patristics | manuscripts


Dan Batovici

The AnTrAF Leuven Conference

It is my pleasure to announce an upcoming two-day conference in Leuven next month on the Ancient Translations of the Apostolic Fathers (AnTrAF).

Ign 309
Detail of HMML CFMM 309, from the vHMML Reading Room.

The Apostolic Fathers corpus contains an interesting if motley sample of early Christian texts whose Greek was edited several times in the past couple of decades, with new critical editions and commentaries being now produced for each book separately with OUP.

The versions, although quite interesting and varied, receive far less attention. Despite a few exceptions, critical editions of these versions are either still lacking or a century old, even though new manuscripts have been discovered. This conference aims to produce a series of updates on various aspects of the AF transmission in Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Slavonic, Middle Persian, Ethiopic and Arabic.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch at if you are interested in this event. This conference was awarded a generous grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.


Versions of the Apostolic Past: Ancient Translations of the Apostolic Fathers

22-23 May 2019
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
KU Leuven

Wednesday 22 May

Venue: Romero Room (MTC 02.10)
14:00–14:30 Coffee and welcome

14:30–15:00 | Benjamin Gleede (Universität Zürich)
Preliminary Remarks to a Preliminary Critical Edition of the “Literary” Passio Polycarpi

15:00–15:30 | Taras Khomych (Liverpool Hope University)
Lost or Found in Translation? The Old Slavonic Version of the Martyrdom of Polycarp

15:30–16:00 | Respondent: Joseph Verheyden. Discussion.
16:00–16:30 | Coffee break

16:30–17:00 | Donatella Tronca (Università di Bologna)
The versio latina of the First Letter of Clement to the Corinthians

17:00–17:30 | Dan Batovici (KU Leuven)
1 and 2 Clement in University Library, Cambridge, Add. MSS 1700

17:30–18:00 | Respondent: Joseph Verheyden. Discussion.
19:00 | Dinner 

Thursday 23 May

First venue: MTC 02.10

9:30-10:00 | Samuel Noble (KU Leuven)
The Garshuni “Letter on Priests” of Pseudo-Ignatius of Antioch

10:00-10:30 | Madalina Toca (KU Leuven)
A New Critical Edition of the Syriac ‘Canonical Selection’ of Ignatius’ Letters

10:30-11:00 | Coffee break

11:00-11:30 | Massimo Villa (University of Naples “L’Orientale”)
The Ethiopian Reception of Ignatius of Antioch

11:30-12:00| Respondent: Joseph Verheyden. Discussion.

12:00-14:00 | Lunch break

Second venue: MTC 02.13

14:00-14:30 | Anahit Avagyan (Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts Matenadaran)
The Apostolic Fathers in Armenian

14:30-15:00 | Adrian Pirtea (Freie Universität Berlin/BBAW)
“Gathering Souls through Parables”: The Shepherd of Hermas Fragment from Turfan (M97) and its Manichaean Context

15:00-15:30 | Coffee break

15:30-16:00 | J. Gregory Given (Harvard University)
The Coptic Reception of Ignatius of Antioch

16:00-16:30 | Paolo Cecconi (Chemnitz)
New Cues in Translation Technique in the Two Latin Versions of the Shepherd

16:30-17:00 | Respondent: Joseph Verheyden. Discussion.
17:00 | Conclusion (Dan Batovici)

18:00 | Dinner




AF news | Papias in JTS, Didache in CBR

A couple of AF articles are featured in the latest issues of JTS and CBR, so I thought I’d mention them.

Screenshot 2019-04-24 at 12.34.42

The Journal of Theological Studies 70.1 (2019) includes an article tackles the question “Did Eusebius Read Papias?,” by Luke J. Stevens. Here goes the abstract:

Although the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius of Caesarea is our principal source of information on Papias of Hierapolis and his lost Exegesis of Dominical Oracles, it is here argued that Eusebius knew the work only at second hand. Several Papian fragments preserved elsewhere demonstrate his ignorance, and his citations of the Exegesis consistently differ in style from those of works certainly known to him at first hand. Apparently, the same intermediary that informed him about both Papias’s Exegesis and Hegesippus’s Hypomnemata was also used in the de Boor Fragments, and this intermediary’s author, perhaps Pierius of Alexandria, has handed down further Papian fragments through other works. Eusebius’s lack of first-hand knowledge prevents us from fully trusting the integrity of his summaries, from giving credence to his charges of chiliasm, and from drawing any conclusions from his silence, especially on what Papias may have said about Luke and John.

The previous issues of the same journal, JTS 69.2 also included an article by Stephen C. Carlson, who I think is preparing an edition and commentary on the Papias fragments, on the curious early modern history of a saying misattributed to Papias: “‘Lasst uns zur Freundlichkeit Gehen’: A Saying Misattributed to Papias of Hierapolis.” Abstract:

Theodor Zahn mentions a saying, ‘Lasst uns zur Freundlichkeit gehen’, attributed to Papias of Hierapolis in the works of C. F. D. Schubart (1739–91) and other German devotional writers. Zahn knew that it did not belong to Papias but nonetheless asked his fellow scholars where it came from. This article traces the convoluted history of this saying back to its origin in the early modern period.


