Sunday, September 02, 2012

Bauer, Eusebius HE, Rufinus and Edessa – and the Syriac text

Yesterday I summarised, section by section, the content of chapter 1 ("Edessa") of Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy, with a view to working out just what, in plain terms, his argument was.  I shall do more on this next week, and reduce the book to a series of testable statements and propositions, which we may then evaluate.

Along the way I noticed an interesting statement to which I have referred before, but this time was able to address.

d) EH 5.23.4: At the time of the Roman bishop Victor (189-99), gatherings of bishops took place everywhere on the matter of the Easter controversy, and Eusebius still knows of letters in which the church leaders have set down their opinion. In this connection, the following localities are enumerated: Palestine, Rome, Pontus, Gaul, and then the "Osroëne and the cities there."

The phrase "and the cities there" is as unusual as it is superfluous. Where else are the Osroëne bishops supposed to have been situated except in the "cities there"?

But what speaks even more decisively against these words than this sort of observation is the fact that the earliest witness for the text of Eusebius, the Latin translation of Rufinus, does not contain the words "as well as from those in the Osroëne and the cities there." This cannot be due to tampering with the text by the Italian translator, for whom eastern matters are of no great concern. In those books with which he has supplemented Eusebius' History, Rufinus mentions Mesopotamia and Edessa several times (11.5 and 8 at the end; see below, n.24).