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The Journal of Late Antique Religion and Culture

Volume 6, 2012


Bryn R. Rees †

On the Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart

[A new translation with introduction and notes, edited by Nicholas Baker-Brian and Josef Lössl]

[Editors’ Note: Brinley (Bryn) Roderick Rees (1919-2004) was Professor of Greek at the University of Wales, Cardiff College, from 1958 to 1970, and at the University of Birmingham from 1970 to 1975. He then was Principal at the University of Wales, Lampeter, St. David’s College, before retiring in 1980. An eminent papyrologist – P. Hermopolis, edited by B. R. Rees, is frequently referred to as P.Herm.Rees – Brynley Rees also counted Pelagius and Pelagianism among his main research interests. He was the author of Pelagius. A Reluctant Heretic (1988) and of Pelagius. Life and Letters (1991, reprint. 2004).

During the last years of his life Professor Rees was working on translations, with introductions and notes, of a set of texts which shed light on a particular aspect of the origins and early development of the Pelagian controversy, namely the exegesis of Romans 9 with its main theme of God’s justice in the light of predestination. Professor Rees seems to have intended to publish these texts as a group, although his handwritten manuscript does not contain a general introduction or a title for the intended book.

The texts include a Pelagian work entitled ‘On the Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart’ (De induratione cordis Pharaonis) and excerpts from two works by Augustine, ‘An Explanation of Some Topics in the Epistle to the Romans’ (Expositio quarundam propositionum in epistola ad Romanos) and ‘On Various Questions to Simplicianus’ (De diversis quaestionibus ad Simplicianum), and from Pelagius’ ‘Commentary on Romans’.

While the publication of Professor Rees’ work in its entirety is a desideratum and will eventually shed further light on this debate in late-antique biblical exegesis as well as on the question of the authorship of the De induratione, the editors of the present text, with the permission of Mrs. Zena Rees, present Professor Rees’ introduction to and translation of the De induratione on its own, not as part of the intended whole work on the exegesis of Romans 9, but as a rare but significant contribution to research on this rather obscure Pelagian work, which clearly deserves more attention than it has hitherto received.

What follows is transcribed from Professor Rees’ autograph. Citations and styles have been adapted, but only in some rare cases have notes been added in square brackets. It is not the editors’ intention to present a study on the De induratione at the current level of scholarship, which obviously has progressed since Professor Rees last worked on this material, but to make Professor Rees’ contribution available in its own right.

The editors would like to thank Mrs. Zena Rees for her generous support in making the autograph available for transcription and in giving permission to publish the text.]


Robert J. Wilkinson

Syriac Studies in Rome in the Second Half of the Sixteenth Century

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to pursue briefly the growing knowledge of Syriac and Syriac speaking Christians during the second half of the Sixteenth Century and also in that context to give a sketch of the Oriental types used in Rome in the later part of that century, the production of which was stimulated by increased contact with the Eastern churches. To do this it will be necessary to examine both the nature and extent of Roman contacts with Syriac speaking churches and the specifically Roman impulses which led to an interest in Syriac. It is, moreover, in this period that the approach to Syriac studies that characterised the work of the great seventeenth-century scholars and those who have subsequently followed them was essentially established. In addition this article seeks to draw a clear contrast with Syriac and Oriental studies in Rome during the first half of the Sixteenth Century and to show that the world-view of the later Syriac scholars there (who were increasingly native Syriac speakers) bore little or no relationship to the world of kabbalistic fantasy. A fantasy that had characterised the earlier Catholic scholars who, away from Rome, produced the first editions of the Syriac New Testaments and who also had achieved the typographic splendours of their bibles well before Rome’s own golden age of Oriental typography.


Book Review

My Dura Europos: The Letters of Susan M. Hopkins, 1927-1935, edited by B.M. Goldman & N.W. Goldman (Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 2011); xiv + 310 pp. ISBN 9780814335888 [Richard Evans]

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