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The Earliest Ever Commentary on Scripture

November 3, 2010

The Commentary on Daniel by Hippolytus of Rome (d.235) “represents the earliest known exegetical treatise of the Christian Church that we possess.” The entire text is extant in an Old Slavonic version and much of it is exists in the original Greek in fragments (Quasten, Patrology, II.171). It might be surprising that the first commentary we have is on Daniel! It might also be surprising that this work has only recently been translated. Both the Greek text and the English translation can be downloaded from the links below. Origen visited Rome and heard Hippolytus preach, and so Hippolytus might well have served as some sort of inspiration for his great number of exegetical works (Quasten, II.163). Origen of course, went on to spark a great tradition of exegetical commentaries in the east that lasted for centuries. The picture to the left is likely a statue of Hippolytus that was constructed in the third century, but only discovered in a cemetery in Rome in 1551.

For the Greek text, click here.

For the English translation (for free!), click here. Many thanks to the translator!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2010 8:40 pm

    I’m glad you appreciate the translation, tell me, where did you get that picture? Was it from Allen Brent’s book? I’ve been looking for some out of copyright picture and had no luck.

    • Matthew Crawford permalink
      November 6, 2010 5:57 am

      Tom, I just grabbed the photograph from Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, the image is in the public domain because the copyright has expired:
      Thanks again! Do you have any other translation projects you are currently working on?

      • November 17, 2010 10:50 pm

        Thanks for the info, I was looking for an image to publish in my book, but I had to make sure it was out of copyright, you are probably right that this one is, I’ll have to confirm it though (don’t want to get sued!)

        Right now I’m working on translating some new fragments/testimonies of Papias that I found, to add them to my webpage on Papias. (none of the fragments probably stem directly from Papias himself but interesting none the less)

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