Athanasius Contra Gentes

Stirling Bartholomew
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Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » June 17th, 2019, 4:13 pm

Having recently completed a year long study of Athanasius De Incarnatione I spent a few days constructing a section by section (1.1 ... 47.4) diglot of Contra Gentes. My first pass at section 1 last week wasn't too bad. Something changed and now I am having difficulty with it.

This morning the very first sentence seems to have retreated into the fog. After working with it in detail this morning it sort of makes sense but it isn't perfectly lucid.
§ 1.1 Ἡ μὲν περὶ τῆς θεοσεβείας καὶ τῆς τῶν ὅλων ἀληθείας γνῶσις οὐ τοσοῦτον τῆς παρὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων διδασκαλίας δεῖται, ὅσον ἀφ' ἑαυτῆς ἔχει τὸ γνώριμον· μόνον γὰρ οὐχὶ καθ' ἡμέραν τοῖς ἔργοις κέκραγε, καὶ ἡλίου λαμπρότερον ἑαυτὴν διὰ τῆς Χριστοῦ διδασκαλίας ἐπιδείκνυται·

§ 1.1 The knowledge of our religion and of the truth of things is independently manifest rather than in need of human teachers, for almost day by day it asserts itself by facts, and manifests itself brighter than the sun by the doctrine of Christ. Trans. A. Robertson ?
Right from the first word the author launches with Ἡ ... γνῶσις with περὶ τῆς θεοσεβείας καὶ τῆς τῶν ὅλων ἀληθείας in the gap between the article and the noun. I am used to that now. The rest of the sentence presents other challenges. The postponing of the finite verb is also something very common but it still bothers me to have all the arguments stacked in front waiting for a verb to show up. There are also idioms used in a manner that I not familiar with, μόνον ... οὐχὶ for example.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

Bruce McKinnon
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Bruce McKinnon » June 17th, 2019, 9:14 pm

Stirling, I'm hoping to have a closer look at the Greek in the future but I've stumbled across this online English translation: https://www.elpenor.org/athanasius/contra-gentes.asp.

The translation appears identical to the one you tentatively attributed to Robinson. But, according to the website, it was by Cardinal John Newman.
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Peng Huiguo
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Peng Huiguo » June 18th, 2019, 12:36 am

it still bothers me to have all the arguments stacked in front waiting for a verb to show up
Or having a relative pronoun that sends you back, and back to find its antecedent, like the οὗ in Ephesians 3:7.

Does "μόνον οὐχὶ... καὶ" seem to you "not just... [but] also"?
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » June 18th, 2019, 11:41 am

Bruce McKinnon wrote:
June 17th, 2019, 9:14 pm
Stirling, I'm hoping to have a closer look at the Greek in the future but I've stumbled across this online English translation: https://www.elpenor.org/athanasius/contra-gentes.asp.

The translation appears identical to the one you tentatively attributed to Robinson. But, according to the website, it was by Cardinal John Newman.

Yes. Your right. I was confused because one place I read that Cardinal John Newman's work had been edited by Archibald Robinson. So we will call it a translation by John Henry Newman.
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Peng Huiguo
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Peng Huiguo » June 18th, 2019, 12:35 pm

Disregard the Ephesians comment. My brain is kinda fried recently.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 18th, 2019, 12:38 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
June 17th, 2019, 4:13 pm
Having recently completed a year long study of Athanasius De Incarnatione I spent a few days constructing a section by section (1.1 ... 47.4) diglot of Contra Gentes. My first pass at section 1 last week wasn't too bad. Something changed and now I am having difficulty with it.

This morning the very first sentence seems to have retreated into the fog. After working with it in detail this morning it sort of makes sense but it isn't perfectly lucid.
§ 1.1 Ἡ μὲν περὶ τῆς θεοσεβείας καὶ τῆς τῶν ὅλων ἀληθείας γνῶσις οὐ τοσοῦτον τῆς παρὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων διδασκαλίας δεῖται, τοσοῦτον ἀφ' ἑαυτῆς ἔχει τὸ γνώριμον· μόνον γὰρ οὐχὶ καθ' ἡμέραν τοῖς ἔργοις κέκραγε, καὶ ἡλίου λαμπρότερον ἑαυτὴν διὰ τῆς Χριστοῦ διδασκαλίας ἐπιδείκνυται·

