Funny typo

My first copy of The History of the Church by Eusebius is the Penguin Classics edition translated by G. A. Williamson, revised, edited and with a new introduction by Andrew Louth (Penguin Books, 1989). This is the trade paperback edition (7 3/4 x 5 1/8 in. or 19.75 x 13 cm), which I prefer to the normal paperback sized edition of the same text that I’ve got squirreled away here somewhere….

Anyhow, I decided to start reading through Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History again as my nighttime relaxing reading before bed, and ran across a thorogouhly hilarious typographical error that I thought it would be a delight to share. It occurs in a section on Polycarp, the famous bishop of Smyrna, in which he runs into the arch-heretic Marcion (p. 117):

Polycarp himself on one occasion came face to face with Marcion, and when Marcion said ‘Don’t you recognize me?’ he replied: ‘I do indeed: I recognize the firstborn of Satin!”

Yes, there it is: “the firstborn of Satin!’

Here’s the Greek, which is quite snappy:

καὶ αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ Πολύκαρπος Μαρκίωνί ποτε εἰς ὄψιν αὐτῷ ἐλθόντι καὶ φήσαντι· ἐπιγίνωσκε ἡμᾶς, ἀπεκρίθη· ἐπιγινώσκω ἐπιγινώσκω τὸν πρωτότοκον τοῦ σατανᾶ.

Unfortunately, it seems that our Father among the Saints Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna wasn’t making a comment upon the unfortunate sartorial sense of the wretched heretic Marcion, shipwrecker of souls. The “Satin” is simply a typographical error for “Satan”. Unfortunately the typo really turns quite a dramatic moment into a rather silly thing. Hopefully it’s been corrected in later printings.


  1. Yes, it reminds me of St Athanasius’s references to Arius being effeminate.

    By the way, what do you recommend as the best English edition of Eusebius? What do you think about the Barnes & Noble edition of G.A. Williamson’s translation? (I’m drawn to it because it’s cheap!)

  2. Well, Arius was effeminate, compared to St Athanasius.

    I wonder if that Barnes & Noble one is the same that I have. If so, it’s good. Even if it’s not the one revised by Louth, it’s probably not that different. It follows Eusebius closely.

    There’s another “translation” by Paul Baines, illustrated and annotated, put out by Kregel, but I’m iffy about it because it’s really something of a paraphrase. He snipped out Eusebius’ prolixity, blandifying the text. The information gets across, and in a more utilitarian way, but it is often a real leap from the Greek to the English of Baines. The pictures and maps are certainly nice to have, though.

    Someone would really do well to make a modern literary translation and annotation, something like those Landmark Histories. That’d be awesome.

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