Archive for the ‘Gospel of John’ Tag

The Pericope adulterae in Old Georgian   Leave a comment

Just over a year ago I wrote on the Pericope adulterae in an East Syriac manuscript in our collections (CCM 64; see here). I’ve recently read over the passage in the two Old Georgian versions that include it (Pre-Athonite and Athonite; not in Adishi). Birdsall wrote on it, and Chris Keith discusses the passage in Georgian a little, especially its placement, in his 2009 book (pp. 124-126). As far as I know, the texts have never been published together, nor is any English translation available, so I have prepared a document with a synoptic presentation of each verse of the passage in Greek (NA27) and the two Georgian versions together with some verse-by-verse vocabulary and grammatical notes (file here). I offer no full textual commentary, but some sense of the distinctive readings of each version compared with each other (and with Greek) will also be evident in the English translation of each Georgian version I give below. These English translations are literal, but nevertheless not every difference between the two versions can be indicated.


J. Neville Birdsall, “The Pericope Adulterae in Georgian,” Studia Patristica 39 (2006): 185–92.

Chris Keith, The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus (Leiden, 2009).

(See some artwork from HMML collections related to the scene here, here, here, and here.)

English translation

PA 7:53 And each one left for his home.
At 7:53 And each one left for his home.

PA 8:1 But Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives.
At 8:1 But Jesus left for the Mount of Olives.

PA 8:2 And the next day [OR in the morning] he went again to the temple, and all the people were coming to him, and he was teaching them.
At 8:2 And at dawn he went again to the temple, and all the people were coming to him, and he sat down and was teaching them.

PA 8:3 The high priests and Pharisees brought a woman and stood her in their midst.
At 8:3 But the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman, who was caught in adultery openly before the people, and they stood her in their midst.

PA 8:4 And they said, “Teacher, this woman was caught seen in adultery.
At 8:4 And they said, because they were testing him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery openly.

PA 8:5 And in the Law of Moses, for such [women] he commands us to throw stone[s]. Now, what do you say?“
At 8:5 And Moses commanded us in the Law to throw stone[s] at such [women]. What, then, do you say?“

PA 8:6 But they said this and were testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of, but Jesus was looking downward and was marking on the ground with his finger.
At 8:6 But they said this and were testing him, that they might have [something] to accuse him of, but Jesus bent down to the ground, was marking on the ground with his finger, and he was saying nothing.

PA 8:7 And when they stood there a while and were looking at him, then he straightened up and said to them, “Whoever among you is sinless, let him first throw a stone at that [woman].”
At 8:7 And when they stood there a while and were looking at him, he straightened up and said to them, “Whoever of you is sinless, let him first throw a stone at that [woman].”

PA 8:8 And he again bent down to the ground.
At 8:8 And he again bent down and was marking on the ground.

PA 8:9 But when they heard it, the elders and scribes began, and one by one they were going away, and he himself was left alone, and the woman stood before Jesus.
At 8:9 But when they heard it, exposed from their conscience, they were going away one by one. They began from the elders, until he himself was left alone, and the woman stood in the midst.

PA 8:10 And Jesus looked and said to her, “Woman, where are your accusers? No one accuses you?”
At 8:10 And Jesus straightened up and saw no one except the woman, and he said to her, “Where are your accusers? No one accused you?”

PA 8:11 But she said, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said to her, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and from now on don’t sin.”
At 8:11 But she said, “No one, Lord!” But Jesus said to her, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and from now on don’t sin.”

A lone Georgian word in a Greek manuscript   2 comments

It doesn’t take long studying manuscripts before you learn that straightforward categories like genre, language, and even script are not always uniform across an individual manuscript’s contents. And when we include in those contents the evidence of use, such as notes, by its handlers and readers, a manuscript may appear even more motley.

BL Add. 39602 is a late tenth-century Gospel lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 181) written in Cappadocia. (See Scrivener, Contributions to the Criticism of the Greek New Testament, pp. 50-52.) Here is the colophon:

BL Add. 39602, f. 220v

BL Add. 39602, f. 220v

Ἐγράφη τὸ τίμιον καὶ ἅγιον εὐαγγέλιον ἐπὶ Στεφάνου τοῦ θεοφίλου ἐπισκόπου Κισκίσσης· μηνὶ ιουνίῳ ἰνδικτιῶνος ηʹ ἔτους ϛυπη γραφὲν διὰ χειρὸς νικ. ϗ τ. (?)

