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Valentinian Christianity: Texts and Translations
translated by Geoffrey S. Smith
Valentinus, an Egyptian Christian who traveled to Rome to teach his unique brand of theology, and his followers, the Valentinians, formed one of the largest and most influential sects of Christianity in the second and third centuries. But by the fourth century, their writings had all but disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from the historical record, as the newly consolidated imperial Christian Church condemned as heretical all forms of what has come to be known as Gnosticism. Only in 1945 were their extensive original works finally rediscovered, and the resurrected “Gnostic Gospels” soon rooted themselves in both the scholarly and popular imagination.
Valentinian Christianity: Texts and Translations brings together for the first time all the extant texts composed by Valentinus and his followers. With accessible introductions and fresh translations based on new transcriptions of the original Greek and Coptic manuscripts on facing pages, Geoffrey S. Smith provides an illuminating, balanced overview of Valentinian Christianity and its formative place in Christian history.
The Selected Letters of Cassiodorus: A Sixth-Century Sourcebook edited and translated by M. Shane Bjornlie
One of the great Christian scholars of antiquity and a high-ranking public official under Theoderic, King of the Ostrogoths, Cassiodorus compiled edicts, diplomatic letters, and legal documents while in office. The collection of his writings, the Variae, remains among the most important sources for the sixth century, the period during which late antiquity transitioned to the early middle ages.
Translated and selected by scholar M. Shane Bjornlie, The Selected Letters gathers the most interesting evidence from the Veriae for understanding the political culture, legal structure, intellectual and religious worldviews, and social evolution during the twilight of the late-Roman state. Bjornlie’s invaluable introduction discusses Cassiodorus’s work in civil, legal, and financial administration, revealing his interactions with emperors, kings, bishops, military commanders, private citizens, and even criminals. Section notes introduce each letter to contextualize its themes and connection with other letters, opening a window to Cassiodorus’s world.
The Life of the Syrian Saint Barsauma:
Eulogy of a Hero of the Resistance to the Council of Chalcedon translated by Andrew N. Palmer
Andrew N. Palmer’s vivid translation of the Syriac Life of Barsauma opens a fascinating window onto the ancient Middle East, seen through the life and actions of one of its most dramatic and ambiguous characters: the monk Barsauma, ascetic hero to some, religious terrorist to others. The Life takes us into the eye of the storm that raged around Christian attempts to define the nature of Christ in the great Council of Chalcedon, the effect of which was to split the growing Church irrevocably, with the Oriental Orthodox on one side and Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic on the other. Previously known only in extracts, this ancient text is now finally brought to readers in its entirety, casting dramatic new light on the relations among pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Holy Land and on the role of religious violence, real or imagined, in the mental world of a Middle East as shot through with conflict as it is today.