Friday, 17 May 2019

Robert Volk: The Greek Lives of St John Damascene - common information, differences, historical value.

The Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca (BHG) altogether lists 18 bio-hagiographical texts on St John Damascene in three different locations within the this reference book. Four of these 18 texts are still not edited or printed at all, namely BHG 885h, 885k, 885m, and 1076q. Seven of them need a new critical edition (BHG 394, 395, 884, 884a, 885, 885b, 885c). This edition work now is well underway. Based on this work, one finds that the numbers of the BHG are not allocated on the basis of internal details; they don’t inform us to which group a text belongs. Two groups of longer texts are extant: In the first (represented by BHG 394, 884a), only one person called Cosmas appears. In the second group (represented by BHG 885b, 884, 394a, 395, 885), two persons called Cosmas appear. The two persons called Cosmas are found for the first time in the Arabic Life of John, written in 1085, which became the source of BHG 884. The focus of many shorter texts is the miracle of John’s cut off hand cured by the Holy Virgin; in this connection, BHG 885c belongs to the genre of ‘converting the caliph’ texts.

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