Category Archives: Translations

Sarapion of Thmuis

My Swedish translation of Sarapion of Thmuis has finally been published: Biskop Sarapion av Thmuis böner, Skellefteå: Artos, 2013, 65 sidor.

Sarapion av Thmuis böner från 300-talets Egypten är en av de äldsta bevarade samlingarna med böner från den tidiga kyrkans gudstjänstliv. Samlingen innehåller biskopens böner för begravningsgudstjänst, eukaristifirande, dopfirande, ämbetsvigningar och olika välsignelseakter. Dessa böner är en viktig källa till vår kunskap om den tidiga kyrkans gudstjänstliv och teologi i det nedre Egypten.


Sarapion of Thmuis finally finished

I have finally finished my Swedish translation of Sarapion of Thmuis (see here and here) and submitted it to my publisher, Artos & Norma. The translation will be printed and distributed sometime after January next year.

Georges Florovsky in Sweden

Georges Florovsky (1893-1979)

The famous Russian theologian and father of neopatristic theology George(s) Florovsky (1893-1979) gave a lecture about the doctrine of redemption in Lund, Sweden, in the autumn of 1946. He was at the time affiliated with the Saint-Serge Institute in Paris.  A summary of the lecture was published in the journal of the faculty of theology at Lund University: George Florovsky, “In Ligno Crucis: kyrkofädernas lära om försoningen, tolkad från den grekisk-ortodoxa teologins synpunkt.” Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift 23 (1947): 297-308.

In February, 2011, the Fr. Georges Florovsky Orthodox Christian Theological Society at Princeton University arraigned a symposium in honor of Fr. George Florovsky, “On the Tree of the Cross – The Patristic Doctrine of Atonement.” The papers presented at this symposium will be published together with some previously unpublished works by Florovsky. The editor of this volume asked me if I could translate the Swedish summary of Florovsky’s lecture to be included in it; which I did. The volume will be published soon by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

Sarapion of Thmuis (Continued)

M. E. Johnson, The Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis (Rome: PIO, 1995)

I have now made a translation draft of Bishop Sarapion (Serapion) of Thmuis’ prayers. I used Brightman’s edition for this translation; however, I have now had the opportunity to consult Johnson’s edition and study. This made me realize that Brightman’s reconstructions of the original liturgical rites are too speculative and introduce unnecessary hypotheses. (I am very fond of Occam’s razor.)

The order of the prayers: Another theory

There is another theory proposed by Schermann and Cuming (independently of each other), which claims that the order of the prayers in the manuscript is logical as it stands; however, the original used by the eleventh century copyist was a scroll with writing on both sides and he began to copy it from the wrong side, which explains why the preanaphora prayers come at the end of the collection.

Reordering my translation

I have accepted this theory in my translation and rearranged the material as follows: oil prayers (15-17), burial prayer (18), the liturgy (liturgy of the word, prayers 19-30; liturgy of the eucharist, prayers 1-6), initiation (prayers 7-11), and ordination (prayers 12-14).

I am currently reviewing my draft with the help of Johnson’s edition. He is very cautious in his edition and preserves the prayers in the order of the manuscript unlike my reordering based on the theory of Schermann and Cuming.

Serapion of Thmuis

My pastime this summer is to translate into Swedish the fourth century euchologion of Bishop Serapion (Sarapion) of Thmuis. This euchologion or pontifical is a collection of thirty liturgical prayers primarily intended for a bishop. It is one of the oldest preserved liturgical documents and an important source of liturgical history. The document belongs to the Egyptian or Alexandrian rite and is an early ancestors of the later Liturgy of St. Mark.

The manuscript

Bishop Serapion of Thmuis

This fourth century euchologion is preserved in an eleventh century manuscript, which belongs to the Lavra Monastery on Athos. It was first published in 1894 by the Russian liturgical historian Dimitrievsky in the journal of the Ecclesiastical Academy of Kiev. This edition went largely unnoticed in the West. Independently of Dimitrievsky the German scholar Wobbermin published an edition in Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur N.F. 2:3b, Leipzig: 1899. Wordsworth published an English translation of Wobbermin’s edition: Bishop Sarapion’s Prayer-Book, London: SPCK, 1899. The language of this translation is very awkward and the translator seems to have misunderstood the original Greek in some places.

