New Panarion

The second edition, revised and expanded, of Frank Williams’ translation of Book I of The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis is now available. My copy arrived today. The library binding was a bit of a surprise (it doesn’t match my copy of the volume containing Books II and III, which is the usual olive-green cloth with gold stamping of the other Nag Hammadi & Manichean Studies volumes), but it’s otherwise another fine example of bookmaking, a standard of Brill. As I have a copy of the original edition of 1987 (there was also a corrected reprinting of 1997) checked out from the library, I thought it would be fun to compare.

The introduction has grown from 27 pages (including a bibliography of five items) to 34 pages of introduction and a now separate 5 pages of “Editions and Works Consulted.” The subject index has grown from seven to ten pages. New to the 2009 edition are a half page list of Corrected Passages (in which Williams lists the emendations to the Greek text of Holl which he’s followed), and a twelve page Index of References, including all references in the text, footnotes, etc, in three parts: “Nag Hammadi Codices,” “Other Gnostic Sources,” and “Patristic Sources.” Surprisingly, there is no Scriptural index. The translations included in the volume (The Letter of Acacius and Paul, and Book I of the Panarion proper) have grown from 352 to 380 pages, only two of which belong to the Letter. A very interesting and helpful difference between the two volumes lies in the page headers. In the original edition, the page headers were only Section I, Section II, or Section III, reflecting the Anacephaleosis in which each sect was found. In the new edition, the Section is noted in the header of the left-facing page (verso) and a short title for the sect is given in the header of the right-facing page (recto), e.g., Valentinians, Secundians, Ptolemaeans, etc. Rather than the Section/Anacephaleosis number, however, it would have been more useful to have the chapter number, as it is the standard used in referring to the various sects/chapters of the Panarion. My trusty pencil will take up the noble task of effecting this in my own copy.

Flipping through and comparing the two translations, it becomes apparent that this new edition is not simply a slight reworking of the old, but rather qualifies as a new translation altogether. Identical renderings between the two editions are not widespread. Following are Williams’ renderings of 30,1,1-3, the beginning of the Sect (Epiphanius’ usage is to call each chapter a Sect) on the Ebionites (notes and editorial markings are removed):

1987 edition:
Following these and holding the same views, Ebion, the Ebionites’ founder, emerged in his turn–a monstrosity with many shapes, who practically formed the snake-like shape of the mythical many-headed hydra in himself. He was of the Nazoraeans’ school, but preached and taught differently from them. For it was as though a person were to collect a set of jewelry from various precious stones, and a garment from clothing of many colors, and dress up to be consipcuous. Ebion, in reverse, took any item of preaching from every sect if it was dreadful, lethal and disgusting, if it was ugly and unconvincing, if it was full of contention, and patterned himself after them all. For he has the Samaritans’ repulsiveness but the Jews’ name, the viewpoint of the Ossaeans, Nazoraeans and Nasaraeans, the nature of the Cerinthians, and the badness of the Carpocratians. And he has the Christians’ name alone–most certainly not their behaviour, viewpoint and knowledge, and the Gospels’ and apostles’ agreement as to faith!

2009 edition:
Following these and holding views like theirs, Ebion, the founder of the Ebionites, arose in the world in his turn as a monstrosity with many forms, and practically represented in himself the snake-like form of the mythical many-headed hydra. He was of the Nazoraeans’ school, but preached and taught other things than they. For it was as though someone were to collect a set of jewelry from various precious stones and an outfit of varicolored clothing and tog himself up conspicuously. Ebion, in reverse, took any and every doctrine which was dreadful, lethal, disgusting, ugly and unconvincing, thoroughly contentious, from every sect, and patterned himself after them all. For he has the Samaritans’ unpleasantness but the Jews’ name, the opinion of the Ossaeans, Nazoraeans and Nasaraeans, the form of the Cerinthians, and the perversity of the Carpocratians. And he wants to have just the Chrisians’ title–most certainly not their behavior, opinion and knowledge, and the consensus as to faith of the Gospels and Apostles!

Greek text (Holl’s text, which Williams used, as found in TLG): Ἐβίων, ἀφ’ οὗπερ Ἐβιωναῖοι, καθεξῆς ἀκολουθῶν καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις φρονήσας, πολύμορφον τεράστιον καὶ ὡς εἰπεῖν τῆς μυθευομένης πολυκεφάλου ὕδρας ὀφιώδη μορφὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἀνατυπωσάμενος, πάλιν ἐπανέστη τῷ βίῳ, ἐκ τῆς τούτων μὲν σχολῆς ὑπάρχων, ἕτερα δὲ παρὰ τούτους κηρύττων καὶ ὑφηγούμενος. ὡς γὰρ εἴ τις συνάξειεν ἑαυτῷ ἐκ διαφόρων λίθων τιμίων κόσμον καὶ ποικίλης ἐσθῆτος ἔνδυμα καὶ διαφανῶς ἑαυτὸν κοσμήσῃ, οὕτω καὶ οὗτος τὸ ἀνάπαλιν πᾶν ὁτιοῦν δεινὸν καὶ ὀλετήριον καὶ βδελυκτὸν κήρυγμα, ἄμορφόν τε καὶ ἀπίθανον, ἀ<ντι>ζηλίας ἔμπλεον παρ’ ἑκάστης αἱρέσεως λαβὼν ἑαυτὸν ἀνετύπωσεν εἰς ἁπάσας. Σαμαρειτῶν μὲν γὰρ ἔχει τὸ βδελυρόν, Ἰουδαίων δὲ τὸ ὄνομα, Ὀσσαίων καὶ Ναζωραίων καὶ Νασαραίων τὴν γνώμην, Κηρινθιανῶν τὸ εἶδος, Καρποκρατιανῶν τὴν κακοτροπίαν, καὶ Χριστιανῶν βούλεται ἔχειν τὸ ἐπώνυμον μόνον (οὐ γὰρ δήπουθεν τήν τε πρᾶξιν καὶ τὴν γνώμην καὶ τὴν γνῶσιν καὶ τὴν τῶν εὐαγγελίων καὶ ἀποστόλων περὶ πίστεως συγκατάθεσιν)·

It seems that Williams has spent the last decades well, familiarizing himself ever more with the text in order to produce a much smoother, more readable, and more immediately satisfying translation. The awkward renderings in the older version are gone, and the new translation certainly shows itself to be a fine representation of the accessible and colloquial style found in Epiphanius’ original, which is also touched on in Williams’ introduction. The new translation is certainly lively, moreso than the somewhat stilted older edition, particularly in the colorful language that Epiphanius is given to use in reference to the ideas of the various heresies!

This translation of the full Panarion by Frank Williams is the only one currently available in any modern language. There are editions with excerpts, most notably Philip Amidon’s The Panarios of St. Epiphanius of Salamis, Selected Passages (Oxford, 1990), but no other full translations of the complete Panarion. Perhaps a more affordable paperback edition of the two volumes of Williams’ translation will appear in the future, the better to make accessible this truly amazing work.


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