The other day I received, through the kindness of the author, a newly published volume on the Shepherd of Hermas in Ethiopic: Massimo Villa, Filologia e linguistica dei testi geʿez di età aksumita. Il Pastore di Erma (Studi Africanistici/Series Etiopica 10; Napoli: Unior Press, 2019).

Ethiopic Hermas is a peculiar AnTrAF item, as our current editions of the Greek text use for this version the text and the accompanying Latin translation published in 1860. Since then, several other Ethiopic witnesses have emerged—a fourth one will be published by the end of the year in this volume (the ToC is available here)—so a new edition is sorely needed. Until then, Massimo Villa’s contribution is an important, book-length, step in that direction.

The successive chapters introduce the text and its textual tradition (ch. 1), the Ethiopic context (ch. 2), offer an initial assessment of the Greek Vorlage (ch. 3), describes the extant witnesses and the stemma (ch. 4) and the indirect tradition (ch. 5 and 6), which are followed by an assessment of the Ethiopian reception of the Shepherd (ch. 7), a series of philological case studies (ch. 8) and finally, to whet our appetite, a critical edition and annotated Italian translation of the Third Vision of the Shepherd (the longest of the five).

With regard to the question of reception, Massimo Villa’s assessment (ch. 7) is (rightly) based on the distribution of witnesses, further information in manuscripts, mentions of the Shepherd in book inventory lists and the indirect tradition, described in the previous chapters. He concludes that the circulation of this text cannot be linked satisfactorily to just one centre and context—the dissident Stephanite movement at the Gunda Gundē monastery in Aksumite times—and then proposes a number of reasons for the eventual decline of the Shepherd in the Horn of Africa after the 15th century, some ‘mechanical’, some historical.

You can find the ToC on the academia.edu page of the author, here.

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