Categories of enthusiasm

Dr Hine writes:

This month, I have begun to prepare the English text of Cassirer’s Categories for online publication. Hitherto unpublished, this is a collation of passages from Paul, organised under forty topic headings. The material is important for understanding how Cassirer read and interpreted Pauls character and thought.

Cassirers Categories of Paul

There are four related items within the physical Cassirer archive, that each represent something of the Categories:

  • A small ring-binder containing notes written in Cassirer’s own hand (CASSIRER 028), organised under a similar series of topical headings—but fewer headings.

  • A spring-bound foolscap folio containing type-written entries under forty headings, with occasional handwritten annotations (CASSIRER 004).

  • A pair of spring-bound foolscap folios containing photocopies of the previous item, split into two volumes (CASSIRER 002-003), and with supplementary pagination.

The typescripts include variable quantities of interlinear Greek, transliterated as needful, given the limitations of the typewriter. This has been added in red ink within the original typescripts, and highlighted with turquoise ink within the photocopies.

So far, I have prepared a publishable text for four of the categories:

  • Circumcision and Uncircumcision

  • Disease

  • Divisions

  • Enthusiasm

One challenge of this work is that for each category, there are two sets of entries. I have not yet come to a firm decision about how best to treat these.

Each set has several distinguishing features:

  • The pages internal to each category are numbered, enabling cross-reference between categories. This numbering system demonstrates a main series (Category heading 1, 2, 3, etc.) and an additional series (Category name, add. 1, 2, etc.). One may assume that the latter is a set of “addenda” or “additions”, but its actual content commonly includes substantial duplication. In the categories I have now processed, most “add.” entries are expansions of entries in the main series, incorporating extra biblical verses. The parallel passages are by no means identikit, as Cassirer’s English renderings of differ.

  • The main series features full category titles on the opening page of each. e.g. “Divisions within the Church lead to fatal results”, “St Paul’s strictures of uncontrolled enthusiasm, (Tongues, etc.)”.

  • There is generally less interlinear Greek in the main series. The addenda tend to incorporate the corresponding Greek text fully, in a supralinear position. The main series tends to supply Greek only to pick out or highlight particular words and phrases.

There need be no doubt that the “add.” entries belong to a later phase of work; their English text is typically closer to that of Cassirer’s published New Testament translation. From the introduction to that work, we know that Cassirer undertook to revise his existing translations of Paul’s letters in 1972, and from a very brief investigation it seems that these addenda may antedate and yet in part anticipate those revisions.

To protect the materials, I am working with digitally-scanned images of the original typescripts. At present, the intention is to transcribe the English language material and to do so “diplomatically”, i.e. to provide a running text that corresponds to that on each leaf of Cassirer’s collation, but without reproducing errors. This approach takes into account two different “use cases”: the English text will be machine readable, providing access to Cassirer’s work for those who cannot easily view the images while enabling it to be read independently (i.e. without looking at the images); it can also serve as a companion to the images (given the necessary viewing portal), for which reason I am keen to provide a separate transcription, even where addenda material duplicates the main series.

If technology prevails, it should be possible for the reader to choose whether to view the main series, the addenda, or both—perhaps even side-by-side.

transcribing Cassirers Categories

The transcription work is an odd process:

I start with a word-processed base text, derived from the scanned images through optical character recognition (an artificial-intelligence attempt to read the text). As elsewhere in the project, this relies on OCR software developed by CZUR.

I edit this to remove scanning errors, delete interlinear Greek portions (which, because of the transliteration, do not fare well during the OCR process), and clean up the text. (There seems to be no value in reproducing errors that stem from the typist’s hands.)

I also tidy up the layout, including a full biblical reference at the head of each entry, for example. Where the typescript shows sign of significant interventions (e.g. a passage has been struck out), I record that using TEI encoding, and attributing responsibility so far as feasible (e.g. a handwritten amendment is typically Cassirer’s own work, and flagged as such). Where, occasionally, it is necessary to intervene, e.g. to supply a missing word, I encode this action, ensuring that this is also logged in such a way as to show I intervened. It is likely that the main published version will not display all this additional data, but it is good scholarly practice to record it.

Paul on enthusiasm

The most recent work has included passages from 1 Corinthians 14, which belong to Cassirer’s “Enthusiasm” category. As I worked I was entertained by a couple of observations:

1 Corinthians 14:7

As the longer version of Cassirer’s category title suggests, Paul is comparing the benefits of speaking in tongues v. prophesying. In verse 7, Paul writes about “τὰ ἄψυχα φωνὴν διδόντα” (ta apsucha phōnén didonta)—things that lack a psyche (the Greek word connotes soul, mind, life) yet “give voice”. The examples are musical instruments.

In the main series, Cassirer renders Paul’s words as “inanimate things that yield a sound”. In the later (addenda), he has “lifeless things ((capable of)) producing sound”. The double brackets here enclose a phrase inserted to communicate the meaning, but not corresponding directly to the Greek. (King James’ translators employed a different typeface for this purpose.) This same rendering is given in the published translation, God’s New Covenant (1989), but without the brackets or any other feature to distinguish the clarificatory insertion. In reading and noting these two renderings, I found myself thinking about Cassirer as philologist and philosopher—his first monograph concerned Aristotle’s understanding of the psyche and its relation to the body. It feels to me as if his renderings of Paul’s words here have a ‘definitional’ quality. “Inanimate”, in particular, encloses the parallel Latin concept, anima, conventionally used to Latinise the title of Aristotle’s work (De Anima).

1 Corinthians 14:10

Elsewhere in this passage, I also noticed a delightfully idiomatic turn of phrase. In the main series, verse 10 reads:

There are, I dare say, ever so many languages in the world, and none is without meaning.

In the addenda, this becomes:

There are, I dare say, ever so many kinds of languages in the world, none of them being without ((significant)) sounds.

And in the published New Testament:

There are, I dare say, all sorts of languages in the world, none of them incapable of conveying meaning.

The mite that had caught my attention has been banished in this published text. At first I suspected that was an editorial hand, posthumously casting out “ever so many”. (A paper on the editing process and its pressures awaits.) However, on having brief opportunity to check the core archive, I found that this wording was already present in a typescript that ought to represent the 1972 revisions (CASSIRER 008; cf. also 050).

I wonder if the reader will agree that while “ever so many” is somewhat out of place in traditional biblical discourse, it has the effect of creating a Paul one can hear speaking directly. The use of I dare sayretains some of that quality. Colloquial Paul.

The image at the head of this page shows the entry for 1 Corinthians 14:10 in the earlier version of Cassirer's Enthusiasm entry. The Greek of 1 Corinthians 14:10 reads: τοσαῦτα εἰ τύχοι γένη φωνῶν εἰσιν ἐν κόσμῳ, καὶ οὐδὲν ἄφωνον.