Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's translation

Latin after CDLXXVI
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hlawson38
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Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's translation

Post by hlawson38 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:25 pm

Context: I don't understand Robert Adams's translation of a passage. I think there may be Latin idiom I'm not getting, or a secondary definition of words, or I may have gone wrong in my understanding of the whole excerpt. Folly is comparing the Apostles with contemporary [to the time of Erasmus] theology professors. To put it in country terms, the Apostles "preach Christ and Him crucified", while the academics are windbags and mystifying logic-choppers. Folly's message is communicated sarcastically. Then Folly turns to Paul, and I'm missing something. Search "nec enim adduci" in the latinlibrary.com Moriae Encomium for the Latin context.

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/erasmus/moriae.shtml
Nec enim adduci possum, ut credam Paulum, e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare, toties, damnaturum fuisse quaestiones, disceptationes, genealogias, et ut ipse vocat, logomachias, si eas percalluisset argutias, praesertim cum omnes illius temporis contentiones, pugnaeque rusticanae fuerint, et crassae, si cum magistrorum nostrorum plus quam Chrysippeis subtilitatibus conferantur.
Translation: But I cannot be persuaded that I should believe that Paul,
whose erudition everybody may evaluate,
would have so often disparaged investigations, disputes, genealogies, and as he himself called them word-choppings, if he had been thoroughly trained in academic disputation, especially when the debates of apostolic times may resemble the arguments of crossroads rustics, if compared with the subtleties of our theology professors
e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare

Robert Adams (In Praise of Folly and Other Writings, Norton) translates the above thusly:

"who in point of erudition was probably about on a level with the other apostles"

Adams is usually helpful, but sometimes he reaches translations that I don't understand. This is one of those times. This makes me think I have missed an idiom, or a secondary definition.

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by Hylander » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:37 pm

It seems to me that Adams's translation is wrong. Doesn't it mean "from whose erudition -- and his alone [unius] -- it is possible to evaluate everyone"? In other words, his erudition is the gold standard by which everyone can be evaluated.

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by hlawson38 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:24 pm

Hylander wrote:It seems to me that Adams's translation is wrong. Doesn't it mean "from whose erudition -- and his alone [unius] -- it is possible to evaluate everyone"? In other words, his erudition is the gold standard by which everyone can be evaluated.
Hello Hylander,

It seemed wrong to me. I was reluctant to say that, because in several places I agreed with Adams only after some studious dictionary work. Since I couldn't make the dictionary work agree with him this time, I decided to run up the distress signal flag.

I repeat the quotation to raise another question or two.
Nec enim adduci possum, ut credam Paulum, e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare, toties, damnaturum fuisse quaestiones, disceptationes, genealogias, et ut ipse vocat, logomachias, si eas percalluisset argutias, praesertim cum omnes illius temporis contentiones, pugnaeque rusticanae fuerint, et crassae, si cum magistrorum nostrorum plus quam Chrysippeis subtilitatibus conferantur.
You are reading omneis as the direct object of aestimare, correct? That looks better than my effort to make it the subject accusative.

But I'm still bothered by the logic of the sentence. On the one hand, Paul possesses learning; but on the other hand Folly makes questionable his thorough training in clever speech (eas . . . argutias) by putting percalluisset in the subjunctive. Is Folly sarcastically continuing the contrast between knowledge of the truth (Paul's learning) and the superficial cleverness of academic quibbling? Is it something like, "If Abraham Lincoln had had the formal schooling of Edward Everett, like Everett Lincoln would have given a two-hour speech remembered by nobody, instead of the Gettysburg Address."

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by RandyGibbons » Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:33 pm

who in point of erudition was probably about on a level with the other apostles
How on earth did Adams ever come up with that? Of course you and Hylander are right. For Erasmus/Folly, his fellow Fool (see 2 Corinthians 11, which also contradicts Adams) Paul's sort of erudition is, as Hylander puts it well, the gold standard by which to measure anyone else's (yes, omneis is the object of aestimare).

