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Apocalypse of Paul. A New Critical Edition of Three Long Latin Versions.

Apocalypse of Paul. A New Critical Edition of Three Long Latin Versions. By Theodore Silverstein and Anthony Hilhorst. Pp. 216. 54 plates. (Cahiers d'Orientalisme, 21.) Geneva: Patrick Cramer, 1997. $95/SwFr 120.

The Apocalypse of Paul, with its descriptions of the delights of paradise and (particularly) the punishments of hell, became one of the most influential of the Christian apocrypha in the medieval West; it was even used by Dante in his Divine Comedy. But this apocryphon, originally composed in Greek in, probably, the third century, is found in many languages of western and eastern Christendom. The Latin version, usually known as Visio Pauli, is the most significant, but the Syriac, Coptic, and Slavic translations are crucially important in re-establishing the original forms and textual history of the book.

Despite the name of the series in which the book under review finds itself, the present edition is concerned only with the Latin tradition, and in particular with the so-called long Latin versions. The long version is closer to the original. (In the Middle Ages shortened versions in Latin were produced--Erbetta's collection of the New Testament apocrypha in Italian lists some eleven shorter versions, as does M. Geerard, Clavis Apocryphorum Novi Testamenti item 325.)

The editors are preeminently qualified to survey and edit this material. Theodore Silverstein, emeritus Professor of English at the University of Chicago, has been concerned with this apocryphon since 1930 when he wrote a Ph.D thesis on it for Harvard University. He published a history of the Latin versions in 1935 in the prestige series Studies and Documents. This work is still referred to with profit. Since then a stream of articles and studies has continued to come from his pen. His collaborator now is Anthony Hilhorst, who translated this apocryphon in A. F. J. Klijn's Dutch translation of the Christian apocrypha. Hilhorst is also actively involved with the Hungarian-Dutch team at work on the apocryphal Acts. Geerard anticipated the present book in 1992 in his Clavis p. 205.

Together, Silverstein and Hilhorst introduce the Western tradition of this book, and its principal manuscripts, and they provide an exhaustive Bibliography, far exceeding that previously found in, say, Geerard, Erbetta, or my own Apocryphal New Testament (=ANT). The 18 pages of Bibliography are divided into general works, the Greek text, each of the Latin witnesses included here, the Middle German, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Coptic, Slavic, and Ethiopic versions.

The bulk of the book is the setting out in full of the various forms of the longer text. The editors divide the longer Latin forms into three: [L.sup.1], [L.sup.2], and [L.sup.3], [L.sup.1], dating perhaps from the fifth century, is found in the Paris manuscript first edited by M. R. James and used as the basis for my English translation in ANT (James dated the part of the manuscript containing the folios with the Visio Pauli to the eighth century), and in a ninth-tenth century manuscript of St Gallen, edited by Silverstein in his Studies and Documents volume. Both texts are set out here in parallel columns throughout Visio Pauli 1-44. The St Gallen manuscript contains some material absent from the Paris manuscript, particularly in chapters 14 ff. concerning the going-out of souls at death. The Paris text begins with the so-called Tarsus Preface, which explains how the text to follow was located buried in the foundations of Paul's house. (That story comes as an epilogue in the Syriac.) There are other minor differences throughout the Paris and St Gallen manuscripts; these are readily identified in this synoptic presentation. The text-type designated [L.sup.1] here is supported in chapters 18-23, 25-31 by a tenth century manuscript in El Escorial, edited by Guillermo Antolin in 1908. This text is also printed in parallel to the major texts. A fourth column on the double-page presentation of this longer text is given to the editio princeps of a fifteenth century manuscript in Arnhem containing chapters 3-44. Because this is its first publication the editors give an appropriately large amount of space to this manuscript's distinctive textual characteristics in their introductory chapter on the Western tradition. Although its text stays close to that in the Paris/St Gallen manuscripts, there are some striking differences from these, and also some similarities to the Slavic and Syriac tradition. The Arnhem translation seems to be an independent rendering from a variant Greek original. Hence, although the Arnhem manuscript appears alongside the other three [L.sup.1] texts, it has been labelled [L.sup.3].

Visio Pauli chapters 45-51, containing an account of the second visit by Paul to paradise, is found in Latin [L.sup.1] only in the Paris manuscript.

[L.sup.1] was probably produced from a revised edition of the original Greek. The Tarsus Preface refers to the period of the proconsulship of Theodosius the Younger. Our editors argue against the commonly given date (388) and in favour of 420. The Latin version was known by the beginning of the sixth century. This Latin is often a closer guide to the underlying Greek than the sometimes abbreviated Greek text edited and published by Tischendorf. (Silverstein and Hilhorst state (p. 19 n. 4) that Tischendorf's two manuscripts were a thirteenth century manuscript now in Venice and one of the fifteenth century in Munich, whereas the Munich manuscript is normally dated by scholars to the thirteenth century, and the other manuscript is said by Tischendorf to be of the fifteenth century and in Milan. The Bodleian has a tiny Greek fragment of chapter 54.)

