QOTD: Melito of Sardis

Meltio of Sardis On Pascha 30-33

Such was the calamity which surrounded Egypt,
and made her suddenly childless.
Israel was guarded by the slaughter of the sheep,
and was illuminated by the shedding of blood,
and the death of the sheep was a wall for the people.

O strange and ineffable mystery!
The slaughter of the sheep was Israel’s salvation,
and the death of the sheep was life for the people,
and the blood averted the angel.

Tell me angel, what turned you away?
The slaughter of the sheep or the life of the Lord?
The death of the sheep or the type of the Lord?
The blood of the sheep or the spirit of the Lord?

It is clear that you turned away
seeing the mystery of the Lord in the sheep
and the life of the Lord in the slaughter of the sheep
and the type of the Lord in the death of the sheep.
Therefore you struck not Israel down,
but made Egypt alone childless.

Translation by Alistair Stewart-Sykes in the PPS series.

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9 Responses to QOTD: Melito of Sardis

  1. Dave Black says:

    Be interested to see the original as well.

    • jacobcerone says:

      Me too! Migne only has the fragments. And I’m at a loss as to where, online, I can find it. I believe it is in the Bodmer Papyrus xiii, but have not been able to find the complete manuscript.

      • Dave Black says:

        Was wondering what was behind “ineffable.”

      • jacobcerone says:

        That may very well have been rhetorical flourish on the part of the translator. In the introduction of the text he writes that since Melito’s liturgical text employed rhetorical techniques, he would aim for the same at the expense of scientific accuracy in translation.

  2. Dave Black says:

    “At the expense of” always worries me….

  3. dr S says:

    “Ineffable” = anekdihghtos

    • jacobcerone says:

      Not a rhetorical flourish after all ;). Thanks for providing us with a translation of On Pascha. It was a powerful and enjoyable read!

      • You may be interested to know that the press has requested a second edition, which will contain a facing Greek text. This will not go to print until stocks of the existing text sell out, but I can provide a word file of the Greek text on individual request for private reading.

      • jacobcerone says:

        That does interest me. I wish more publishers would be interested in making the Greek texts of the early Christian writers available. I know Migne is always an option, but getting a personal copy of that is next to impossible (accept in pdf, but then finding anything becomes impossible). I’m glad our study group at Southeastern was able to deplete the stock a bit to hasten the arrival of the new edition!

        Also, I’d love the word file while I wait for the new edition. My email is jacobncerone@gmail.com

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