(By the way, I don't why the editor of the online edition you are using puts a comma after toties. toties modifies damnaturum fuisse.)
Is Folly sarcastically continuing the contrast between knowledge of the truth (Paul's learning) and the superficial cleverness of academic quibbling?

Absolutely! Erasmus/Folly is comparing the quality not the quantity of Paul's learning. si eas percaluisset argutias is a lot more contemptuous than your first cautious "if he had been thoroughly trained in academic disputation." I like and agree with your analogy to Lincoln.

Pax vobis this Easter weekend!

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by hlawson38 » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:46 pm

Many thanks to Randy Gibbons and Hylander.

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by mwh » Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:51 pm

Hang on a minute. Isn’t the point that Paul had no erudition, or none to speak of? Still less did the apostles or the other NT writers, the “omnes” in e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare, as I understand it. It doesn’t mean that Paul’s erudition is "the gold standard by which to measure anyone else's." That makes no sense in light of what follows. Paul and the rest of the NT guys are country bumpkins alongside the immensely erudite Greek theologian-philosophers of earlier antiquity and the present day. What Paul himself had, or claimed to have, was not erudition but γνῶσις, which is quite a different thing, effectively its antithesis. It’s not that there are two kinds of erudition. There’s erudition, and there’s gnosis aka μωρια/stultitia.

The real point, of course, is that Paul and the early Christians didn’t need erudition. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Erasmus professes to find it hard to believe that Paul would have damned quaestiones etc if he’d been thoroughly versed in them. Paul was not thoroughly versed in them—he was no Chrysippus capable of subtle philosophical argument. His quarrels with his contemporary rivals (omnes illius temporis contentiones pugnaeque) were rusticanae et crassae by comparison with the philosophers'. And of course—this is the irony, the unstated punch-line—if he had been thoroughly versed in the quaestiones etc., as the likes of Chrysippus and modern theologians were, he would still have disparaged them. For him—moronically—the unsupported “truth” of the gospel message was enough, immune to any intellectual inquisition.

Incidentally, the reference of quaestiones, disceptationes, genealogias, et ut ipse vocat, logomachias is unmistakably to 1 Timοthy, with its warnings against unPauline teaching: 6.4 ζητήσεις και λογομαχίας, 1.4 γενεαλογίαις, εκζητήσεις.

This is not an April Fools' joke. But some would say Easter is the greatest folly of them all.

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by RandyGibbons » Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:38 pm

There’s erudition, and there’s gnosis aka μωρια/stultitia.
Or, there's erudition and there's "erudition." I think all of us fools are saying pretty much the same thing.

R

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by hlawson38 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:03 am

RandyGibbons wrote:
There’s erudition, and there’s gnosis aka μωρια/stultitia.
Or, there's erudition and there's "erudition." I think all of us fools are saying pretty much the same thing.

R
I agree; there is the "wisdom of the world" and the kind of knowledge Paul has. It has been ages since I did hard time in Sunday school, but I seem to recall memory verses on point. And I think Randy is right that everybody here had got that.

Now, bringing back Paul,
e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare
Attempted translation: according to whose knowledge it is proper to evaluate everybody.

How does that look?

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by RandyGibbons » Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:04 pm

according to whose knowledge it is proper to evaluate everybody
That is a very literal translation, but I don't think it captures Erasmus/Folly's tone. Maybe something like "whose 'erudition' - this one man's alone - I'll match against anyone else's".

Michael, I don't think omnes refers to the other apostles and NT writers (if I understood you correctly). I think it is meant to be both generic, omnes versus cuius unius, and specific to the medieval and contemporary theologians he is castigating in this section.

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by mwh » Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:51 pm

Now, bringing back Paul,
e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare


Attempted translation: according to whose knowledge it is proper to evaluate everybody.

How does that look?
Not too good I’m afraid. licet is permissive, “one may,” “it’s legit”, and as for “e cuius unius eruditione”, it’s as Hylander said: "from whose erudition -- and his alone [unius] -- it is possible to evaluate everyone."