[L.sup.1] although also a witness to the `longer text', contains only Visio Pauli 3-6, 10-51. It is based on a Greek text different from that behind [L.sup.1] The entire text of three representatives of this text-type is set out in parallel columns. The manuscripts are a fourteenth century manuscript in Vienna containing chapters 17-37 originally published by Brandes in 1885, a fifteenth century manuscript in Graz giving the full [L.sup.1] text, and a fifteenth century Zurich codex containing chapters 3-6, 10-14, 19-49. These three texts were edited by Carozzi in 1994; the independent witness of the Graz and Zurich texts was discussed by Silverstein in the 1976 Festschrift for R. W. Hunt. (Carozzi's work, which prints the text of the Graz and the Zurich manuscripts for the first time, was critically reviewed by Hilhorst in VC 50 (1996), 94-99.) Unlike the Greek and unlike [L.sup.1] and [L.sup.3] [L.sup.2] and all the later versions place the narrative in the third person (although it is interesting to note that the St Gallen manuscript, a representative of the [L.sup.1] text, nonetheless makes a shift towards the third person in chapters 20 and 43, suggesting that this change was already starting in the ninth century).

Silverstein and Hilhorst also set out in a separate section the text of a thirteenth century Middle German fragment containing the Apocalypse of Paul 23-25 because this fragment has close links with the [L.sup.2] type of text and thus shows that that text is older than the surviving manuscripts now containing it. This is provided with a translation into English.

Our description of the book make it plain that what we have here is a comparative study of only the longer Latin texts. The many Latin manuscripts containing the medieval abbreviated texts are not the concern of our editors. Nor is the present book a critical edition of this apocalypse--for that we still await the results of much needed study of the Syriac and Slavic versions. In any case, the longer Latin manuscripts are too divergent. The present detailed study of the earliest Latin should serve as an incentive and encouragement for further research to be undertaken.

The editors are interested in the Latinity of these manuscripts, and in each of the separate introductions to the seven Latin manuscripts they edit they give a good deal of attention to distinctive features of the manuscript's vocabulary, orthography, syntax, and grammar. They have been especially scrupulous in respecting the linguistic nature of the texts. James classicized the Latin of his Paris manuscript: our editors now preserve the distinctively Merovingian features of this manuscript's late Latin. Each column of text has an apparatus noting orthographical changes and scribal features. In addition, this apparatus indicates where the present editors accept or reject previous editors' emendations. It is of interest to note how frequently James' emendations and suggestions about the text of the Paris manuscript are accepted. A further apparatus at the base of each column of text contains cross references to Biblical citations and allusions, and also to patristic citations, especially of impedimenta mundi fecerunt eos miseros (chapters 10 and 20). When necessary the Biblical references are repeated at the base of more than one column.

The book ends with fifty-four plates. These include the full text of the Visio Pauli in the Paris manuscript, as the earliest and fullest long version in Latin. The printed pages setting out the text of this manuscript include the folio number at each page break and the column break in the original manuscript. This makes it easy to check on the transcript, although such a comparison would have been facilitated had these pages of plates not been bound in with the rest of the book but inserted in an envelope or reproduced as a companion volume, as is the case with the publication of the Bodmer texts. Such comparison is possible only for the Paris manuscript. For the other six Latin manuscripts only one representative plate apiece is reproduced, although, as is the case with the Paris manuscript, all the folio numbers are given in the printed pages throughout. The complete German fragment is also reproduced in two photographs on one plate.

Armed with these texts, set out as they are in a readily consulted form, I was pleased to find that my conjectured `beasts' in ANT in chapter 44 for P's nonsensical milia is ratified by animalia in the St Gallen and Arnhem text. The Paris manuscript's omission (by homoeoteleuton) of words in chapter 10 were made good in ANT from the Coptic: now we have here the full Latin text in the St Gallen and El Escorial manuscripts. `senem' at chapter 38, which is clearly wrong in the Paris and Arnhem manuscripts, is correctly given in [L.sup.2] (Graz and Zurich).

This spaciously printed quarto volume with its photographic plates is a handsome publication, for which we must thank the editors and publishers and express our gratitude also for the financial assistance of two Dutch grant-awarding bodies and of the University of Groningen. The edition of these texts is a worthy achievement, and one that should stimulate further interest in, work on, and understanding of the Visio Pauli. We also thank Professor Luccesi (who writes an Avant-Propos) for accepting this study into the intermittent series.
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Author:Elliott, J.K.
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1998
Words:1826
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