§ 1.1 The knowledge of our religion and of the truth of things is independently manifest rather than in need of human teachers, for almost day by day it asserts itself by facts, and manifests itself brighter than the sun by the doctrine of Christ. Trans. A. Robertson ?
Right from the first word the author launches with Ἡ ... γνῶσις with περὶ τῆς θεοσεβείας καὶ τῆς τῶν ὅλων ἀληθείας in the gap between the article and the noun. I am used to that now. The rest of the sentence presents other challenges. The postponing of the finite verb is also something very common but it still bothers me to have all the arguments stacked in front waiting for a verb to show up. There are also idioms used in a manner that I not familiar with, μόνον ... οὐχὶ for example.
For those of us who started with Latin before Greek, seeing a verb delayed to the end of a its clause and the main verb at the end of an entire sentence is not a surprise -- it's rather the norm, although in Greek it places some rhetorical stress on the verbs. I don't see the sentence above as really any more surprising, though, than some of the more complicated syntax in Acts or Hebrews. However, I am very unhappy with the translation above, to whomever we attribute it, which gives a barely adequate English rendering and completely ignores how the structure of the Greek contributes to the effect. I'm particularly thinking of the correlative τοσοῦτον...τοσοῦτον and the sandwiching of the main clause, giving it some real "oomph" in the sentence. I also think he completely misses the force of τῶν ὅλων and κέκραγε practically shouts for attention... :) His vocabulary is quite a bit livelier than the English translation would indicate.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 18th, 2019, 12:39 pm

Peng Huiguo wrote:
June 18th, 2019, 12:36 am
it still bothers me to have all the arguments stacked in front waiting for a verb to show up
Or having a relative pronoun that sends you back, and back to find its antecedent, like the οὗ in Ephesians 3:7.

Does "μόνον οὐχὶ... καὶ" seem to you "not just... [but] also"?
That was my first thought, but it doesn't fit, and this is better:

3. μόνον οὐ all but, well nigh, Ar.V.516, D.19.220, etc.; μόνον οὐκ ἐπὶ ταῖς κεφαλαῖς περιφέρουσι Pl.R.600d: in codd. freq. written μονονύ, Plb.3.109.2, etc.; μονονουχί D.1.2, Plb.3.102.4.

Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. (1996). A Greek-English lexicon (p. 1145). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Peng Huiguo
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Peng Huiguo » June 18th, 2019, 2:04 pm

μόνον οὐ all but, well nigh
Now that it"s pointed out, it's so obvious. "Only not/short of". Greek word order does create meaning other than discourse effect.
Last edited by Peng Huiguo on June 18th, 2019, 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » June 18th, 2019, 2:06 pm

I have moved on to section 1.2 which has some ambiguities.
§ 1.2 ποθοῦντι δέ σοι ὅμως τὰ περὶ ταύτης ἀκοῦσαι, φέρε, ὦ μακάριε, ὡς ἂν οἷοί τε ὦμεν, ὀλίγα τῆς κατὰ Χριστὸν πίστεως ἐκθώμεθα, δυναμένῳ μέν σοι καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν θείων λογίων ταύτην εὑρεῖν, φιλοκάλως δὲ ὅμως καὶ παρ' ἑτέρων ἀκούοντι.

§ 1.2 Still, as you nevertheless desire to hear about it, Macarius come let us as we may be able set forth a few points of the faith of Christ: able though you are to find it out from the divine oracles, but yet generously desiring to hear from others as well. —J.H. Newman
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Athanasius Contra Gentes

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » June 18th, 2019, 2:32 pm

Peng Huiguo wrote:
June 18th, 2019, 2:04 pm
μόνον οὐ all but, well nigh
Now that it"s pointed out, it's so obvious. "Only not/short of". Greek word order does create meaning other than discourse effect.
Right. I can't be bothered to use my hard copies of LSJ and Lampe and I was trying to read Contra Gentes w/o using a computer. That may be a lost cause. My study of On The Incarnation was done entirely on my Mac. Don't like to spend hours a day facing the glowing screen. But w/o access to hyperlinked lexicons you are at an enormous disadvantage.
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