Translation: Eusebius on the Psalms Pt. 2

With the exception of the “hypotheses,” I believe this rounds out the introductory material in Eusebius’s Commentary on the Psalms. This is a continuation from this post. This particular text comes from Migne’s Patrologia Graeca 23.73-76. The extract here is interesting because Eusebius gives a theory of textual transmission of the Psalms, after noting some of the differences between the Hebrew texts and the Greek texts. He is careful to point out that the Psalms are not in chronological order, and then gives an explanation why. He ends with a note on the importance of the Psalms for the Church.

In characteristic fashion, here’s my translation followed by the Greek text. There are a few spots I’m not sure about, but I think I’ve rendered most of it sufficiently.

My Translation:

Eusebius on the Psalms (Continued)

In the Hebrew Book of Psalms, except for the addition of numbers, all of the Psalms are inscribed differently. There are some that stand together, and some that are split apart. Carelessly, the first and second ones stand together in the Hebrew. And again, the ninth psalm, united for us, is divided into two in the Hebrew. One must see, though, that the structure of the psalms does not follow chronological order. They were rearranged, just as the book of the Kings and the present arrangement shows. For the nation of the Jews was condemned of idolatry. As it says, they forgot to esteem the writings of their fathers, for they did not carry the book of the law of Moses, nor did they remember the reverence of their forefathers. For this reason the prophets spoke vehemently against their ungodliness.

Thus it is not amazing that at this lowest and most disheveled of times, some of the psalms would fall away, not being handed down for a long period. But after this, either Ezra or some other prophet, devoted himself to gathering the psalms together, which then became how the book of the psalms was arranged. They were not discovered all at once, but rather at different times. And in their binding, the first ones found were placed first. They were not arranged so that all of the Psalms of David went together. Rather, in between these psalms were those of the Sons of Korah, those of Asaph, those of Solomon and Moses, those of Aiman, and of Jedethum. And even after all of these, more psalms of David were place in the arrangement. Thus those that were written later may have been found and taken up first. And those that were written first were found later in the second group. And the same thing is found in the prophets. All were thus placed into a certain great and new storehouse, the Book of Psalms.

You must observe this, as the book of the Psalms offers us new teaching after the laws of Moses. And because it is second after the laws and writings of Moses, this book is fit for teaching. For just as Joshua came after Moses, and David came after the judges, in the same way the Father has considered worthy a new way of the Psalms, different than what had been given first to the Hebrews. It is the way of the Savior. The first way lifts up the things of Moses, and the sacrifices of the Law. But the Savior’s new way instructs us to sing and shout our worship of God, and that the law of Moses is transcended entirely through his work.

And for those interested, here’s the Greek text:


Ἐν τῇ Ἑβραϊκῇ βίβλῳ τῶν ψαλμῶν ἄνευ τῆς τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ προσθήκης ἀνεγράφησαν οἱ πάντες καὶ διαφόρως. Οἱ μέν εἰσι συνημμένοι, οἱ δὲ διῃρημένοι. Ἀμέλει ὁ μὲν πρῶτος καὶ δεύτερος συνημμένοι εἰσὶ κατὰ τὸ Ἑβραϊκόν· καὶ πάλιν ὁ ἔνατος, συνημμένος παρ’ ἡμῖν, ἐν τῷ Ἑβραϊκῷ διῄρηται εἰς δύο. Παρατηρητέον δὲ, ὅτι μὴ κατὰ ἀκολουθίαν τῶν τῆς ἱστορίας χρόνων ἡ τῶν ψαλμῶν σύγκειται τάξις· ἐνήλλακται δὲ παρὰ πολὺ, καθὼς ἡ βίβλος τῶν Βασιλειῶν, καὶ αὕτη ἡ τάξις δηλοῖ. Πολλῆς τοίνυν κατακρατησάσης εἰδωλολατρείας τοῦ Ἰουδαίων ἔθνους, λήθην αὐτούς φασι πεποιῆσθαι τῶν πατρίων γραφῶν, ὡς μηδὲ τοῦ Μωϋσέως νόμου βίβλον ἐπιφέρεσθαι, μηδὲ μνήμην τῆς τῶν πατέρων εὐσεβείας ἀποσώζειν. Οὕτω γοῦν τοὺς προφήτας ἀνῄρουν διελέγχοντας αὐτῶν τὰς δυσσεβείας.

