Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Library of Caesarea: Exceptional or Representative?

6th cen. fresco discovered beneath the Lateran Chapel in
Rome, probably part of the ancient Lateran library
The previous article discussed the use of book-lists to inventory library collections in antiquity. George Houston's Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity, investigated several surviving book-lists on papyri and examined their features. These book-lists are representative of ancient practice and are illustrative of Christian book collections as well. In particular, Pamphilus cataloged the holdings of the Caesarean Library and later writers, such as Eusebius (Hist. eccl. 6.32.3), and Jerome (Vir ill. 38.), most likely utilized these lists in their studies.
But one may ask, "How representative of other Christian centers was the Caesarean Library? Was it exceptional?"

Early Christian Libraries
Eusebius tells us that Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, founded a library in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 3rd century (Hist. eccl. 6.20.1). This library of Jerusalem appears to have had extensive holdings and contained the works of Beryllus, Hippolytus, and the Dialogue of Caius with  Proclus (Hist. eccl. 6.20.2-3).
There seems to be no explicit mention of a library in Alexandria Egypt. But there was a famous catechetical school in Alexandria which flourished under Pantaenus in the late second century and later under Clement and Origen. Judging by the diversity of sources used by Clement and Origen (before he moved to Caesarea) there must have been an extensive library connected with the school (Gamble, Books and Readers, 161). It is likely that the Caesarean Library was patterned after the library of the catechetical school in Alexandria. Pantaenus personal library may have made up the nucleus of the Alexandrian catechetical school library in much the same way as Origen's personal library formed the nucleus of the Caesarean library.

Congregational Libraries
There are no other major libraries explicitly mentioned for other Christian centers in the first and second centuries. But most Church congregations would have had collections of Christian writings, epistolary material from inter-Church communications, and other archival material (Gamble, Books and Readers, 144). As early as the letter of 1 Clement (ca. 96 CE), one can ascertain that Clement must have had a modest library at his disposal in Rome for writing his letter to the Corinthian Church. Just a decade or so later Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 112 CE) indicated specific collections of writings when he referenced the "archives" of Old Testament writings (Ign. Phld. 8.2) and made reference to the letters of Paul (Ign. Eph. 12.2). The author of 2 Clement, in the early second century, alluded to specific book collections when making reference to "the books and the apostles" (2 Clem. 14.2).
Justin Martyr (ca. 140 CE) in Rome wrote of the universal practice of reading from Christian literature;
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. (Apology, 1.67; ANF 1:186)
Of course, reading every Sunday would be impossible if Church congregations had no collections of books from which to select.
Irenaeus of Lugdunum, Gaul (France, ca. 180), had an impressive array of Christian literature at his disposal, orthodox and gnostic (Haer. 1.31.2). These gnostic and "heretical" writings must have been largely available because Irenaeus criticized Christians for not reading and familiarizing themselves with their "false" doctrines (Haer. 4.preface.2.).
Melito of Sardis (died ca. 180), was a Jewish Christian who wrote extensively on the Passover, the canon of the Old Testament, and composed an Apology to Marcus Aurelius (Hist. eccl. 4.13.8; Vir ill. 24).
These Church fathers are merely representative of the prolific literary out-put of many Church leaders of the first through the third centuries (Hippolytus, Tertullian, etc). These scholars must have had extensive book collections at their disposal and many of them wrote expecting their readers to understand their references to Christian literature.
By the time of the great persecution under Diocletian in 303, book collections in Church congregations had become so numerous that Roman officials began to round them up and burn them (Gamble, Books and Readers, 145). Even in places as far reaching as the town of Cirta in Numidia North Africa Roman officials located extensive book collections (Gamble, Books and Readers, 145). The Martyrdom of St. Felix and The Martyrdom of Saints Agape, Irene, and Chione, each give evidence of sizable Church libraries (Gamble, Books and Readers, 145-148).
Mosaic of a Book Cabinet 5th cen.

