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Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

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Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby Ivansalgadogarcia » Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:54 am

In the introduction to the Περὶ αἱρέσεων of Johannes Damascenus is the next paragraph:

Ὕστερον δὲ ὁ Ἑλληνισμὸς εἰς αἱρέσεις κατέστη κατωτέρω τῶν χρόνων, φημὶ δὴ Πυθαγορείων καὶ Στωϊκῶν καὶ Πλατωνικῶν καὶ Ἐπικουρείων· καὶ λοιπὸν θεοσεβείας χαρακτὴρ ὑπῆρχεν ἅμα καὶ ὁ κατὰ φύσιν νόμος πολιτευόμενος, ἀπὸ τούτων τῶν ἐθνῶν ἑαυτὸν ἀφορίζων, ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου καταβολῆς καὶ δεῦρο, μέσος τυγχάνων Βαρβαρισμοῦ καὶ Σκυθισμοῦ καὶ Ἑλληνισμοῦ, ἕως οὗ συνήφθη ἡ τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ θεοσέβεια.

Finally, the Hellenism has been divided in many heresies along this last times, Pythagoreans, Stoics, Platonics, Epicureans. Well then, the face of the God-pity has been in touch with with the natural laws, moving away from the peoples, and since the foundation of the universe, now laying among the Barbarism, Scythism and Hellenism, although it took the piety of Abraham.

Could you find any sense for the sentence ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου καταβολῆς καὶ δεῦρο? What could καταβολή mean in this paragraph?

Thanks a lot.
nam ista corruptela servi si non modo impunita fuerit, sed etiam a tanta auctoritate approbata, nulli parietes nostram salutem, nullae leges, aulla iura custodient. (Cic. Deiot. 30)
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Re: Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby modus.irrealis » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:44 pm

"Foundation" for καταβολή fits -- I see the entire phrase as "from the foundation of the world and up to now".

Except that perhaps δεῦρο means something like "up to this time" where "this time" refers to the same time as the οὗ of ἕως οὗ, which means "until." Then you'd get something like, rearranging the Greek, I get something like "then the form of piety existed, at the same time as the natural law was in power, distinguishing itself from these nations, being in the middle of Barbarism, Scythism, and Hellenism, from the foundation of the world up to the time when the piety of Abraham was joined [to it]." But it's not all that clear to me what's being said.
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Re: Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby Ivansalgadogarcia » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:05 am

Thanks a lot, I still can't understand what did he try to say, in the last sentence, "up to the time when the piety of Abraham was joined to it" the time correlations seems to fit with the first sentence (from the foundation...). The text is kind a Heretics Catalog, but sometimes Johannes Damascenus tries to draw a world history, he says, for example that the greek came from Abraham and things like that.

Thanks you so much.

modus.irrealis wrote:"Foundation" for καταβολή fits -- I see the entire phrase as "from the foundation of the world and up to now".

Except that perhaps δεῦρο means something like "up to this time" where "this time" refers to the same time as the οὗ of ἕως οὗ, which means "until." Then you'd get something like, rearranging the Greek, I get something like "then the form of piety existed, at the same time as the natural law was in power, distinguishing itself from these nations, being in the middle of Barbarism, Scythism, and Hellenism, from the foundation of the world up to the time when the piety of Abraham was joined [to it]." But it's not all that clear to me what's being said.
nam ista corruptela servi si non modo impunita fuerit, sed etiam a tanta auctoritate approbata, nulli parietes nostram salutem, nullae leges, aulla iura custodient. (Cic. Deiot. 30)
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Re: Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby OMEYA » Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:04 am

modus.irrealis wrote:I see the entire phrase as "from the foundation of the world and up to now".


I agree with this.
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Re: Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby IreneY » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:58 pm

I too am scratching my head with this passage (and not just the last part). However the "από καταβολής κόσμου και δεύρο" (sorry for the modern Greek) does indeed mean "from the foundation of the word and then" or, in other words and better English, "since the foundation of the word". Any "up to" comes from the last part.
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Re: Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:22 pm

I was searching for the Greek text to see the larger context, and one thing I found is a very similar passage in Epiphanius' Anacephalaeosis (there's an online version at http://books.google.ca/books?id=ESwVAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA546), which is:

ὕστερον δὲ ὁ Ἑλληνισμὸς εἰς αἱρέσεις κατέστη κατωτέρω τῷ χρόνῳ, φημὶ δὲ Πυθαγορείων καὶ Στωϊκῶν καὶ Πλατωνικῶν καὶ Ἐπικουρείων καὶ λοιπῶν. θεοσεβείας δὲ χαρακτὴρ ὑπῆρχεν ἅμα καὶ ὁ κατὰ φύσιν νόμος, πολιτευόμενος ἀπὸ τούτων τῶν ἐθνῶν, ἑαυτὸν ἀφορίζων ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου καταβολῆς καὶ δεῦρο, μέσος τυγχάνων Βαρβαρισμοῦ καὶ Σκυθισμοῦ καὶ Ἑλληνισμοῦ, ἕως ὅτου συνήφθη τῇ τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ θεοσεβείᾳ.

It's mostly a matter of punctuation, but it seems clearer: there exited a form of piety together with the natural law, being customary [?] these nations, having been keeping itself separate from the foundation of the world and onwards, while being in the middle of ..., until it was joined to the piety of Abraham.

It makes more sense to not take ἀπὸ τούτων τῶν ἐθνῶν with ἀφορίζων since I was confused by why it seemed to be saying that it was separating itself these nations but being among their heresies. But I'm still not sure what πολιτευόμενος means and exactly what sense ἀπό has here -- can it mean "among"?
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Re: Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby OMEYA » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:44 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:up to now".


I think that "δευρο" ιs associated with "up to now", so the translation is more detailed-specific.

If you don't use "up to now", the translation refers to the period of time generally but the "end point" of the period is not mentioned.
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Re: Johannes Damascenus on Hellenism

Postby Ivansalgadogarcia » Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:20 pm

I didn't realize Περὶ αἱρέσεων was the almost the same as the Ἀνακεφαλεόσις!, without the last 20 heresies, thanks a lot, now I understand many things of this passage.
nam ista corruptela servi si non modo impunita fuerit, sed etiam a tanta auctoritate approbata, nulli parietes nostram salutem, nullae leges, aulla iura custodient. (Cic. Deiot. 30)
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