Two early Latin translations of Athanasius' Vita Antonii

March 21, 2019

Pascal Bertrand and Lois Gandt present a critical edition of the two oldest Latin translations of the Life of Antony by Athanasius of Alexandria.

 

Shortly after the death of Egypt's most famous hermit in 356, Athanasius of Alexandria wrote the Life of Antony, a text that had an immediate as well as enduring influence on monastic life and thought. While Athanasius's vivid description of the life of Antony the Great initiated the genre of the saint's life in Christian literature, his inclusion of many of his own theological ideas also provides insight into the turbulent doctrinal disputes of the fourth century. The significance of the Life of Antony is demonstrated by the fact that it was translated into Latin twice within two decades after its composition. The first version, prepared by an anonymous translator shortly after Athanasius completed his Greek text, provides a literal translation that is extant in only one complete manuscript. The literary translation prepared by Evagrius of Antioch in 373 was rapidly and widely transmitted throughout the Latin West. New editions of both translations are presented in this volume, with the edition of Evagrius's translation based on 28 manuscripts dating from the ninth to the eleventh century.

In recognition of the close relationship between these ancient Latin translations and the Greek original of the Life of Antony, this volume also includes an Appendix in which the text of these new editions is provided in parallel columns alongside the edition of the Greek text that was published by G.J.M. Bartelink in 1994 (Sources Chrétiennes, 400).

 

Pascal Bertrand studied Dutch Language and Literature and Medieval Studies at Utrecht University. In 2005 he completed a PhD thesis on the manuscript tradition of the Latin Vita Antonii and the reception of this text from the fourth until the eleventh century. His research interests include hagiography (Latin and medieval Dutch) and church history.

Lois Gandt completed her PhD in Theology at Fordham University in 2008, with a specialization in Patristics. Her research interests include the development of early asceticism and monasticism, and the transmission of the spirituality of the desert elders to the West.

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