpose of facilitating reference, either from the Syriac Text to my Translation, or from either of these to the original Syriac Manuscript. I might indeed have made a more equal distribution of these paragraphs or sections, but I thought it would be best, for the reasons just now given, to abide by the old one. I thought too, that, if the original Greek should be discovered hereafter, it might be as well not to alter this division of the text,-- particularly as it is one of a very ancient date,--for the purpose of affording the fullest opportunity for seeing what its ancient state was, and thence the more easily to verify the identity of such work, should it indeed ever be found.
I will now add a few remarks on the Work itself, and as to the period at which it was probably written. I think I may say, that the Work itself is worthy of the piety and learning of the deservedly celebrated Father of Church History. As a brief exposition of Christianity, particularly of its Divine authority, and amazing influence, it has perhaps never been surpassed. The work of Theodoret, entitled "Graecarum affectionum curatio" lately reprinted by Dr. Gaisford, is certainly more full on the particular points which it was intended to illustrate: but then it owes much to the industry and learning of our author, and is less comprehensive in its |21 context. The Stromateis of Clemens of Alexandria, and the "Civitas Dei" of Augustine, are perhaps more abundant on particular questions; while the work of Clemens is less orderly, and both of these take a less extensive range of inquiry, and are not so well adapted for general reading. When we consider the very extensive range of enquiry occupied by our author, the great variety both of argument and information which it contains, and the small space which it occupies; we cannot, I think, avoid coming to the conclusion, that it is a very extraordinary work, and one which is as suitable to our own times, as it was to those for which it was written. Its chief excellency is, that it is argumentative, and that its arguments are well grounded, and logically conducted. If it once or twice appeals to the power of Christianity in inducing many to devote their lives to a state of virginity, and to some other things quite unessential to vital religion ; we should bear in mind, that this was the foible of his day, and that, of the thousands who may be found both able and willing to deprecate and blame this, not so much as one perhaps will to follow his virtues, or give any thing like such evidences of real learning, and of Christian piety and zeal.
As to the period at which it was written, I think it must have been, after the general peace restored to the Church by Constantine, and before either the "Praeparatio," or the "Demonstratio Evangelica," was written. My reason for the first of these suppositions is: Our author speaks repeatedly of the peace restored to the Church; of Churches and Schools restored, or then built for the first time : of the nourishing state of the Church of Caesarea; of the extended, and then successfully extending, state of Christianity : all of which could not have been said during the times of the last, and most severe persecution. My reasons for the second of these suppositions are, the considerations that whatever portions of this Work are found, either in the "Praeparatio," |22 the "Demonstratio Evangelica," or the " Oratio de laudibus Constantini," they there occur in no regular sequence of argument as they do in this Work: especially in the latter, into which they have been carried evidently for the purpose of lengthening out a speech. Besides, many of these places are amplified in these works, particularly in the two former as remarked in my notes; which seems to suggest, that such additions were made either to accommodate these to the new soil, into which they had been so transplanted, or, to supply some new matter, which had suggested itself to our author. And again, as both the "Praeparatio" and "Demonstratio Evangelica," are works which must have required very considerable time to complete them, and which would even then be unfit for general circulation ; it appears probable to me, that this more popular, and more useful work, was first composed and published, and that the other two,--illustrating as they generally do, some particular points only,--argued in order in our Work,-- were reserved for the reading and occasional writing of our author during a considerable number of years, as well for the satisfaction of his own mind, as for the general reading of the learned. It appears probable to me therefore, that this was one of the first productions of Eusebius, if not the first after the persecutions ceased.
Of the authors cited in the following pages, I have not always had it in my power to quote either the latest or the best Editions. In many cases I could consult those only which happened to be in my own possession, not only because it is not always in my power to be within the precincts of the University, and to avail myself of its Libraries; but also, even when there, its Libraries are neither large nor rich in this respect.
I have in some instances written the proper names as I found them in my Syriac original, which I could hardly avoid, both as it appeared to be my duty to represent this |23 rather than any other exemplar, and also because the nature of the passage occasionally required this.