Christian Book Lists
Let us return to our original question, "How representative of other Christian centers was the Caesarean Library? Was it exceptional?" When it came to the practice of inventorying the library holdings, the Caesarean library was no exception. This practice appears to have been common in Roman society (Houston, Inside Roman Libraries, 39-40). Besides Pamphilus's cataloging efforts, there is an example of a Church or monastic community inventorying their holdings in the papyrus fragment dating to the early fourth century, P. Ash. Inv. 3, which lists out Old Testament writings, Gospel writings, and even a copy of the Shepherd of Hermas (Gamble, Books and Readers, 149).
Certainly, the Caesarean library was exceptional in its connections with Origen, and Eusebius. But this library was not exceptional in its collecting of Christian literature and cataloging of its holdings, as it was a Roman practice to do so. Therefore, anywhere there was a book-collection, there was likely a book-list to go with it.

Gamble, Harry Y. Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995

Gregory, Andrew. The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Hill, C. E. Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Houston, George W. Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2014

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Library Lists and Early Christian Canon

I recently finished reading through George W. Houston's Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity. Houston's detailed study of Roman libraries has opened new ways of looking at early Christian book collections (see previous entry on the useful life of ancient books).

Ancient Papyrus Book Lists
In chapter two of Inside Roman Libraries, Houston recounted an offhand remark that Cicero made to his slave-scribe Tiro;
Put the books away, and compile the list when Metrodorus [the doctor] tells you it’s OK, since you have to live by his instructions. (Cic. Fam. 16; Houston, Inside Roman Libraries, 39, n 1)
Apparently Tiro had fallen ill and Cicero was sending some books his way and wanted him to write up a list, an inventory of the collection, as soon as the physician gave Tiro a clean bill of health. Compiling an inventory list of a book collection was a common practice in antiquity as Cicero's comment to Tiro illustrates. Several of these lists have managed to survive into modern times (see picture of P.Ross.Georg. 1.22). Houston examined these surviving papyrus book lists in detail in chapter two of Inside Roman Libraries. Besides giving the author's name and the title of the work, some of these lists inventoried the books in alphabetical order by the author's name, indicated a particular work's completeness, that is, whether all of the work was represented, and the number of opisthographs [a book copied on the back of a re-used roll] (Houston, Inside Roman Libraries, 43). One list in particular may even have given some indication as to where the books in the list were stored, in a case, or in a specific room (Houston, Inside Roman Libraries, 84).
P.Ross.Georg. 1.22, an ancient book list

The Book Lists of Pamphilus
The previous article briefly examined the library of Pamphilus, the copies he produced, and the long useful life these manuscripts may have had. Houston's examination of ancient book lists illuminates another aspect of Pamphilus's scholarly activity, his cataloging of the library holdings. Eusebius wrote in his Church History;
After showing how great the diligence of Pamphilus was in divine things, we give in that a catalogue of the library which he collected of the works of Origen and of other ecclesiastical writers. Whoever desires may learn readily from this which of Origen’s works have reached us. (Hist. eccl. 6.32.3; NPNF 1:277)
Apparently in Eusebius's Life of Pamphilus, which is no longer extant, he gave a detailed list of the holdings of the Caesarean Library. This detailed list was made by Pamphilus himself and helped Eusebius indicate to his readers which works of Origen were still present in the library. Jerome may have also worked from these inventory lists, which were still available in the 5th century, in order to write-out the titles of Origen's works in his letter to Paula (Ep. 33; Gamble, Books and Readers, 157).

