Stemming from of a 2019 Leuven conference generously funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung and in relation to the AnTrAF project, at the end of the year was published a thematic issue of Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses [98.3 (2022)] I co-edited with J. Verheyden: “Versions of the Early Christian Past: Ancient Translations of the Apostolic Fathers.”

For convenience, here’s the table of contents, followed by the abstracts of each paper. Note that Greg Given’s article is readily available in Open Access, but feel free to get in touch if you need another article and don’t have access. The introduction is available here.

Donatella Tronca, “The Latin Translation of the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians in Manuscript Namur, Grand Séminaire 37,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 379-389.

The article provides an analytical description of manuscript Namur, Grand Séminaire 37, which contains the only witness of the Latin translation of Clement’s First letter to the Corinthians. While scholars have dated the production of this codex generally to the eleventh century, a palaeographical and codicological analysis enables us to give a more precise dating in the years straddling the eleventh and the twelfth century. The production of the manuscript within this period, defined by Paul Fournier as un tournant de l’histoire du droit, makes it a building block in the political and ecclesiastical construction of papal primacy in the Middle Ages.

Benjamin Gleede, “Image and Instrument: Conflicting Martyrologies in the Martyrdom of Polycarp and its Literary Latin Translation,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 391-409.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp was translated into Latin three times during antiquity, twice in a literary, once in a literal manner. Alongside the famous and most successful literary translation contained in Rufinus’ version of Eusebius’ Church history we have an anonymous literary version which at closer inspection shows an even higher degree of theological reflection than its more famous predecessor. Where the Greek original tries to underscore the Christ-conformity of its hero as much as possible, perhaps even to a degree that might compromise Christ’s unicity as the archetype, the Latin translator uses every chance to avoid such a misunderstanding and underscore the martyr’s inferiority to and dependence upon Christ and grace. Thus, probably the most plausible historical background for this translation would be Augustine’s controversy over the issue of martyrdom during the 420s.

Paolo Cecconi, “Hermas and his Readers: New Cues in the Translation Technique Employed by the Two Latin Versions of the Shepherd,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 411-425.

The Shepherd of Hermas is one of the best documented literary works of the second century AD. It belongs to the first layer of Greek Christian texts and was soon translated into Latin (twice). These translations shed new light on the intercultural and intertextual exchanges between different linguistic groups, who shared the same background and have the same values, but adapted the translations to their own cultural context. This article investigates in depth both Latin translations, drawing on the author’s work on the new critical editions of Vulgata and Palatina, and on methodological investigations into how to translate a text from Greek into Latin, also taking into account new studies on the textual transmission of the Shepherd itself and on the Ge’ez translation.

Adrian C. Pirtea, “The Shepherd of Hermas Fragment from Turfan (M97) and its Manichean Context,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 427-449.

This article discusses the Manichaean Middle Persian translation of the Shepherd of Hermas (Berlin, Turfan Collection, M97) and investigates the possible reasons as to why Manichaeans developed an interest in this early Christian work. After a short overview of previous scholarship, I provide a codicological, palaeographic and philological analysis of M97 and its relationship to the Greek, Latin, Coptic and Ethiopic versions of the Shepherd. The relevance of another Manichaean fragment from Turfan that mentions ‘Hermas the Shepherd’ (M788) is also briefly addressed. The main part of the article attempts to explain how the text of the Shepherd was transmitted to the Manichaeans in Central Asia and what function this work had in Manichaean church life. I argue that the Manichaean Middle Persian version of the Shepherd played an important, yet hitherto unacknowledged role as a collection of didactic parables, and that its usefulness for homiletics and preaching is analogous to the Manichaean Sogdian Book of Parables (Āzandnāme) derived from Buddhist sources.

Ted Erho and Ralph Lee, “References to the Shepherd of Hermas at the Monastery of Gunda Gundē,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 451-461.

The monastery of Gunda Gundē played a significant historical role in preserving the Ethiopic translation of the Shepherd of Hermas, but its relationship to the book was not simply as a passive guardian. As witnessed through a few locally-produced commentary manuscripts referencing this work, at least some monks actively engaged theologically with it. Their interest in the Shepherd may have been stimulated in part by writings alluding to Hermas authored by the fourteenth-century Ethiopian theologian Retu‘a Hāymānot, copies of which were also held by the monastery.

Massimo Villa, “The Reception of Ignatius of Antioch in Ethiopic Literature: A Survey,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 463-479.

In this contribution I study the presence and circulation of the writings of Ignatius of Antioch in Ethiopic literature. In Ethiopia Ignatius was undoubtedly less popular than other subapostolic authors and his epistles were never translated in their entirety into Ethiopic. However, fragments of his corpus reached the Horn of Africa via Copto-Arabic sources in the form of quotations. As is often the case with patristic literature, the Ignatian legacy was characterized by adaptations and pseudepigraphy. Genuine and spurious quotations are found in Severos of Ašmunayn’s works, translated into Ethiopic no later than the fourteenth century, and two additional pseudo-Ignatian quotations are transmitted in the Hāymānota ʾabaw, or ‘Faith of the Fathers’ (sixteenth century). These fragments were later incorporated into several commentaries and treatises of theological and catechetical contents.

Greg J. Given, “How Coherent is the Ignatian Middle Recension? The View from the Coptic Versions of Letters of Ignatius,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 481-502. [Open Access]

Over the past century and a half, most scholars have presumed that the earliest Greek text of the letters of Ignatius is a seven-letter collection known as the ‘Middle Recension’. This article aims to trouble the three-recension model of the textual transmission of the Ignatian letters, which undergirds this consensus. First, the article presents an overview of the manuscript witnesses to the ‘Middle Recension’, illustrating the diverse texts collected together under the umbrella of this purportedly singular ‘recension’. Then the article takes a close look at the two extant Coptic versions of the letters of Ignatius, which present unique selections and arrangements of the collection unaccounted for by the three-recension model. These versions also contain distinctive textual variants that evince interpretive engagement and further illustrate the model’s heuristic limitations. Instead of interpreting the Coptic versions as mere witnesses to the Greek text, the article argues that the Coptic texts represent valuable evidence for the processes by which the memory of the earliest period of Christianity was re-crafted to constitute a usable past in late antique and medieval Egypt.

Dan Batovici, “Apostolic by Proxy: Corpora, editiones minores, and Networks of Texts,” ETL 98.3 (2022) 503-524.

This article discusses the pre-modern basis for the otherwise modern AF corpus. To that end, it offers an overview of the manuscript witnesses in Greek, Latin, and Syriac, and shows that the AF were already connected in various ways (albeit as a network of texts rather than a closed list), and moreover that the information preserved in paratext often connects the AF with the apostles. Furthermore, it argues that the view from early Christian studies, focusing for the last hundred years mostly on the Greek and adopting what was initially an editio minor as the AF ‘canon’, obscures the understanding of how these texts were perused and associated with other texts in various late antique and medieval Christian contexts.