The order of the prayers

The prayers in the manuscript were not preserved in their liturgical order but in order of importance (the manuscript begins with the anaphora and ends with the preanaphora prayers). Brightman reconstructed the original liturgical context of the prayers in a new edition based on photographs of the manuscript and Wobbermin’s edition. Brightman’s edition was published in Journal of Theological Studies 1 (1900): pp. 88ff., 246ff. I have used this edition but also consulted Wobbermin’s edition for my translation.

The euchologion contains prayers belonging the the following rites: the liturgy (the eucharist), initiation (baptism and chrismation), ordinations (deacons, presbyters, and bishops), unction of the sick, and burial of the dead.

UPDATE 2: The reconstruction of Brightman is very speculative. There is another simpler theory proposed by Schermann and Cuming (independently of each other), which claims that the order of the prayers in the manuscript is logical as it stands; however, the original used by the eleventh century copyist was a scroll with writing on both sides and he began to copy it from the wrong side, which explains why the preanaphora prayers come at the end of the collection. I have accepted this theory in my translation and rearranged the material as follows: oil prayers (15-17), burial prayer (18), the liturgy (liturgy of the word, prayers 19-30; liturgy of the eucharist, prayers 1-6), initiation (prayers 7-11), and ordination (prayers 12-14).

The character of the prayers

From a pastoral perspective it is interesting to note how layoriented the Serapion’s euchologion is unlike the later extremely monastified Byzantine rite; it contains explicit prayers for families, husbands, wives, and children.

Serapion’s euchologion is also interesting from the perspective of history of theology and dogma. All the prayers are addressed to God the Father through the Only-Begotten One in Holy Spirit (no definitive article). The most common Christological title in the prayers is “Only-Begotten One.” Interestingly the epiklesis of the anaphora (eucharistic prayer) is not addressed to the Spirit but to the Only-Begotten One. The prayers show an unreflected pneumatology; the focus is on the Father and the Son.

My translation of the prayers

Since I am busy writing my doctoral thesis I have not the time to catch up on the latest research concerning Serapion and the early Egyptian rite; therefore, I have turned to my former teacher of patristics, Anders Ekenberg, who also is specialized in liturgical history. He has kindly agreed to write an introduction to my translation. The translation will be published by Artos & Norma, the largest publisher of translated patristic texts in Sweden.

UPDATE 1: A friend  brought to my attention that there exists a later study of Serapion’s euchologion which also contains the Greek text and a new English translation: Johnson, M. E., The Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis: A literary, liturgical, and theological analysis, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 249, Rome: PIO, 1995. Unfortunately I have not yet had the opportunity to consult this work.

Debut of New Swedish Translation of the Divine Liturgy

This Sunday the new Swedish translation of the divine liturgy makes its debut at the Uspensky Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland. This is the first official Swedish translation of the divine liturgy (previous translations have been private initiatives). The translation was commissioned by Metropolitan Ambroius of Helsinki and has been approved by the assembly of bishops of the Orthodox Church in Finland. The debut was televised by YLE and may be viewed online at YLE Areena until June 26, 2012: It may also be viewed at

Translating Dionysius Exiguus

We have started a new Dionysiana Seminar at the Center for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University. The purpose of this seminar is to produce an English annotated translation of the first redaction of Dionysius Exiguus’ Liber Canonum (i.e., a part of the Collectio Dionysiana).

Dionysius Exiguus (sixth century) is a very important person in the history of ecclesiastical and canon law. He translated many important works from Greek to Latin. He made the most influential translation of the ancient Greek corpus canonum (i.e., the Collectio Canonum Antiochena). The original Greek version of this semichronological collection of canons was used by the fourth ecumenical council (Chalcedon, 451); however, it has not survived in the original Greek since it was superseded by the later systematic collections of canons (i.e., John Scholastikos’ Synagoge in 50 titles and the anonymous Syntagma in 14 titles). But semichronological collection of canons has survived in Latin and Syriac translations (including the Collectio Dionysiana). The Latin translation of the canons by Dionysius Exiguus became very influential in the subsequent history of canon law in the West and the Greek translation of the canons of Carthage is probably based on the Collectio Dionysiana.

