De confusione titulorum

A recent note from a student has made me think.

He was discussing the document which I have termed Canones Addaei. He writes:

I was confused -especially in the start of my research- with the many names of this source (The Teaching of the Apostles). Some translate the mallpānutā as “Doctrine” (for example Cureton translates “The Teaching of the Apostles” as “Doctrina Apostolorum”) some as “Teaching” (Brook, Witakowski) and some others as “Canones Addaei” or “The Teaching of Addai”. So as you know better than me the title of this specific source (The Teaching of the Apostles) overlaps with the titles of other sources like the “original” Doctrina Apostolorum of the Teaching of the (Twelve) Apostles. It is not the same source with the “Didascalia” nor with “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles “

He is absolutely right. I termed the document Canones Addaei in part to distinguish it from the Doctrina Addaei, (another work altogether, just to add to the confusion), though the Syriac title is ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܫܠܝܚܐ, which might translate as Doctrina apostolorum, the title given to a Latin version of the two ways!

The confusion over the titles of the church orders is common and understandable. I recently corrected a set of proofs where the editor had not understood that the (Latin) Doctrina apostolorum was not the same as the Didascalia apostolorum and had messed up all the references. The English version of Harnack’s Die Quellen der sogenannten Apostolischen Kirchenordnung is actually entitled The sources of the Apostolic canons, which might lead the reader to think that it was about the appendix to Constitutiones apostolorum.

What is interesting is the cause of this confusion, namely the fact that titles in the ancient world did not serve to distinguish one book from another but to operate as a guide to the contents. How many books were called περὶ φύσεως? Thus a scribe might write διδασκαλία τῶν ἀποστόλων (or its Syriac equivalent) on any number of works. And cause a nightmare to editors and students of church orders for centuries to come!

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1 Comment

Filed under Church orders in genera(l)

One response to “De confusione titulorum

  1. Randy Burgess

    I would appreciate a PDF of your article on the Roman Sabbath Fast.
    Randy Burgess

    Like

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