Eusebius also gave a detailed list of Clement of Alexandria's works (Hist. eccl. 6.13). It is possible that Eusebius was working from another inventory list of Pamphilus that cataloged the library's holdings of Clement's works. Jerome seems to have worked from the same list when he wrote about Clement in his Lives of Illustrious Men (Vir ill. 38). Of course, Jerome could have simply been working from Eusebius's Church History, but because the lists in Eusebius and Jerome differ slightly, it is more likely that they were working from a similar source.
It is possible that these works of Clement and Origen were recognizable collections in the library of Caesarea and kept in specific containers, shelves, or rooms. As mentioned above, Houston noted in Inside Roman Libraries, that some of the book lists preserved on papyrus actually gave a location for the cataloged books (p. 84). Houston also noted that some collections retained their identities for quite some time, such as the book collections of Lucullus and Sulla (p. 36) Galen mentioned that the collections of  “Callinia, Atticiana, and Peducaeana,” which contained accurate copies of various works, were destroyed in a fire (Houston, Inside Roman Libraries, 29). The book lists of Pamphilus, and the recognizable collections in the Library of Caesarea that they cataloged, would have been valuable for ancient scholars who sought out the authentic works of Clement and Origen. These book lists could have functioned as a means by which scholars could check copies of Origen's or Clement's works in order to verify their authenticity and check their textual accuracy.

Early Canon Lists
If we can take the Caesarean Library and the inventory lists as representative of other Christian libraries, and I think there is good reason to assume this. Then, Church libraries of major Christian centers such as Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, Smyrna, Antioch, and others, would have had similar inventory lists of their collections as well. Perhaps these lists aided early Christians in verifying certain writings as "authentically" apostolic. The author of the Muratorian fragment may have drawn upon just such a book-list when describing which writings were being read and accepted as authentically apostolic (Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament, 305-307). By comparing the inventory lists of major Christian centers, an ancient scholar would be able to determine which writings were being studied and/or read in the Churches.

Gamble, Harry Y. Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Houston, George W. Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2014

Metzger, Bruce Manning. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Church Fathers and The Useful life of Ancient Books

I recently finished reading through George Houston's, Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity, and was struck by the wonderful insights that Houston discovered in his detailed study of Roman libraries. In many ways these insights illuminate the world of Christian book collections and manuscripts as much as they do Roman libraries.
This is especially true of Houston's observations on the useful life of papyrus book rolls. In the conclusion to Inside Roman Libraries, Houston wrote;
The identification of such collections, and of the manuscripts within them, provides new evidence on an old question: how long did a papyrus roll last? The evidence from our collections indicates that a usable lifetime of about 100 to 125 years was common and can reasonably be considered the norm; a small but significant number of manuscripts were still usable some 300 years after they were first created; and on rare occasions a manuscript might last, it seems, for half a millennium. (p. 257)
Houston's observations are helpful in understanding some of the references made by various Church fathers to ancient manuscripts consulted during their studies.

Irenaeus's Ancient Copies
Writing at the end of the second century, Irenaeus of Lugdunum, in his Against Heresies, discussed at length an important variant that was present in some manuscript copies of Revelation in circulation in his day. Irenaeus wrote that the number of the beast, 666, was "found in all the most approved and ancient copies" yet some manuscripts contained the number 616 (Hear. 5.30.1). If the average life of a papyrus book was 100 to 125 years, then it is possible that Irenaeus was referring to manuscripts that were 75 or more years old. It may be surmised then, that the manuscript copies that contained the 616 variant reading were not as old in Irenaeus's estimation. The Greek phrase used by Irenaeus here (preserved by Eusebius in Hist. eccl. 5.8) was ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς σπουδαίοις καὶ ἀρχαἰοις ἀντιγράφοις. The Greek word ἀρχαἰοις (ancient) used to describe the age of the manuscripts of Revelation that read 666 was the same word used by Irenaeus to describe Papias as "a man of the early period," or in the Greek, "ἀρχαἰος ἀνήρ" (preserved by Eusebius in Hist. eccl. 3.39). According to Eusebius, Papias was at the peak of his career near the beginning of Emperor Trajan's reign at around 100 CE (Hist. eccl. 3.39). Thus, in Irenaeus's mind, copies of Revelation that dated to the beginning of the second century would have been "ancient." And these copies would have been well within the 100 to 125 year useful life of papyrus manuscripts observed by Houston.

