A Labor Day Prayer

A prayer for guidance in the work we do. Promoting the common good.

Labor Day 00

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

Gospel Commentary in Latin found after 1500 years …

The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century.

Saint Jerome at work

This article was originally posted by Hugh Houghton on The Conversation, August 23, 2017.

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The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century.

The biblical text of the manuscript is of particular significance, as it predates the standard Latin version known as the Vulgate and provides new evidence about the earliest form of the Gospels in Latin.

Despite references to this commentary in other ancient works, no copy was known to survive until Dr Lukas Dorfbauer, a researcher from the University of Salzburg, identified Fortunatianus’ text in an anonymous manuscript copied around the year 800 and held in Cologne Cathedral Library. The manuscripts of Cologne Cathedral Library were made available online in 2002.

Scholars had previously been interested in this ninth-century manuscript as the sole witness to a short letter which claimed to be from the Jewish high priest Annas to the Roman philosopher Seneca. They had dismissed the 100-page anonymous Gospel commentary as one of numerous similar works composed in the court of Charlemagne. But when he visited the library in 2012, Dorfbauer, a specialist in such writings, could see that the commentary was much older than the manuscript itself.

In fact, it was none other than the earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels.

Pearls of wisdom

In his De Viris Illustribus (Lives of Famous Men), written at the end of the fourth century, Saint Jerome, who was also responsible for the revision of the Gospels and the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Vulgate, included an entry for Fortunatianus – who had been bishop of the northern Italian diocese of Aquileia some 50 years earlier. This prominent cleric had written a Gospel commentary including a series of chapter titles, which Jerome described as “a pearl without price” and had consulted when writing his own commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.

Later Christian authors, such as Rabanus Maurus and Claudius of Turin, searched for it in vain. As with so many works from antiquity, it seemed to have been lost, the remaining copies destroyed in a Vandal raid or eaten by mice in a dusty library.

Among the features which attracted Dorfbauer’s attention was a long list of 160 chapter titles detailing the contents of the commentary, which corresponded to Jerome’s description of Fortunatianus’ work. In addition, the biblical text of the Cologne manuscript did not match the standard version of the Gospels produced by Jerome, but seemed to come from an earlier stage in the history of the Latin bible.

Groundbreaking discovery

This was where the University of Birmingham came in. The university’s Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) is home to long-term projects working on new editions of the Bible in Greek and Latin. As a specialist in the Latin New Testament, I was able to compare the biblical quotations in the Cologne manuscript with our extensive databases. Parallels with texts circulating in northern Italy in the middle of the 4th century offered a perfect fit with the context of Fortunatianus.

Astonishingly, despite being copied four centuries after the last reference to his Gospel commentary, this manuscript seemed to preserve the original form of Fortunatianus’ groundbreaking work.

Such a discovery is of considerable significance to our understanding of the development of Latin biblical interpretation, which went on to play such an important part in the development of Western thought and literature. In this substantial commentary, Fortunatianus is reliant on even earlier writings which formed the link between Greek and Latin Christianity.

This sheds new light on the way the Gospels were read and understood in the early Church, in particular the reading of the text known as “allegorical exegesis” in which elements in the stories are interpreted as symbols. So, for example, when Jesus climbs into a boat on the Sea of Galilee, Fortunatianus explains that the sea which is sometimes rough and dangerous stands for the world, while the boat corresponds to the Church in which Jesus is present and carries people to safety.

There are also moments of insight into the lives of fourth-century Italian Christians, as when the bishop uses a walnut as an image of the four Gospels or holds up a Roman coin as a symbol of the Trinity.

English translation

In the form of a single (no longer anonymous) manuscript, or even a scholarly edition of the Latin text, it will still be some time before this work becomes as widely known as the famous writings of later Christian teachers such as Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome.

For that reason, I have worked closely with Dr Dorfbauer to prepare an English translation of his full Latin edition of the commentary, the first ever to be produced.

This will enable a much wider audience to take account of this rediscovered work. In fact, this English version may be the form in which most people will encounter Fortunatianus’ commentary – as studying languages is now a much smaller component in theological study and online translation tools are beginning to produce more satisfactory results.

But for the fullest appreciation of this work, it will still be necessary to put alternatives to one side and consult the original – which is how the commentary was rediscovered in the first place.