This honored and holy Gospel-book was written for Stephanos the god-loving bishop of Kiskissa, in the month of June, in the 8th [year of the] indiction, in the year 6488 [anno mundi], by the hand of Nik. and …

This comes to the year 980. It was renewed in the next century, as a note on the following folio tells us. The original scribe named in the colophon could be Nikon, Nikolaos, or Nikētas. The manuscript eventually made its way to Mount Athos, the Monastery of Caracalla, whence Robert Curzon acquired it in 1837. (On this monastery and Curzon’s visit there, see his Visits to Monasteries in the Levant (1849), ch. 25, beg. p. 377.). It is probably there that some Georgian monk had written the word discussed below. (See the bibliography at the end of the post for just a few sources on Georgian connections to Mount Athos.)

On f. 1r (see the full page here), below the left column, which ends with John 1:7 in Greek, stands an abbreviated Georgian word.

BL Add. 39602, f. 1r

BL Add. 39602, f. 1r

The word is written small in nusxuri script ⴑⴞⴐⴁⴢ, with an abbreviation mark; in full it would be ⴑ(ⴀ)ⴞ(ⴀ)ⴐ(ⴄ)ⴁ(ⴀ)ⴢ, in mxredruli სახარებაჲ. It’s the common word for Gospel, derived from ხარება, “to rejoice, hear good news; tell, announce”. If there are other Georgian notes recorded in this manuscript, I’ve not found them yet. Who knows why we have the word written here? Anyone with even a smattering of Greek would be able to tell that this is a Gospel-book, so it is likely not just a mere identifying label for those more familiar with Georgian than Greek. It may be that a Georgian reader simply appreciated the connection made between himself and this book and realized that connection by penning the word “Gospel” in his own language onto the manuscript’s first page of text, where John’s Gospel begins. Whatever the reason the word appears, we have it as a reminder of the sometimes miscellaneous quality of what a manuscript may present to us as we study it, and a reminder of the various readers, like ourselves, that may have come across it.


(See also a few more sources listed here from the Library of Congress.)

Blake, R. P. (1929a). The Athos Codex of the Georgian Old Testament. The Harvard Theological Review, 22: 33–56.

Blake, R. P. (1929b). The Georgian Version of Fourth Esdras from the Athos Manuscript. The Harvard Theological Review, 22: 57–105.

Blake, R. P. (1931). Catalogue des manuscrits géorgiens de la bibliothèque de la Laure d’Iviron au Mont Athos. Revue de l’Orient Chrétien, 28: 289–361.

Blake, R. P. (1933). Catalogue des manuscrits géorgiens de la bibliothèque de la Laure d’Iviron au Mont Athos. Revue de l’Orient Chrétien, 29: 114–159, 225–271.

Brosset, M.-F. (1862). Explication de quelques inscriptions, photographiées par Sévastianof, au mont Athos. Bulletin de l’Académie Impériale Des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg, 4: 1–16. Available here.

Ebanoidze, M., & Wilkinson, J. (2001). Timothy Gabashvili. Pilgrimage to Mount Athos, Constantinople and Jerusalem, 1755-1759. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon.

Marr, N. Y. (1901). Агіографическіе матеріалы по грузинскимъ рукописямъ Ивера (Hagiographical Material from Georgian Mss on Mt. Athos, Iveron). St. Petersburg.

Chrysostom’s reference to translations of the Bible   2 comments

The fact that texts of the Bible exist in so many languages makes it a fascinating arena in which to study all sorts of philological phenomena. Research on these texts, in whatever language, may include the attempt to pinpoint when the biblical text comes into this or that language, by whom, &c. With much less specificity and altogether different concerns, in his second homily on the Gospel of John, on Jn 1:1 (text in PG 59: 29-38), John Chrysostom has a remark that touches on some of the languages within the purview of hmmlorientalia. At this place, the homilist is making the point that the apostle John, unlettered as he was, uttered teachings grander, more glorious, and more useful than those the learned Greeks might appreciate, including Pythagoras — who “set in motion ten thousand kinds of magic” (col. 32, γοητείας κινήσας εἴδη μυρία) — and Plato, the doctrines of them all, he says implausibly, being “extinguished and vanished” (col. 31, ἔσβεσται ἅπαντα καὶ ἠφάνισται)! The teaching of the unlearned John, however, has been spreading.

ἀλλὰ καὶ Σύροι καὶ Αἰγύπτιοι καὶ Ἰνδοὶ καὶ Πέρσαι καὶ Αἰθίοπες καὶ μυρία ἕτερα ἔθνη εἰς τὴν αὐτῶν μεταβαλόντες γλῶτταν τὰ παρὰ τούτου δόγματα εἰσαχθέντα ἔμαθον ἄνθρωποι βάρβαροι φιλοσοφεῖν. (col. 32)

But Syrians, Egyptians, Indians, Persians, Ethiopians, and ten thousand other peoples, translating into their own languages the doctrines introduced by him [John], barbarians learned to philosophize.