If I have in any instance failed to seize the sense of my author, I can only say, by way of defence, that I have done the best in my power to ensure accuracy in this respect. I have spared no pains, and have thought no inquiry too great, to do justice to him. Still, as Syriac Literature is but in a state of infancy among us, whether as it respects the character of the Grammars, Dictionaries, Authors, or other helps of this sort; if I have any where failed, I may perhaps hope for the indulgence which the nature of the case requires: and nothing beyond this do I wish. In all such cases, I shall be most happy in receiving suggestions which may improve my Work, and shall be as ready both to adopt these, and to be thankful for them. Of the Work itself I may say, If it has cost me much labour and research, and crowded upon me an increase of labour, depriving me in many instances even of necessary relaxation and exercise; it has nevertheless brought with it pleasures, which I shall ever remember with the greatest thankfulness. To have had the privilege of restoring to the Christian Church, a Work of one of its brightest ornaments as a Scholar and Theologian in the best of its days, is indeed an honour of which few can boast: while the satisfaction of hoping, that it may be instrumental for ages to come, in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, is more than sufficient to repay any labour which its restoration might have cost.
I have now to express my thanks to the Syndics of the University Press, for their liberality in taking upon themselves the principal part of the expense incurred in printing this Work ; and to add, that I hope this will not have been thrown away on the present occasion.
Note on the electronic text: The preface given above is then followed in the book by 5 'Preliminary Dissertations', taking up pp.xxiv-clix: over 130 pages! These are somewhat diffuse, but not without interest. They deal with topics such as Eusebius' opinions on various theological issues, but I believe most people will not find them interesting, and it would take more time than I have to spare to transcribe them. If anyone really wants them and is prepared to share in the labour of proofing them, by all means contact me. Otherwise I will save myself the labour. RP.
[Selected Footnotes: some were omitted which required transcribing Syriac but were of no interest to the non-Syriac speaker]
1. 1 If we may rely on the date of our MS. however, presently to be noticed, this Translation must have existed long before the times of either of these writers.--It is worth remarking too, that not only was this work written long before the appearance of Mohammed, but, the MS. itself was written nearly 200 years before he was born!--which may be considered as supplying tolerably good matter for proof, that no expectation was then entertained of the coming of such a Teacher as he was, or that the Scriptures underwent any alteration afterwards for the purpose of opposing him. This argument has been stated more at length in the latter part of my "Martyn's Persian Controversies."
2. 1 These he purchased at the monastery of the Blessed Virgin in the desert of Nitria (or Askit. The Coenobium Scetense of Asseman.), situated on the west of the Nile, and somewhat more than 80 miles from Cairo. Asseman visited this Monastery in 1715, when he tells us its Library did not contain more than about 200 Volumes. Of these he requested to have a hundred, but could not get more than nine or ten good authors, with a few others. (Bibl. Orient. Tom. i. Pref.) But in his Catalogue of the " Codices Nitrienses," ib. pp. 561--572, he gives an account of 34 Codices. Some of which were perhaps obtained on a former occasion by his Cousin Elias (ib.); from which, according to Peter Benedict their Editor and Translator, were the Works of Ephrem Syrus published at Rome, in 1737--43. I am greatly rejoiced to find, that Mr. Tattam has just returned from a second visit to this same Monastery, and has brought with him another collection of Syriac Manuscripts, from which, I trust, much valuable matter will be extracted and brought before the public.--It is evident that many of the MSS. brought to England by Mr. Tattam, had passed through the hands of Asseman, from certain marks found in them: and this I think is true of ours, as certain pencil-marks are found in it, which could hardly have been placed there by an Oriental.
3. 1 London, printed for the Society for the publication of Oriental Texts, sold by James Madden and Co., 8, Leadenhall-street. 1842. To this I prefixed a short Preface, referring the reader to the more ample one intended to go forth with this Work.
4. 2 The Metropolis of Arabia Petraea. Syr. [Syriac] or [Syriac] Gr. and Lat. Bostra. Arab, [Arabic] Basra. Assem. Bibl. Orient. Tom. iii. p. ii. p. DCCXXX. Not to be confounded with the Bozrah, [Hebrew] of Jerem. xlix. 13, of the Idumeans, nor with that of the Moabites, ib. xlviii. 24. Reland's Palestine, Lib. in. p. 666. Edit. 1714. Where we are told that this Bishop was present at the Council of Antioch, A.D. 363. This work of Titus was printed by Canisius, in the original Greek : the text, however, is any thing but good and exhibits many Lacunae, which this very ancient Syriac translation would well supply.