Finally, Currents in Biblical Research 17.3 (2019) features a useful survey on some four decades of scholarship on the Didache by Shawn J. Wilhite, “Thirty-Five Years Later: A Summary of Didache Scholarship Since 1983:”

This article provides a summary of Didache scholarship over the past 35 years (1983–present). The review of literature focuses on the individual participants, including notable Didache scholars such as Jonathan Draper and Clayton Jefford, and the field’s respective contributions to Didache research. This article directly considers the vision of the Didache and its role in early Christianity via the literature of participants in Didache research. I consider the individual treatments of numerous Didache scholars and a list of their publications. In the conclusion, I highlight some points of agreement and disagreement to prompt further areas of specific research. I offer four suggestions to continue the work in Didache studies: (1) Wirkungsgeschichte and reception theory; (2) social-scientific methodologies (social identity theory; self-categorization theory); (3) exclusive attention given to H54; and (4) intertextual concerns beyond the Gospel of Matthew and Epistle of James.

Vernacular Psalters

If you’re even remotely interested how the reception of the Psalms fares in vernacular languages other than English, here’s a fresh collection of articles for you: Vernacular Psalters and the Early Rise of Linguistic Identities: The Romanian Case (Museikon Studies 1; Bucharest: DARK Publishing / Muzeul Național al Unirii Alba Iulia, 2019).

Fortunately all available online here, it includes plenty great  images—it is also the catalogue of an exhibition with Psalter in vernacular languages—and studies on the early Psalters in Old French in their 12th c. context, on the use of Psalms in English vernacular preaching, on Old Czech late medieval manuscripts and so on.  Have a look!

Screenshot 2019-04-19 at 23.22.02

Pseudepigraphy and Dating in Gießen

I’ve received the other day the program for the end of May conference in Gießen: Das Baujahr hinter der Fassade: Probleme bei der Datierung neutestamentlicher Pseudepigraphen und neuere Lösungsansätze.

The conference is built around the problems posed by the fact that the matter of pseudepigraphy complicates the question of dating several early Christian writings. My paper will deal with the dating of 1 Clement.

The flyer of the conference, including the programme and list of papers is available here.

Screenshot 2019-04-13 at 20.44.15

St Helia review in Sacris Erudiri and then some

The latest issue of Sacris Erudiri 57 (2018) is now out, with several remarkable articles. Although it is not yet online – I’ve seen the printed issue – you can find the TOC here. I imagine it will eventually be posted on their webpage.

Until then, a couple of highlights:

The issue includes a 100 pages (!) review by Gregory Hays of V. Burrus and M. Conti (eds.), The Life of Saint Helia (OUP). That’s just about the most developed critique of a critical edition that I’ve seen so far. That should spark some conversation.

vechi 2013

There are also two critical editions, one from Aäron Vanspauwen (“The Anti-Manicaean Treatise De fide contra Manichaeos, Attributed to Evodius of Uzalis,” 7-116[!]), the other from Sergey Kim (“«Je suis venu jeter du feu sur la terre»: l’édition critique de l’original grec et de la version arménienne d’une homélie du Pseudo-Chrysostome cappadocien (CPG 4669),” 117-66).

There is no need to list the TOC since it is available here, but I would still mention Leontien Vanderschelden‘s discussion of “Two Alleged Witnesses of the Catena of the Paris Psalter: Vaticani graeci 617 and 1519” (403-38), and David Lincicum‘s “An Excerpt from the Apostolic Church Order (CPG 1739).

1 Clement papers May

I have three papers coming up, all in May, and 1 Clement emerges as the common theme.

“Organising 1 Clement in Syriac and Coptic: Text dividers in University Library Cambridge Add. MSS 1700, Berlin Staatsbibliothek Ms. or. fol. 3065, and Strasbourg Université copte 362-385” at the Scribal Habits in Middle Eastern Manuscripts workshop, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (May 9-11).

“1 and 2 Clement in University Library, Cambridge, Add. MSS 1700”, at the Ancient Translations of the Apostolic Fathers conference in Leuven (May 22-23).

“Revisiting the Dating of 1 Clement”,  at Das Baujahr hinter der Fassade: Probleme bei der Datierung neutestamentlicher Pseudepigraphen und neuere Lösungsansätze, conference organised in Gießen (May 30-June 1).

I will post the programmes as they become available.

New JbAC issue

I received recently my copy of the Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 60 (2017) 83-90, which appeared by the end of 2018.


In my piece I deal with a couple of issues I’ve been following up on the transmission of the Shepherd, which are incredibly persistent in Greek, Coptic as well as Latin:

“Dating, Split-Transmission Theory, and the Latin Reception of the Shepherd of Hermas”

The Shepherd of Hermas has been translated twice into Latin between the second and fifth centuries. This contribution revisits and calls into question two issues which seemed settled: the dating of the first Latin translation, and the relevance of the Latin transmission for the proposal that the Shepherd might have circulated initially split in two different books, the first four Visions on the one hand, and the rest of the book with the fifth Vision as introduction.

