Post St. Augustine’s Day Post

Actually, I ended up celebrating St. Augustine’s Day by finishing the editing of the bibliography and footnotes for my next translation, St. Bede’s On the Valiant Woman. This is the standalone section (about Prov. 31:10-31) of his Book of Proverbs commentary. It was probably written first, and there were a fair number of manuscript versions of it. The Glossa Ordinaria notes for the Bible at times drew heavily from it, and it was quoted as authoritative by a lot of later guys. It was also a prime source of readings in the old Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours, especially for St. Mary Magdalene’s feast, and for the feasts of holy women who were married.

This was supposed to be an easy little project. It was supposed to come out last year, with only about two weeks’ work. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Hurst critical edition didn’t really dig deep into finding either Scriptural citations or quotes from the Fathers that were being referenced. Obviously it’s a lot easier overall to find those quotes nowadays, what with the magic of search engines; but it’s a lot of work all the same. Also, Hurst found a fair number of Scripture and Fathers quotes that zipped right by me, so I definitely appreciate his work! Both Beatus and Bede throw in some secular Latin quotes from the poets, too. Not super-often, mind you, but a bit more often than past critical editions gave them credit for.

Anyway, Bede’s not nearly as intricate in his quoting as Beatus of Liebana, but it’s still pretty noticeable that he does quote. We know that his own handwritten manuscripts included citations of his quotes in the side margins, and apparently he asked people to copy these. If they had just done as he asked back then, we’d have a lot easier time today!

My basic policy was to look at the interesting phrases and run a search (sometimes but not always including grammatical variants, like versions in different case or number), then record any pre-Bede results as footnotes. If it turned out to be a common Latin idiom or apparently original to Bede, fine. If it looked like a deliberate quote, I wrote it down. I’m sure this sort of search process will eventually be standardized and automated, probably assisted by the sort of “authorial voice” analysis programs that are being worked on now. But even my crude process did produce some pretty decently plausible results! I hope it will help scholars.

So now On the Valiant Woman (including a fair number of St. Augustine quotes) has been uploaded to the KDP Kindle publishing site, and it’s “in review,” getting checked by Amazon ebook distribution folks. With any luck, it’ll be out later today.

Re: pricing, I’m experimenting. Amazon wants me to raise my prices, but I also have the mighty power of running sales. So we’ll see.

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Happy St. Brian’s Day!

Today is the feastday of St. Brian Arrowsmith, martyr. During the horrible persecutions of Queen Elizabeth I, he managed to work among English Catholics for 15 years. When he was finally caught and went to prison, he was unexpectedly released by King James I and expelled from England. So he got his strength back, joined the Jesuits, and returned for five more years’ work before he was caught again and executed.

He’s better known by his Confirmation name, as St. Edmund Arrowsmith. He preferred that name, so normally I’d say “go with it.” But I’ve seen people doubting before whether Brian really was a proper Christian name, so here you go! His parents were Catholics, they gave him a perfectly reasonable Christian name at his Baptism, and now it’s the name of a martyr. Good stuff all around.

Another martyr with roots in the North of England was Blessed Brian Lacey. Betrayed by his own brother, he was tortured and martyred just for encouraging his fellow Catholics and for helping and hiding priests.

Of course, Brian also applies from the martyrs of the clan of the ui Bhriain (O’Brian or O’Brien).

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Boys’ Adventure in Real Life

It began with a paleontologist dad getting the kids out of his hair.

Of course, the next step is for the kids and the curator (or his kid) to overhear some burglars planning to loot the exhibition, and to foil their nefarious plan.

In other boys’ adventure news, four kids strike gold — and obviously there is some kind of ghost or strange destiny involved, if you read all the way to the end of the story!

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The West Coast Is Trying to Kill You

As the California tourist bureaus aren’t anxious for you to know, everybody who goes out to Monterey for the Defense Language Institute gets the “creeping crud,” otherwise known as “Valley fever” (that doesn’t sound scary) or “coccidioidomycosis” (that does sound scary!). It can give you a nasty fungal pneumonia, or in really bad cases, infest your whole body and give you meningitis. Ew!

In fact, Monterey may be the ideal place to catch it, but the fungus is all over the Southwest (especially Arizona), just waiting to get you. I caught it in LA on a brief visit, for example, and it made me sicker than a dog. It took me months and months to get over it, because NOBODY TOLD ME what it was or how bad it could get. Nor am I the only one. The CDC calls it “a silent epidemic.” Earthquakes and construction stir up the soil the fungus lives in, so outbreaks of the disease tend to follow. It travels on the wind. Yay!