5. 1 Assemani. Bibl. Orient. Tom. ii. p. 486. His words are: " Erat quoddam Evangelium Edessenum (hoc est Syriacum Edessae exaratum) pervetustam quidem, sed clarum ac dilucidum, ex quo ne jota quidem unum deletum fuerat, legebatur autem clarius quam libri recens exarati, et unus dumtaxat prior quinternio prae antiquitate ex eo exciderat. Ad ejus vero calcem ita scriptum erat." (I omit the Syriac,. and give Asseman's translation of it.) "Absolutus est sanctus iste liber Feria quinta, die 18. Canun prioris (hoc est, Decembris) Anno Graecorum 389. (Christi 78.) propria manu Achaei Apostoli, socii Mar Maris Discipuli Mar Adaei Apostoli, cujus Oratio nobiscum sit Amen." If any reliance is to be placed on this document, it will follow, that this Syriac Gospel (and it does not say which Gospel is meant) was translated from the Greek probably before the death of the last Evangelist!
6. 1 My reason for this opinion is grounded on the fact, that many of the proper names found in this MS. are so deformed by the mistakes of the Copyists, as to make it extremely probable that many Copies had been made from the Translator's Autograph, before our Copy was written: e.g. p. 71, we have [Syriac] for [Syriac] or the like: p. 131, [Syriac] for probably; a corruption so great as to bid utter defiance to critical conjecture, had we indeed had nothing else to rely upon: p. 148, [Syriac], Herododus, for Herostratus: to which many others might be added. There are also some other errors, such as [Syriac], for [Syriac] see pp. 187, 223, 302, 276, &c.,--all of which, as far as they have occurred to me, I have corrected in the notes.
7. 2 According to Asseman (Bibl. Orient. Tom. iii. p. ii. p. lxix.) it had been established from time immemorial: his words are, "In urbe Edessa Scholam fuisse Persicae gentis, ab immemorabili conditam, in qua sacras literas Christiani Juvenes......docebantur." And ib. p. CMXXIV--v. we are told, that Eusebius of Emesa studied during his infancy at Edessa, but finished his education under our author in Caesarea of Palestine. His words are (after Socrates, Lib. ii. cap. 6), " Eusebium Emessenum Episcopum testatur ab infantia imbutum fuisse literis in schola Edessenae urbis, quae illi patria erat, humaniores deinde hausisse literas, sed tandem reversum esse ad scripturas sacras sub magisterio Eusebii Caesareae Episcopi, et Patrophili Episcopi Scythopolitani."
8. 1 L. c. quoted by Asseman. His words are, " Scholae sacrarum literarum in utraque urbe erant. Caesareae nimirum, ubi Pamphilus martyr bibliothecam, ut supra dixi, instituerat et Scythopoli, ubi officium Interpretis de Graeca in Syriacum linguam vigebat, ut in Actis Martyrum Palaestinae ab Eusebio Caesareensi collectis de S. Procopio martyre legitur," &c. "Socrati suffragatur Sozomemis," &c. Lib. in. cap. v. The martyrdom alluded to, occurred in the first year of the persecution of Dioclesian, and it is the first in our author's work on the Martyrs of Palestine. The passage is, as found in our MS., in these words : --
His family was of Baishan (Bethshan), and he ministered in the appointment of the Church in (three) different particulars. First he was a Reader: in another appointment, he interpreted the Greek Language in the Aramaic (Syriac.) And (in) the last, which was superior to the former ones, he was opposed to the powers of wickedness, and the Demons trembled before him.-- Asseman gives, " Hic genere quidem Hierosolymitanus erat; in Basan autem urbe.--morabatur": differing considerably from our MS.
9. 2 As [Syriac]
10. 7 It partakes in no respect of the corrupt dialect, termed by Adler "Hierosolymitana," as noticed in his work on the Syriac Versions of the Scriptures, and as found in a MS. discovered by him in the Library of the Vatican.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 18th July 2002. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
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