Here goes the TOC of the issue, for convenience:



The latest JBL: A scroll papyrus of John

The latest JBL is out, 137.4 (2018), including the following article by Geoffrey Smith:

The Willoughby Papyrus: A New Fragment of John 1:49–2:1 (P134) and an Unidentified Christian Text

Here goes the abstract:

Formerly in the possession of Harold Willoughby, professor of early Christian origins at the University of Chicago, this unpublished fragment of the Gospel of John in Greek created a stir when it appeared briefly on a well-known auction site in January 2015. Having obtained permission from the owner to edit and publish the manuscript, I offer in this article the results of my analysis of the so-called Willoughby Papyrus, which I have assigned to the third or fourth century. On the basis of new images of the fragment, I provide a transcription of the text, discuss its apparent bookroll format, and assess its text-critical value. Finally, I present the secondary text on the verso and offer some tentative suggestions about its literary character. Though no more than six fragmentary lines survive on either side, the Willoughby Papyrus is of historical interest for three reasons: (1) it is a rare example of a New Testament fragment in which “God” is not abbreviated as a nomen sacrum, a “sacred name”; (2) it furnishes scholars with the first defensible example of a New Testament text written on the front side of an unused bookroll; and (3) it preserves six lines from an otherwise unknown Christian literary text. The Willoughby Papyrus has the potential to provide fresh insight into the emergence and standardization of nomina sacra conventions, the transition from the bookroll to the codex, and the circulation of canonical and noncanonical Christian writings.

I don’t have access to the article just yet, but I very much look forward to reading it.  In as much as we do have in the Willoughby papyrus a NT text which was written on a scroll I suppose that another strong claim in early Christian studies, linking the format of the codex to the formation or circulation of the canon on the basis that we have no scroll of a New Testament text, falls. Interesting days.


Other articles on manuscripts in the issue are

NTP (Novum Testamentum Patristicum) colloquium in Leuven

Quick note on a three-day meeting which just took place in Leuven:

The Ninth International Colloquium of the Novum Testamentum Patristicum
Patristic Commentaries on New Testament Writings: Aims, Methods, and Strategies

For those who didn’t come across this project just yet, a brief intro: the NTP project started a while back by the late Kurt Niederwimmer (in 1993). The general aim to produce a systematic treatment of the Patristic reception and exegesis of each book of the New Testament, all throughout Late Antiquity.  Almost fifty commentary volumes are projected (and six supplementary volumes on connected topics). Most New Testament books receive one volume treatment, though 1 Peter is divided in two volumes, John in four, and Matthew in six. The first published was the volume on Galatians authored by Martin Meiser, in  2007, followed by a first supplementary volume, which is a collections of essays on the reception of the New Testament in the Apocrypha, in 2014. In 2016, Andreas Merkt published the first volume on 1 Peter, and 2017 Justina C. Metzdorf that on Matthew 19-21.


Back to the colloquium: the hosts were Joseph Verheyden and Tobias Nicklas, editors with Andreas Merkt of the NTP series. There were five papers on Patristic commentaries, and the four presentations from scholars who currently work on NTP volumes:

Lorenzo Perrone, Origenes als Interpret des Neuen Testaments: Hermeneutische Ansätze und auslegungsgeschichtliche Perspektiven

Steven Cooper, Ambrosiaster’s Aims, Methods, and Strategies in his Commentary on the Letter to the Colossians

Alfons Fürst, The Prefaces of Jerome’s Pauline Commentaries

Konrad Huber, “ut non ordo lectionis sed rationis intellegatur” (in Apoc. XI,5): Rekapitulation als ein zentrales hermeneutisches Prinzip im Apokalypsekommentar des Viktorin von Pettau

Sarah Foot, The Bark and the Text: Bede’s Exegetical Method in His New Testament Commentaries


Hans-Ulrich Weidemann, Der NTP-Kommentar zur Johannespassion (Joh 18-19). Konzeption und Stand der Arbeit

Hagit Amirav and Cor Hoogerwerf, The NTP Commentary on Ephesians: Process and Results

Brian Matz, Matthew 13-18 in the NTP: The Forest (Organization Scheme) and Some Trees (Chapter 13)

Dan Batovici, Notes on the Patristic Reception of 1 Peter 4:7-11.

I am currently working on the second NTP volume on 1 Peter (on 1 Pt 2:11-5:14). There are only a handful of exegetical works dealing specifically with 1 Peter, and they tend to be fragmentary (which means that not all verses are commented upon) or focused rather on all Catholic epistles (which means that they are not necessarily very detailed, and might skip verses, and indeed entire sections), or a combination of both. In this paper, I discussed one pericope, 1 Peter 4:7-11, specifically its treatment in the few extant Petrine exegetical works.

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