Theodoret of Cyrus: The Questions on the Octateuch. By Robert C. Hill


2 volumes. Volume 1 On Genesis and Exodus. Volume 2 On Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges and Ruth. Greek text revised by John F. Petruccione. English translation with introduction and commentary. Pp. volume 1 civ , 352 , volume 2 xxxii, 432 , Library of Early Christianity 1 and 2 , Washington D.C. , The Catholic University of America Press , 2007 , vol. 1 £25.50 , vol. 2 £21.50 .

With these two volumes, the Library of Early Christianity has, at long last, been born. The waiting has been worthwhile. The publishers, The Catholic University of America, intend to publish one new volume approximately every other year. The Library will consist of texts in the original language, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Greek, Latin, or Syriac, with English translations on facing pages. Each volume will include an introduction, notes and a bibliography.

If the editorial board can match the quality of these first volumes with those that come after, we shall owe another great debt of gratitude to the CUA Press.

Such an undertaking is so often nowadays a matter of team work and this one has worked diligently under the directorship of David McGonagle, Director of the CUA Press, and John Petruccione, Editorial Director of the LEC. Amongst others, Natalio Fernández Marcos (whose edition of the Questions was published in Madrid in 1979) has addressed issues around errata, variant readings and issues of punctuation, in addition to the contents and lacunae of individual manuscripts. Françoise Petit has worked on passages erroneously attributed to Theodoret by the Catena Nikephori. William McCarthy and Eustratios Papaioannou have assisted on matters of Greek usage and Dr McCarthy has provided some useful bibliographical suggestions. Robert Caldwell has helped with textual variants, points of translation and punctuation. Much of the indexing work has been carried out by Brent Gilbert. Susan Barnes, as editorial assistant, has aided in the achievement of a admirably clear and consistent text and translation.

Volume one opens with a comprehensive introduction to Theodoret's life and works, introduction to the Greek Text, bibliography and conspectus siglorum. The texts are supported by comments on the original Greek and contextualising notes that make the translation more accessible to the non-specialist. The second volume repeats the bibliography and conspectus and ends with a superb index scripturisticus, general index and index of modern authors.

Little has come down to us from this controversial fifth-century bishop from Antioch and far less, of course, is in English translation (we think of his anti-Monophysite dialogues, the Eranistes, his Ecclesiastical History and Religious History and various Commentaries). His exegetical works present a traditional typological interpretation of the Bible, manifestly ‘correcting’ both Origen's allegorical approach and Theodore of Mopsuestia's literalism. The choice of his Questions, then, is a bold one yet, together with his commentaries on Kings and Chronicles, Psalms, Song of Solomon, and the Major and Minor Prophets, they are amongst the finest examples of the Antiochene School. In sum, we have been served well by the CUA Press, not least in making Theodoret a little better known to his modern day audience.