In my hunt for something to do for the next couple of years, I’m planning on applying for a postdoc fellowship to translate Cyril of Alexandria’s Pauline commentaries.  I was given advice that my chances of success would increase greatly if I have a publisher locked in and if I could say that I’ve already done some work on the project.  After trading a couple of emails with a publisher recommended to me by a professor here, I’ve gotten a positive response on the idea but they said they would need a sample of the translation before making any commitment.  I definitely don’t have enough time to translate enough to warrant a contract so they said they would make a formal ‘expression of interest’ if I can get a substantive pience done.  With just a month or so before the application deadline, that is all I could ask for, so I’m shooting to do 1000 to 1500 words by the end of the month. 

So, I dipped my toe in Cyril’s commentary on Romans earlier this week.  After poking around my different links to sites that host copies of PG but without success because they were down, etc., I went to TLG.  I was happy to find that they use the standard critical text by Pusey.  I copied a chunk of the Greek into Word and tried my hand at it.  I made it through a bit, and fortunately it wasn’t too bad.  There were a few unknown words and a couple of optatives.  The nice thing about TLG is that it is tagged so if you turn on the links it will pull up parsing and basic glosses, though sometimes you have to look up a different version of the word yourself.  This TLG facility is quite helpful, and so it becomes a task of just putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Roger Pearse notes that Charles Sullivan has a 9 page document giving tips on the basic tools and techniques of translating Greek patristic writers: Translation Tips on the Greek Church Fathers.  He’s got lots of detail, but let me boil down his argument and supplement it with the little bit of experience I’ve gained here at Durham:

  • Look at LSJ first for words.  He recommends Perseus for this, but I’ve got it on Logos/Libronix and it’s quite handy that way.  I use the Logos and TLG versions in tandem because Logos is so much easier to navigate.
  • If you have a particularly theological word, you may also want to look in Lampe.  But know that Lampe is not exhaustive.
  • Use electronic databases (like TLG, etc.) to find parallel phrases in other writers/texts that have already been translated.
  • Avail yourself of the Latin translation in PG to help if you can’t figure something out in the Greek.

HT: Roger Pearse

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