Your dog, cat, and many other mammals can also catch the disease (because really, it’s not so much a disease as fungus using you as its Petri dish). There is no vaccine, but there are antifungal drugs you can taken internally (if you know what you have!). A lot of people have it and get over it without any symptoms, though.

Also, the Southwest is full of bubonic plague carried by mice.

Now if that wasn’t bad enough, LA and British Columbia have a new happy little fungus also trying to destroy your lungs and give you fungal meningitis. Unfortunately, it’s a lot better at it. Meet Cryptococcus gattii!

It’s a great life if your immune system doesn’t weaken….

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Tired But Making Progress

My translation of Bede’s commentary On the Valiant Woman has been sitting on my computer, mostly done, since last year. So I spent all of the last couple days and a good part of today cleaning it up, finishing searching for Bible citations and references to the Fathers, making footnote links active in both directions for Amazon’s benefit (it’s now a requirement, with tablets having so much easier a time following in-book links) and creating a cover.

I still have to finish cleaning up the material inside the footnotes to be standard and consistent throughout the book, and getting the bibliography done and looking professional. Ugh. I don’t really mind editing, but I hate realizing I’ve inadvertently made myself a mess. My preferred work mode is to have all the format questions decided ahead of time, so that I can just work.

On the bright side, Amazon does let people upload epubs now, and the results end up looking pretty good. So I won’t have to go converting anything.

Also, I took some time to redo my Beatus cover, and it’s looking much more professional.

New Amazon cover Aug 2014

And here’s my proposed Bede cover.


Please tell me what you think!

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There Is a Balm in Galahad

If you read older sources, the older name for Galahad is “Galaad.” That’s the Latin Vulgate spelling of “Gilead.” Sometimes you see people adding an extra H for their pronunciation convenience, and that probably would be where the H in Galahad came from.

Of course, Gilead probably came in as a Latin/English/Frenchification of his original name, Gwalchavad, which is super-Welsh and would be way too hard to say if you weren’t from Wales or Brittany. Defaulting to a nice Biblical name would have been a good compromise. It may have led to Galahad becoming more saintly of character, too.

Anyway, I’ve known this for a while, but it’s not something obvious or well-known, so I thought I’d throw it up there for the Internet’s sake.


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Sometimes “Pueri” Means Children, But Sometimes “Boys.”

I love reading the Vulgate. Seriously, it is so fun that I imagine reading the Greek must be really, really fun.

So I run smack dab into a familiar reading from John 21:1-14, but it’s in Latin, so I read it a little differently:

“Dixit ergo eis Jesus: ‘Pueri, numquid pulmentarium habetis?'” (Jn. 21:5)

“Therefore, Jesus said to them, ‘Boys, don’t you have any relish?’

Heh. First of all, since the apostles are out fishing nekkid (in the practical ancient Mediterranean way when it was warm enough), it’s pretty clear that you can read it as “boys” or “lads,” not the generic “children.” If you want to, anyway.

Second, it cracks me up. “Any luck, kids? Wanna sell me some fish?” When of course He knows they’ve pulled up nada all night. Hence Jerome using “numquid,” which expects a no. (The Greek has to be less succinct and actually include “not.)

Third, the Greek ancient world felt that bread was your main dish (“opsarion”) for filling your belly, whereas fish was “relish” (“prosphagion”) that you ate as a condiment or improvement to your bread. Greeks thought it was greedy to eat more fish than bread. This comes up a lot in classical Greek stuff, so I guess it makes sense that it continued into later history.

I don’t think it was such a thing with the Romans (or they didn’t care if the Greeks thought they were greedy). Anyway, there was a Gentile city close to the Sea of Galilee and the apostles and Jesus apparently spoke Greek and were influenced somewhat by Greeks, so that’s why Jesus said that. Jerome’s “pulmentarium” is a direct translation of the Greek.

Interestingly to me, cheese and eggs also were regarded as “prosphagion” by the Byzantines, while vegetables didn’t really count as anything, and bread was still opsarion, the main dish. So maybe the fasting from cheese and eggs and fish in the East is really fasting from “relish,” whereas most of the West never thought of protein as optional for meals even when protein was hard to afford. (And there’s a lot less protein in Western grains than in ancient Greek grains, and we don’t have olives to add more protein to beans; so there may be good reason for that.) So that’s probably part of why fasting regulations have been loosened by the bishops of the West for pastoral reasons (although there’s a fair amount of individual loosening by priests in the East for pastoral reasons).

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