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About the Author: (Hugh Houghton)  Reader in New Testament Textual Scholarship; Deputy Director, Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing, University of Birmingham.

US Disaster Program of Episcopal Relief and Development

As you consider donating to the relief of those harmed by wind, rain, and flood after Hurricane Harvey, check out the work of our own Episcopal Relief & Development.

Begin quoteEpiscopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program connects, equips and inspires leaders of US dioceses in The Episcopal Church to prepare for hazards that might affect their communities, to mitigate the impact of disasters and to help vulnerable people make a full and sustained recovery.

Notice: Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund

The US Disaster Program works with diocesan and congregational leadership in areas that have been affected by disasters. We partner with diocesan leaders by providing technical resources and connections to others around the country who have faced similar challenges, as well as access to the Ready to Serve volunteer database. …

Read more from ERD: US Disaster Program

15A: Christ and the Canaanite Woman

Art for Proper 15A in the RCL

Christ and the Canaanite Woman by Rembrandt

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Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn, began his career in Amsterdam where a large merchant class appreciated art and had the means to support it.  He gained early success but money management was not a priority with him and during the latter years of his life he struggled financially.  He continued to work steadfastly, however, and produced art of the highest order.

The biblical setting for the drawingChrist and the Canaanite Woman, is in the region of Tyre and Sidon; two ancient cities of Canaan on the Mediterranean Sea.  When Christ was there he was approached by a woman of Syrophoenician origin (far left in the drawing) who begged him to heal her daughter.  It was suggested by the disciples that she be turned away but Christ made it known that his ministry was for everyone and the woman was granted her request.

Read the entire post here: 15A: Christ and the Canaanite Woman – St. Margaret’s News

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

 

A Morning of Unity and Justice

Sharing the news from our neighbor, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, CA

Rabbis David Lazar of Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs and Richard Zionts of the Har-El Institute for Study and Worship in the Reform Tradition joined us for worship Sunday Morning, August 20 to celebrate a Morning of Unity and Justice at St. Margaret’s. The day offered a celebration of our unity and God’s grace in […]

via A Morning of Unity and Justice — St. Margaret’s News

Artemisia Bowden, 1969 (Aug 18)

Artemisia Bowden—an invitation to you and me to trust in the grace of God to become the faithful witnesses of God’s love and mercy…

Wind in the Pines

Artemisia Bowden Artemisia Bowden

The Rt. Rev. James Steptoe Johnston, Bishop of the Missionary District of Western Texas (1888–1916), desired to provide education and skill development for newly emancipated blacks in the mission field. Bishop Johnston traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, in search of a young, black, female teacher. In 1902, Ms. Artemisia Bowden courageously accepted Bishop Johnston’s invitation and assumed leadership of the St. Philip’s Vocational Day School for Colored Children in San Antonio, Texas.

She began with less than ten students. After leading the school for 52 years, a small day school was transformed into a fully accredited junior college offering over 100 degree and certificate programs. In 2016, St. Philip’s College has an enrollment of over 11,000 students. St. Philip’s College carries the dual designation of being a Historically Black College and a Hispanic Serving Institution Bowden’s work, which began more than 110 years ago, continues to be an…

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Manteo and Virginia Dare (Aug 17)

Remembering our story

 

Baptism of Virginia Dare

In the late sixteenth century, Sir Walter Raleigh established three colonies along the northeastern coast of what is now the state of North Carolina. In July 1587, the third and final settlement, consisting of 120 men, women, and children under the leadership of John White, landed on Roanoke Island, near the present-day community of Nags Head.

With the colonists was Manteo, a Native American of the Algonquian nation and resident of Croatoan who had traveled to London in an earlier expedition to become a liaison between the English and the Native Americans. On August 13, 1587, Manteo was baptized, the first recorded baptism of the Church of England in the American colonies and the first recorded baptism of a Native American person in the Church of England. Read more

Holy Women, Holy Men

The Collect for the Commemoration

O God, you have created every human being in your image and each one is precious in your sight: Grant that in remembering the baptisms of Manteo and Virginia Dare, we may grow in honoring your gift of diversity in human life; become stronger in living out our baptismal vow to respect the dignity of every human being; and bring into the fellowship of the risen Christ those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

As God answers our prayer may we well and truly “become stronger in living out our baptismal vow to respect the dignity of every human life.” ~Fr. Dan

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.