Agamben translation: Update and request

Work on my translation of The Use of Bodies continues apace. I now have full drafts of the prologue, first major part, first “intermezzo,” and second major part. I have nearly completed all bibliographical work for those segments (the publisher requires that I consult English translations of every work Agamben cites if they are available), and over the next week I will be reviewing my drafts and then passing them over to a generous Italian colleague to check. Then I will return to translating new material. The deadline for submission of the final manuscript is August 1, and I am confident I will get it in on time if not a bit early. After that, your guess is as good as mine as to when it comes out.

There is one lingering citation problem I have [used to have, before commenters helped!]. If you provide a full citation and direct quotation from the English translation of the relevant texts in comments, you will earn your way into my acknowledgment section. The problem is a quote from Gregory of Nazianzus that purports to be from Oration 31 (better known as the 5th Theological Oration), section 35. In no edition of the orations have I been able to find a section numbered 35 or a quote that even remotely approximates this: “We Greeks say religiously one ousia in three hypostases, the first word expressing the nature of divinity and the second the triplicity of the individuated properties. The Latins think the same, but due to the restrictions of their language and the poverty of their vocabulary, they cannot distinguish the hypostasis from the substance and instead make use of the term persona… It is believed to be a difference of faith, while it is to us only a diversity of words.” I have already run multiple text searches of the transcriptions of the ANF available online. I’m wondering if it’s been completely mislabelled. Somehow it feels more like something John of Damascus would say. Any thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Agamben translation: Update and request

  1. The original Italian quote: Noi greci – scrive Gregorio di Nazianzo – diciamo religiosamente una sola ousia in tre ipostasi, la prima parola esprimendo la natura della divinità e la seconda la triplicità delle proprietà individuanti. I latini pensano lo stesso, ma, per la ristrettezza della loro lingua e la penuria di vocaboli, non potevano distinguere l’ipostasi dalla sostanza e si servirono pertanto del termine «persona»… Si è creduto a una diff erenza di fede, mentre non c’era che un diversità di parole [Or., xxxi, 35].

  2. Glad you solved the bibliographic confusion. Just a couple of quick suggestions on your translation: 1. “Pertanto” should be therefore, thus, hence – not instead. 2. “Si è creduto a” does not mean it is believed to be, but rather it is attributed (credited, due, chalked up) to. Now as you know this is Agamben’s Italian text (he probably took it from a standard translation); you might check the Greek (not at hand here) to make sure there are no substantial (or should I say hypostatic) divergences, though on the whole this is exactly what I expect Gregory to say (against Marcellus of Ancyra and his pupil Photinus)… Good luck finishing!

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