Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review of Litwa, Refutation of All Heresies

M. David Litwa, Refutation of All Heresies. Translated with an Introduction and Notes. Writings from the Greco-Roman world, 40. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2015. Pp. lix, 824. ISBN 9780884140856. $99.95 (pb).

Reviewed by Pieter W. van der Horst, Utrecht University (
The new edition by David Litwa offers, after an introduction, a new Greek text, a fresh English translation on facing pages, explanatory notes, a bibliography, and indices locorum et rerum. Litwa understandably is critical of Marcovich’s cavalier treatment of the manuscript tradition and opts for a more conservative approach, although he does adopt quite a few readings proposed by Marcovich. The problem is that Litwa does not present us with a critical apparatus. Occasionally he offers some text-critical comments in his explanatory notes, but if the user wants to be informed about what is in the mss he/she still has to turn to Marcovich’s apparatus criticus. So although this edition should have replaced Marcovich’s idiosyncratic one, it does so only partly. That is not to say that Litwa’s text is not better than Marcovich’s. A random check of several dozen of places convinced me that it is. Yet another reason why we cannot discard Marcovich’s edition altogether is that it contains a very valuable index verborum (at pp. 436-541).
Whoever wrote it (and van der Horst is confident that it wasn't Hippolytus), the Refutatio omnium haeresium is an important source for lost ancient literature, particularly that of the Pre-Socratic philosophers and of the Gnostics.