Where we disagree, as I tried to explain, is over omneis and over eruditione. You all are taking omneis to mean everyone without qualification, while I take it to be contextually limited, referring to the apostles and/or the NT writers. And I think you’re wrong to imagine that eruditione means “the kind of knowledge Paul has” (or as Randy put it, not erudition but “erudition” in quotes). I think it simply means erudition (as distinct from the knowledge that Paul claimed to have), which Paul and the apostles did not have and did not care to have; but it is used sarcastically, since Paul’s erudition was negligible (comparatively speaking, that is). In my view the passage demands this understanding of it. (So I think Adams’ translation is not as wrong as you all think it is.) But I don’t hope to sway you on this.

PS. Posted before seeing Randy’s latest. Randy, I’m glad you no longer deny there's a real disagreement between us. Now all I’ll say is I think you’re wrong.

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by RandyGibbons » Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:31 pm

Michael wrote,
The real point, of course, is that Paul and the early Christians didn’t need erudition.

That is the part I still think we were all basically in agreement on.

Michael went on to write,
Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Erasmus professes to find it hard to believe that Paul would have damned quaestiones etc if he’d been thoroughly versed in them. Paul was not thoroughly versed in them—he was no Chrysippus capable of subtle philosophical argument. His quarrels with his contemporary rivals (omnes illius temporis contentiones pugnaeque) were rusticanae et crassae by comparison with the philosophers'. And of course—this is the irony, the unstated punch-line—if he had been thoroughly versed in the quaestiones etc., as the likes of Chrysippus and modern theologians were, he would still have disparaged them. For him—moronically—the unsupported “truth” of the gospel message was enough, immune to any intellectual inquisition.
And he added,
But I don’t hope to sway you on this.
Actually, Michael, you have swayed me! I bow to YOUR eruditio :D . I don't think I was sufficiently appreciating the "tongue planted firmly in cheek" part. And, like Hugh, it's been a long long time since I did "hard time" in Sunday school!

You pointed out the reference to λογομαχίας in 1 Timothy. Just for the sake of completeness, here are all the other references given in the AMD edition: quaestiones 1. Tim. 1,4; 1. Tim. 6,4; 2. Tim. 2,23; Tit. 3,9. disceptationes Rom. 14,1; 1. Tim. 2,8. genealogias 1. Tim. 1,4; Tit. 3,9.

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by hlawson38 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:08 pm

mwh wrote:
Now, bringing back Paul,
e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare


Attempted translation: according to whose knowledge it is proper to evaluate everybody.

How does that look?
Not too good I’m afraid. licet is permissive, “one may,” “it’s legit”, and as for “e cuius unius eruditione”, it’s as Hylander said: "from whose erudition -- and his alone [unius] -- it is possible to evaluate everyone."

Where we disagree, as I tried to explain, is over omneis and over eruditione. You all are taking omneis to mean everyone without qualification, while I take it to be contextually limited, referring to the apostles and/or the NT writers. And I think you’re wrong to imagine that eruditione means “the kind of knowledge Paul has” (or as Randy put it, not erudition but “erudition” in quotes). I think it simply means erudition (as distinct from the knowledge that Paul claimed to have), which Paul and the apostles did not have and did not care to have; but it is used sarcastically, since Paul’s erudition was negligible (comparatively speaking, that is). In my view the passage demands this understanding of it. (So I think Adams’ translation is not as wrong as you all think it is.) But I don’t hope to sway you on this.

PS. Posted before seeing Randy’s latest. Randy, I’m glad you no longer deny there's a real disagreement between us. Now all I’ll say is I think you’re wrong.

Let me try again. I want to imagine in myself a mental process that this passage denotes.

A. If I know what Paul knows, then it's OK to use this as an intelligible standard that empowers a measurement of the others according to that standard. [This is how I was thinking at first, and right up to now.]

B. It's OK to take what Paul knows as a description of what the others know. [This is how I am thinking now.]

Here is John Wilson's 1668 translation, on Gutenberg:
by whose learning you may judge the rest

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by RandyGibbons » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:24 pm

Hi Hugh. Feels to me that you are about at that point with this clause where it's best to move on and revisit it later with fresh eyes, but in your tenacity I see myself!

