Friday, May 10, 2019

XVIII. International Conference on Patristic Studies at Oxford

Every four years the International Conference on Patristic Studies meets at Oxford. This year it meets from August 19–24, and I’ve made plans to participate.

Dr. Francesca Barone (Chargée de recherche au CNRS) and I have organized a workshop entitled, “Early Christians and the Books at the Edges of the Canon” [proposal PDF]. The papers to be presented in the workshop are as follows:
Alessandro De Blasi: Gregory Nazianzen’s poem I 1, 12: On the Genuine Books of the Holy Scripture 
John Meade: Origen and the Disputed Books: A Reappraisal of the Evidence for an Origenic Recension of Books Outside the Hebrew Canon 
Francesca Barone: The Book of Esther in John Chrysostom’s Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae  
Edmon Gallagher: Jerome’s Use of the Deuterocanonical Literature 
Claudine Cavalier: Between the Sages and the Fathers: Esther, a key book
I plan to combine some of my interests in this paper: Origen’s work as grammarian and the disputed books. Here is the abstract of my paper:
In the first half of the third century, Origen created a six-columned synopsis, the Hexapla (perhaps more columns were added as needed for books like Psalms), for those books that were extant in Hebrew, the Seventy, and the Three Jewish revisers (Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion). Debatably, from this work, Origen published a corrected edition of the version of the Seventy. This revised version of the Seventy went through further corrections at the hands of Pamphilus and Eusebius (cf. the many colophons bearing their names in these contexts). But did Origen make a revised edition of the Greek version for the disputed books? In this paper, I will survey the evidence for Origen’s recension of the disputed books for which there seems to be evidence: Baruch, Sirach/Ben Sira, Wisdom of Solomon, and Judith. After surveying the relevant data, I analyze the evidence of a revision of Sirach/Ben Sira further before drawing some preliminary conclusions about Origen’s textual work on this book and others like it.
The overall program for the conference appears to be full of very interesting papers. I look forward to gathering with friends and colleagues in Oxford. It will be my first visit there, and I could not be more excited about it.


  1. Do I understand correctly that this session only deals with books belonging to what is sometimes called the Old Testament Apocrypha, and not with other Pseudepigrapha or early Christian works outside that group that were of debated canonical status among some Church fathers?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Eric. Mostly, you are right. However, Esther was a disputed book in the early period but not an apocryphal book in the later period. So it fits well in this workshop. Other books could have been included. We just didn’t get any papers related to Enoch, for example.

  2. You could be more excited if it were in Cambridge.

    1. Next time, the Text & Canon Institute directors will have to visit Cambridge.