February 2009

I’ve done a handful of posts on unicode fonts.  As mentioned here, I just use the windows Greek (polytonic) keyboard since I can stay in one font and type in English, Greek, German, French, etc.  just by hitting alt-shift.  For Greek the consonants and vowels are pretty straight forward (though a couple are different from BibleWorks), but I always forget if something needs a shift, ctrl, alt-gr, etc. for the accents. So, I’ll typically hunt on the internet for it, but never seem to find it right off.  I found this handy Windows Greek keyboard map and thought I’d post it for anybody else:



I just stumbled upon some cool news: Biblia Patristica is online at BIBLindex!  I blogged previously about how to look up Patristic Biblical Citations, where I noted that Steven Harmon recommends looking at Biblia Patristica first.  (Also, see this post on online patristic resources.)  Besides the published volumes (see below), the website includes information from unpublished Biblia Patristica work and also Center for Patristics Analysis and Documentation (CADP), citations from both are marked in red (as ‘unverified’).  The inclusion of this unpublished information is great. I appears that they are working hand in hand with Source Chrétiennes.

You have to register, but it’s quick and painless. The search function could be a little more user friendly, but once you get used to it, it’s not a big deal.  After selecting your criteria (biblical passage and patristic author/area), you have to hit the plus sign before you go on.  The search results are not that easy to scroll through, but it appears to give you the critical edition (e.g., SC for Irenaeus) along with the passage citation.

Biblia Patristica general info: Seven volumes have been published to date, along with a supplementary volume for biblical references in Philo of Alexandria, who served as an exegetical model for many patristic authors.  The entries do not distinguish between quotations and allusions, and criteria for the latter are rather loose. (Began in 1975, latest volume in 2000.)

  • Volume 1: beginnings of extracanonical Christian literature up to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.
  • Volume 2: Third century, apart from Origen.
  • Volume 3: Origen
  • Volume 4: Fourth century, includes Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis.
  • Volume 5: covers Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Amphilochius of Iconium. 
  • Volume 6: Latin writers, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, and the Ambrosiaster.
  • Volume 7: Didymus the Blind.

12 February: Andrew Louth (Univeristy of Durham), Eucharist and the Church in the theology of St Maximos the Confessor

19 February: No Seminar, as Professor Judith Herrin is giving a lecture, ‘What is Byzantium?’ at 5.30 in the Curtis Auditorium, Hershel Building, University of Newcastle

26 February: Philip Van der Eijk (University of Newcastle), Philosophy, Christianity and Medicine. Nemesius on the Nature of a Human Being

5 March, Krastu Banev (Univeristy of Durham), Theophilos of Alexandria and the Monks: a new look at the Origenist Controversy

12 March, Francis Watson (Univeristy of Durham), Beyond Suspicion? Clement of Alexandria and the ‘Letter to Theodore’

Grammars. I’ve used all of these:

    • J.D. Manton, Introduction to Theological German. It’s short and a little outdated in format, but for those that need a quick in and out, it is still useful, especially if you already have a background in other languages (esp. Greek).
    • April Wilson, German Quickly. This is more robust and will guide you through the in’s and out’s of the language. It’s focus is German in general.
    • Helmut Ziefle, Modern Theological German. This is half a graded reader and half a glossary of theological German. Great to pair with Manton and Wilson to practice the use of the language theologically.
    • As an alternative to Wilson, check out this web-based open access German Grammar: A Foundation Course in Reading German, by Howard Martin, revised and expanded as an open online textbook by Alan Ng.


Dictionaries.  The standard online German-English dictionary that we all use around here is Leo.  It’s saved me tons of time; however, it is not always that good with theological terms.  The other day I came across Dict.cc, and I’ve found it very helpful.  It’s like a wiki-dictionary since users can contribute and vet new definitions.  As such, its beginning to outpace Leo on vocabulary.  In some circumstances, I’ve found it better for looking up phrases as well.  In addition, it provides links to Google, Wikipedia, et al. if it doesn’t have an entry, from which I found several definitions.

Translators.  In the past the best online translator I had found was FreeTranslation.com.  I tried Google’s translator out recently, and it is significantly better than it was a year or two ago, though it still spits out ridiculous things sometimes.  Online translators are not always helpful because they tend to struggle with the same constructions I do (e.g., lassen constructions).

Vocabulary. Here’s a link back to a German vocab list that I pulled together based on a few sources: German Vocabulary.  One note though, after doing a bit of German over the past three years, I’ve decided that I would have spent less time on learning vocab once I got through the basics and would have spent more time just translating, mostly because you can end up learning a bunch of vocab that is irrelevant.  Rather, I think it’s better to just translate and thus learn words that you’ll actually see.

I don’t spend as much time translating French, but I’ve found WordReference.com to be a handy French-English dictionary.

Do y’all have any other recommendations?

I just learned about a nice resource from the British Library: EthOS, which appears to be the rough equivalent of the UMI database in the states.  They are in the process of digitising all the PhD theses from participating institutions so that you can download them directly (mostly as pdf’s) for free or pay for a print version.  For theses not yet digitised, there is only a 10 day waiting period.  In addition, those listed for the past 2 or 3 years have abstracts available.

All the major Scottish universities are full participants (Edinburgh, St. Andrew’s, Aberdeen, Glasgow) and many of the English and Welsh universities.  Notable absentees are Oxbridge.  Durham allows theirs to be listed but not downloaded.

While doing some reading on the Stoics, I came across this interesting discussion about Calvin and the Stoics.  He wrote a commentary on Senaca’s On Mercy (1532).  Sellars writes:

In his own preface, Calvin defends Senaca against both ancient and modern critics, proclaiming that ‘our Seneca was second only to Cicero, a vertiable pillar of Roman philosophy’ (Battles & Hugo, 11).  Having worked on the text so closely, Calvin was inevitably influenced by Seneca, whether positively or negatively, but the extent to which Seneca’s Stoicism contributed to Calvin’s later religious thought is much harder to determine.  Some have suggested that Stoic notions of determinism and an internal moral law helped to shape his religious outlook (Beck, 110), and others have gone so far as to suggest that ‘Calvinism is Stoicism baptized into Christianity’ (see Battles & Hugo, 46*), but no doubt the truth of the matter is somewhat more complex than this emphatic statement claims. p. 142

John Sellars, Stoicism (Bucks, UK: Acumen, 2006).
FL Battles & AM Hugo, Calvin’s Commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia (Leiden: Brill, 1969).
LW Beck, Early German Philosophy: Kant and his Predecessors (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1969).