I have to confess, in any case, that I simply don't understand your "A" and "B" alternatives. But I'm really enjoying being pulled into 'Praise of Folly' by your questions, so let me tell you what my current understanding is, with the help of Hylander and Michael.

If someone, without context, simply asked us to translate the Latin phrase e cuius unius eruditione licet omnes aestimare, I think we'd all come up with a more-or-less identical and accurate literal translation. The question is, who are the omnes and how is eruditione to be understood in the context.

So let's review the context, broadly. In this section of 'Praise', Folly sets aside poking fun at the follies of the uneducated masses and girds herself (!) to take on various professions with some claim to knowledge (eruditi, as she calls them): Ad eos accingar, qui sapientiae speciem inter mortales tenent. She begins with the grammarians, then the poets, rhetoricians, book writers in general, lawyers, logicians and sophists, scientists, and, at the point we're at now, reluctantly (always tongue-in-cheek), the terrorist theologians.

She gives examples of their absurd subtilissimas subtilitates, but even subtiliores are those of the scholastic sects (Thomists, Scotists, etc.). Why, the apostles themselves would have needed help if they were to be engaged in such arguments:
  • In quibus omnibus [the scholastics] tantum est eruditionis, tantum difficultatis, ut existimem ipsis apostolis alio spiritu opus fore, si cogantur hisce de rebus cum hoc novo theologorum genere conserere manus.
Paul could present faith, the apostles could preach charity and grace, etc., but parum magistraliter, parum dialectice, non pari acumine quo Scotae ... . Detestantur [the apostles] peccatum, at emoriar, si potuerunt scientifice definire, quid sit illud quod peccatum vocamus, nisi forte Scostistarum spiritu fuerunt edocti. Nec enim adduci possum ...

And so here we are. You and I got the main idea, I think, which is why I put 'eruditio' in quotes. But I think Michael is right. When Folly says, 'Why, I just can't be led to believe ... ', she is being completely tongue-in-cheek, and that is what I was not fully appreciating. Clearly from the context, what she really means is that Paul and the apostles - yes, I agree with Michael and Adams, omnes refers to the other apostles - had no eruditio at all, to speak of at all (the quaestiones, disceptationes, genealogias, λογομαχίας that Paul preached against in the epistles were mere child's play compared to the subtilissimas subtilitates of the modern theologians.

So, Hugh, I think context is the key here. Literal translations, like the early one you cited (I have a 1964 edition that translates "upon whose learning others can be judged"), are fine, but Adams has woven a little more interpretation, and not incorrectly (I gladly stand corrected!), into his.

Randy

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Re: Praise of Folly, "nec enim adduci", R.A. Adams's transla

Post by hlawson38 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:59 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:
[snip]

So, Hugh, I think context is the key here. Literal translations, like the early one you cited (I have a 1964 edition that translates "upon whose learning others can be judged"), are fine, but Adams has woven a little more interpretation, and not incorrectly (I gladly stand corrected!), into his.

Randy
Thank you for the careful reply, which sums things up very well. There's nothing I disagree with. When I run up the distress flag, and get some advice, I like to ask myself, "Why did I miss this?" So, my question, in the post you reply to, was part of my effort to find out the cause of my failure.

I couldn't reconcile the quotation with Adams's translation for two reasons. One was the word "omneis", for which I was unprepared to seek antecedents. That just didn't occur to me, and it needs to start occurring. ;-) The second was my understanding of aestimare, which was too limited. My dictionary work failed me.

It now seems to me that aestimare is a little like the English verb "to reckon", which can mean (strictly) "to calculate" or (loosely)"to suppose."

But now that I understand those two points, I also see that Adams's did very well in conveying the meaning of that phrase. The problem was my own deficiency.

Thanks again to Hylander, mwh, and to you, Randy, for the comments; they were tremendously helpful. Arguing about Latin with you-all is the last thing I'd think of.

Hugh

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