While we have and still use all of these gentilics, the identity of the peoples Chrysostom had in mind is not necessarily certain. Given his hyperbolic reference to “ten thousand other peoples,” he is not, in any case, aiming to be very specific. Whatever their identity, they’re still barbarians! (John, even without much learning, was not really a barbarian for Chrysostom because he used Greek.) Chrysostom is not being specific about the parts of the Bible he has in mind, either, but minimally he is thinking of the Gospel of John. One result of this vaguely mentioned translation activity is that hitherto non-philosophizing peoples have now learned to do just that. Combined with Chrysostom’s previous remarks in this homily, we come to his conclusion that the teachings of Plato and (especially) Pythagoras constitute bad philosophy, justly withering, while the simple, unlettered, and little-thought-of John the apostle is one means through which a higher and better philosophy, one that even non-Greeks can study and practice, has spread.

Avid Syriac readers will know about the appearance last year of the first part of the Syriac version of Chrysostom’s homilies on John (homilies 1-43) in CSCO 651/ScrSyr 250 by Jeff Childers. The Syriac part corresponding to the Greek text above is on p. 14, ll. 16-18. (Since the appearance of Syriac is still not always reliable on different machines, I’ve also given a transliteration. The accompanying ET in CSCO 652 is not immediately available to me, so the translation below is mine):

ܐܠܐ ܐܦ ܣܘܪ̈ܝܝܐ ܘܡܨܪ̈ܝܐ ܘܗܢܕ̈ܘܝܐ ܘܦܪ̈ܣܝܐ ܘܟܘܫ̈ܝܐ ܘܪ̈ܒܘܬܐ ܕܥܡ̈ܡܐ ܐܚܪ̈ܢܐ. ܝܘܠܦܢܗ ܕܗܢܐ ܒܠܫܢܝ̈ܗܘܢ ܦܫܩܘ. ܘܐܝܠܦܘ ܚܟܡܬܗ܀

ellā āp suryāyē w-meṣrāyē w-hendwāyē w-pārsāyē w-kušāyē w-rebbwātā d-ʕammē (ʔ)ḥrānē yulpānēh d-hānā b-leššānayhon paššeq(w) w-ilep(w) ḥekmtēh

But Syrians, Egyptians, Indians, Persians, Ethiopians (Cushites), and myriads of other peoples have translated this man’s doctrine into their own languages and have learned his wisdom.

Here are some of the Greek-Syriac correspondences with comments:

  • εἰς τὴν αὐτῶν … γλῶτταν b-leššānayhon. The pronominal elements are plural in both languages, but “language” is singular in Greek, plural in Syriac.
  • μεταβαλόντες paššeq(w). Greek aorist participle rendered by a Syriac perfect, a very common phenomenon in Greek-Syriac translations.
  • τὰ παρὰ τούτου δόγματα εἰσαχθέντα yulpānēh d-hānā. The noun is plural in Greek, singular in Syriac, and where the Greek has a participle (“introduced”) with prepositional phrase (“by him”), the Syriac merely has a pronominal element (“his”): the near demonstrative pronoun with an anticipatory pronominal suffix on the noun.
  • ἔμαθον w-ilep(w). The Greek μεταβαλόντες and ἔμαθον are in Syriac put as past verbs joined by a conjunction.
  • ἄνθρωποι βάρβαροι ∅. In the Greek text, μεταβαλόντες and ἔμαθον have distinct agents: for the participle it is the named nations, and for ἔμαθον it is ἄνθρωποι βάρβαροι. The latter noun and adjective indeed refer to those same nations, but they are grammatically separate. The Syriac has nothing to correspond to ἄνθρωποι βάρβαροι — perhaps to avoid calling their own people barbarians! — and thus the two verbs paššeq(w) w-ilep(w) have as their agent the list of peoples at the beginning of the sentence.
  • φιλοσοφεῖν ḥekmtēh. A notable translation, the Greek infinitive has become a noun, and one with a pronominal suffix referring to the apostle. Syriac has words derived from Greek φιλοσοφία, but here a native Aramaic word is used.


