Monday, April 2, 2007

Excerpts of Theodotous

I have been rereading (and rethinking) the Excerpts of Theodotus for the past couple of days. As I work through the material, I am floored with how poorly translated the English version is (Robert P. Casey, Excerpta ex Theodoto of Clement of Alexandria [Studies and Documents 1; London: Christophers, 1934]). The translation is so problematic that I would warn those using it against trusting it. If you are working with this text, do not rely on the English translation. You will need to make your own English edition from the Greek. The best edition to use is François Sagnard, Clément d'Alexandrie: Extraits de Théodote (SC 23; Paris, 1970).

There are many instances of full sentences (even paragraphs) that are problematic as well as single phrases like "superior seed" which really is not "superior" because it is the seed that is less than the "male" or "elect seed." The word is diapherontos which means "different from, at odds with" and "eminent." So "eminent seed" would be a good translation, referring to the lesser female (but still worthy) spiritual seed given to all members of the Christian Church, while the "elect seed" is the more perfect male spiritual seed given to Valentinian Christians.

I think that part of the problem with Casey's English translation, is that the Valentinian tradition was not (and still isn't) understood very well. So it makes the translation process difficult at best.

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