Tertullian and the Autographs
Writing in the early third century, Tertullian in Carthage North Africa wrote;
Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over to the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still preeminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally. (Praescr. 36; ANF 3:261; emphasis mine)
This has been a much disputed passage with discussions going at least as far back as Charles Hodge at Princeton University in the early 1800s.
The Latin word used by Tertullian here for "authentic writings" is "authenticae litterae." According to the Latin dictionary available on Perseus, this word means; "that comes from the author, authentic, original, genuine . . . the original writing, the original." It seems then that Tertullian was telling his readers that he thought the original apostolic documents were being read in the apostolic Churches in the early third century. It is difficult for me to accept that the original writings of, say, Paul were still existing at Rome or Corinth, but it may have been that very early copies of these writings were still being read in these Churches. If we consider the useful life of papyrus documents given by Houston, of 100 to 125 years with an upper limit of 300 years, then it is entirely possible that copies of Paul's letters dating to the later half of the first century were still being read in some Churches.

The Colophon of Pamphilus in Sinaiticus
In the fourth century manuscript of the Christian Bible, Codex Sinaiticus, there is preserved at the end of 2 Esdras and again at the end of Esther a colophon stating (from the end of 2 Esdras);
Collated against an extremely old copy corrected in the hand of the holy martyr Pamphilus, which copy at the end has a signature in his own hand, reading thus:
Copied from and corrected against the Hexapla of Origen
Antoninus collated
I, Pamphilus, corrected. (Parker, Codex Sinaiticus, 81)
According to Milne and Skeat, these corrections, and the corresponding colophon, date to the 6th or 7th century (Metzger, Text of the New Testament, 4th ed., 67). The Greek phrase in the colophon at the end of 2 Esdras reads "αντεβληθη προϲ παλαιω τατον λιαν αντιγραφον," the  Greek word παλαιω already means "old" but the adverb "λιαν" was added which means "very" or "extremely." Thus this manuscript must have been considered very old at the time and was valued for its textual pedigree. If we consider that Houston noted examples of papyrus book rolls still in use 300 and even 500 years after they were fabricated, then it is feasible that there was a 300 to 400 year-old copy of the Greek Bible corrected against the Hexapla by Pamphilus still present at the library of Caesarea.
Origen's Hexapla, and Pamphilus's copies were still present in Caesarea in the 5th century when Jerome wrote;
Pamphilus the presbyter, patron of Eusebius bishop of Caesarea, was so inflamed with love of sacred literature, that he transcribed the greater part of the works of Origen with his own hand and these are still preserved in the library at Caesarea. (Jerome, Vir ill. 75; NPNF 2:377)
The Second/Third Century New Testament Text
If Pamphilus's manuscripts were still available for reference in the 6th century, 300 years after they were copied, it may be representative of other major Christian centers. The Churches of Rome, Corinth, Antioch, Smyrna, Ephesus, Philippi, and others, may have had very old manuscripts of Christian writings available for reference and copying for several hundred years. Perhaps Irenaeus had sent a letter to Ephesus or Smyrna asking them to check their ancient copies of Revelation.
Manuscripts of the New Testament such as P66 and P75 give evidence of a high-quality textual pedigree and careful copying and, due to their extensive repairs, show evidence of a long useful life. Because of the apparent longevity of ancient books it is possible that the extant manuscripts of the New Testament preserved from the late second and early third century may have been copied from exemplars 100 years older and actually represent the state of the text at around ca. 100 CE and not just at ca 200 CE.

(For more discussion on explicit references to manuscripts in Church fathers, read here.)

Eusebius of Caesarea. The Ecclesiastical History, Books I-V. Translated by Kirsopp Lake. Vol 1. Loeb Classical Library. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926.

Gamble, Harry Y. Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Holmes, Michael W., ed. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek texts and English translations. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999.

Houston, George W. Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2014.

Metzger, Bruce Manning, and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Parker, D. C. Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World's Oldest Bible. London: British Library, 2010.