Notula on some Greek terminology for “translate”

The expression μεταβάλλειν εἰς γλῶτταν is used in the passage above for “translate”. Josephus also uses this verb in the same meaning:

Ant. Jud. 1.10
Εὗρον τοίνυν, ὅτι Πτολεμαίων μὲν ὁ δεύτερος μάλιστα δὴ βασιλεὺς περὶ παιδείαν καὶ βιβλίων συναγωγὴν σπουδάσας ἐξαιρέτως ἐφιλοτιμήθη τὸν ἡμέτερον νόμον καὶ τὴν κατ᾽ αὐτὸν διάταξιν τῆς πολιτείας εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα φωνὴν μεταβαλεῖν

Ant. Jud. 12.14-15
μεμηνῦσθαι δ᾽ ἔλεγεν αὐτῷ πολλὰ εἶναι καὶ παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις τῶν παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς νομίμων συγγράμματα σπουδῆς ἄξια καὶ τῆς βασιλέως βιβλιοθήκης, ἃ τοῖς ἐκείνων χαρακτῆρσιν καὶ τῇ διαλέκτῳ γεγραμμένα πόνον αὐτοῖς οὐκ ὀλίγον παρέξειν εἰς τὴν Ἑλληνικὴν μεταβαλλόμενα γλῶτταν. …  οὐδὲν οὖν ἔλεγεν κωλύειν καὶ ταῦτα μεταβαλόντα, δύνασθαι γὰρ τῆς εἰς αὐτὸ χορηγίας εὐποροῦντα, ἔχειν ἐν τῇ βιβλιοθήκῃ καὶ τὰ παρ᾽ ἐκείνοις.

In Ant. Jud. 1.7 he uses μεταφέρειν:

ὄκνος μοι καὶ μέλλησις ἐγίνετο τηλικαύτην μετενεγκεῖν ὑπόθεσιν εἰς ἀλλοδαπὴν ἡμῖν καὶ ξένην διαλέκτου συνήθειαν.

Now for a few other terms (but this is certainly not a complete list!). In a famous part of the Prol. to Ben Sira, we see μετάγειν used for translation: μεταχθῇ εἰς ἑτέραν γλῶσσαν. One Greek text that often refers to translation is, of course, the Letter of Aristeas (ET here; see recent discussion in T.M. Law, When God Spoke Greek, 35-39). Here are the places (probably not exhaustive) that I quickly picked out where translation, either as a noun or a verb, is mentioned. Words built on herm- are the favorite, and it does not seem that μεταβάλλειν appears there with reference to translation.

  • 11 Ἑρμηνείας προσδεῖται
  • 15 ἣν [sc. τὴν τῶν Ἰουδαίων νομοθεσίαν] ἡμεῖς οὐ μόνον μεταγράψαι ἐπινοοῦμεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ διερμηνεῦσαι (“…not only to copy, but also to translate” — μεταγράφειν can mean both “copy” and “translate”; cf. μεταγραφή in §§ 45 and 46)
  • 32 τὸ κατὰ τὴν ἑρμηνείαν ἀκριβές
  • 38 τὸν νόμον ὑμῶν μεθερμηνευθῆναι γράμμασιν Ἑλληνικοῖς ἐκ τῶν παρ᾽ ὑμῶν λεγομένων Ἑβραϊκῶν γραμμάτων
  • 45 ἡ τοῦ ἁγίου νόμου μεταγραφή (again in § 46)
  • 120 τὰ δὲ τῆς ἑρμηνείας (similarly again in § 308; cf. from § 307 below)
  • 301 παρεκάλει τοὺς ἄνδρας τὰ τῆς ἑρμηνείας ἐπιτελεῖν
  • 305 ἐτρέποντο πρὸς τὴν ἀνάγνωσιν καὶ τὴν ἑκάστου διασάφησιν (διασάφησις here might mean “translation”, but it could also be “explanation”, i.e. each person’s explanation of what had had been read. For another place where the word occurs, twice, certainly not meaning “translation”, see Acta Petri et Andreae § 15, p. 124.5, 124.7 in the ed. of Bonnet and Lipsius.)
  • 307 τὰ τῆς μεταγραφῆς (“the work of the translation”)
  • 308 παρόντων καὶ τῶν διερμηνευσάντων (the translators); in 310 we find τῶν ἑρμηνέων οἱ πρεσβύτεροι, and in 318 τοὺς ἑρμηνεῖς
  • 310 Ἐπεὶ καλῶς καὶ ὁσίως διηρμήνευται καὶ κατὰ πᾶν ἠκριβωμένος
  • 314 τινὰ τῶν προηρμηνευμένων ἐπισφαλέστερον ἐκ τοῦ νόμου προσιστορεῖν (“to tell in addition some parts from the earlier, less reliable, translations of the law”)


Old Georgian phrases and sentences 11   Leave a comment

Jn 16:33, Pre-Athonite and Athonite:

მე მიძლევიეს სოფელსა.

ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον.

The Adishi version, instead of the perfect (a-me-victum-est = vici), has the aorist ვსძლე.

Posted August 5, 2013 by adam_bremer-mccollum in Georgian

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