Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More from Burke on editing MNTA

THE APOCRYPHICITY BLOG: Editing More Christian Apocrypha, Part 3: It Takes a Village. More wisdom from Tony Burke. Parts 1 and 2 were noted here.
One of the difficulties of working with apocryphal texts is that the texts come in numerous forms, in multiple languages. We are all trained in at least one ancient language (typically Greek), many of us two (add Latin, Coptic, or Syriac), a few of us three or four (Arabic, Georgian, Armenian, perhaps a European vernacular), but no individual among us can work in all of them. Take the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, for example. When I worked on the text for my doctorate, I focused on the Greek tradition, but I also drew upon the Latin and Syriac. I could not, however, cover also the Ethiopic, Irish, Slavonic, and Georgian sources. I had to admit my limitations and do what I could.

Whereas dissertations are not designed to be collaborative projects, apocrypha collections, for the most part, are multi-author works, and there is an expectation that the translations and introductions will draw on all of the available evidence. Fortunately, the contributors to MNTA, both vol. 1 and 2, had the talents and abilities to make that possible.
Yes, we have had a similar experience with the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. The contributions in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures volume 1 translated texts from Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Greek, Hebrew, Old Irish, Latin, epigraphic Iron Age Northwest Semitic, and Syriac. So far, volume 2 is slated to include contributions translating from many of the same languages and more. Notably, I am currently working with the specialists who are translating the various versions and reflexes of the Book of Giants, which survive in Aramaic, Hebrew, Middle Persian, Sogdian, and Uigur (old Turkic).

By the way, I was also at a gathering of scholars at Ottawa that discussed creating a North American branch of an association devoted to the study of the Christian Apocrypha and producing a new collection of New Testament Apocrypha in English. I'm pretty sure this is the meeting Tony mentions, but it was in 2006, not 2008.

UPDATE: I see Tony has corrected the date.

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