The Dionysiana Seminar uses the critical edition by Adolf Strewe: Die Canonessamlung des Dionysius Exiguss in der ersten Redaktion, Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 16 (Berlin: 1931).

Selected bibliography

Maasen, F. Geschichte der Quellen und Literatur des canonischen Rechts im Abendlande bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters. Graz: 1870.

Schwartz, E. “Die Kanonessamlungen der alten Reichskirche” in Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtgeschichte 42, kan. Abt. 11 (1921): pp. 208-253.

Stickler, A. Historia Iuris Canonici Latini, vol. 1: Historia Fontium. Torino: 1950.

Gaudemet, J. Les Source du Droit de l’Église en Occident du IIe au VIIe Siècle. Paris: 1985.

Ferme, B. E. Introduction to the History of the Sources of Canon Law: The Ancient Law up to the Decretum of Gratian. Montréal: 2007.

New Swedish translation of the Divine Liturgy

On May 27, 2012, a new Swedish translation of the Divine Liturgy attributed to St. John Chrysostom will be taken into use in the Orthodox Diocese of Helsinki, Finland. This translation was ratified by the council of bishops of the Orthodox Church in Finland on March 27 this year. This is the first official translation of the Divine Liturgy in Swedish commissioned and ratified by a local Eastern Orthodox Church. The translation was commissioned by Metropolitan Ambrosius of Helsinki in 2010. The goal of the commission was to produce a new theological and philological sound translation into contemporary Swedish fitting the pastoral needs of Swedish-speaking members of the Eastern Orthodox Churches in Finland and Sweden.

The commission making the translation

The commission which produced the translation was composed of members from both Sweden and the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. The commission hired two translators to produce two drafts which would be worked into a single text by the full commission and then sent to a referral group which was consulted before producing the final draft and submitting it to the Diocese of Helsinki and the council of bishops. The two translators were I and Pater Dr. Anders Piltz OP, professor emeritus of Latin, Lund University, and chairman of the Catholic Liturgical Committee (Katolska Liturgiska Nämnden) commissioned to produce the Swedish translations of the Roman Catholic liturgical books for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockholm, Sweden. Both Dr. Piltz and I continued to be connected to the commission as advisers after we had produced our drafts.

The finished translation

The new translation is now at the printers and will officially be taken into used at the Uspensky Cathedral in Helsinki on May 27, 2012. Metropolitan Ambrosius of Helsinki and Bishop Macarie, the Romanian Orthodox bishop of Scandinavia, will preside at this liturgy.

Hilarion Alfeyev in Swedish

I was hired in 2009 by the Artos & Norma Publishing Company to translate Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s The Mystery of Faith into Swedish. The Swedish translation was published as Trons mysterium: En introduktion till den ortodoxa kyrkans troslära och andlighet (Skellefteå: Artos/Anastasis, 2010, 339 pp.).

The publisher’s description of the book (in Swedish):

Efter 70 år av statligt påbjuden ateism och återkommande förföljelser, har den ryska kyrkan under de senaste två decennierna genomgått en närmast mirakulös pånyttfödelse och förnyelse. Svårigheterna är många; den nya friheten innebär många utmaningar. En utgörs av att många i de nya generationerna har diffusa föreställningar om vad kristen tro är. En av de mest framstående i den nya generationen av teologer, lärare och kyrkoledare är metropoliten Hilarion (Alfejev) av Volokolamsk. Hans bok Trons mysterium, tänkt som en lättillgänglig introduktion till ortodox troslära för hans landsmän, utgavs första gången på ryska år 1996 och har hittills utkommit i fem upplagor. Boken har översatts till en rad språk. I Trons mysterium, en introduktion till den ortodoxa kyrkans troslära och andlighet möter vi en undervisning som för många kan bli en ögonöppnare om djupen och klarheten i kyrkans tro.

The translation has also been announced at the Website of the DECR: “The Mystery of Faith” by Metropolitan Hilarion appears in Swedish.