Οὐδὲ νῦν θαυμαστὸν ἐν τοιαύτῃ καταστάσει καιρῶν καὶ τῶν ἐμφερομένων τινὰς τῇ βίβλῳ τῶν ψαλμῶν διαπεπτωκέναι, λήθῃ τε μακροῖς παραδεδόσθαι χρόνοις. Ὕστερον δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα, εἴτε Ἔσδραν, εἴτε τινὰς ἑτέρους προφήτας, περὶ τὴν συναγωγὴν αὐτῶν ἐσπουδακέναι, μεθ’ ὧν καὶ τὴν βίβλον τῶν ψαλμῶν ἡγιοχέναι, οὐκ ἀθρόως εὑρόντα τοὺς πάντας, ἀλλὰ κατὰ διαφόρους χρόνους. Καὶ τάττειν δὲ ἐν πρώτοις τοὺς πρώτους εὑρισκομένους· μηδὲ τοὺς τοῦ Δαυῒδ ἐφεξῆς κεῖσθαι πάντας· ἔν τε τῷ μεταξὺ καὶ τῶν υἱῶν Κορὲ, καὶ τοῦ Ἀσὰφ, καὶ Σολομῶντος, καὶ Μωϋσέως, Αἰμάν τε, καὶ Αἰθὰν, καὶ Ἰδιθοὺμ, καὶ πάλιν τοῦ Δαυῒδ εὑρίσκεσθαι ἀναμὶξ ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ κατατεταγμένους, οὐ καθ’ οὓς ἐλέχθησαν χρόνους, ἀλλὰ καθ’ οὓς εὕρηνται. Ἔνθεν τε συμβῆναι τοὺς τοῖς χρόνοις ὑστέρους πρώτους εὑρεθέντας, ἀναληφθῆναι προτέρους· τοὺς δὲ προτέρους μετὰ ταῦτα εὑρεθέντας ἐν δευτέρᾳ ταγῆναι χώρᾳ· τὸ δ’ αὐτὸ εὕροις γεγενημένον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις. Πάντα ὥσπερ ἐν μεγάλῳ τινὶ καὶ κοινῷ ταμείῳ τῇ βίβλῳ τῶν ψαλμῶν τεθησαύρισται.

Κἀκεῖνο δὲ τηρή 23.76 σεις, ὡς ἡ βίβλος τῶν ψαλμῶν καινὴν διδασκαλίαν περιέχει μετὰ τὴν Μωϋσέως νομοθεσίαν, καὶ ὅτι δευτέρα μετὰ τὴν Μωϋσέως νομοθεσίαν γραφὴν διδασκαλικὴ βίβλος αὕτη τυγχάνει. Μετὰ γοῦν τὴν Μωϋσέως καὶ Ἰησοῦ τελευτὴν καὶ μετὰ τοὺς κριτὰς Δαυῒδ γενόμενος, ὡσανεὶ τοῦ Σωτῆρος αὐτὸς χρηματίσαι πατὴρ καταξιωθεὶς, καινὸν τρόπον τὸν τῆς ψαλμῳδίας πρῶτος Ἑβραίοις παρέδωκε· δι’ ἧς ἀναιρεῖ μὲν τὰ παρὰ Μωϋσῇ περὶ θυσιῶν νενομοθετημένα, καινὸν δὲ τὸν δι’ ὕμνων καὶ ἀλαλαγμῶν τρόπον τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ λατρείας εἰσάγει· καὶ ἄλλα δὲ πλεῖστα τὸν Μωϋσέως νόμον ἐπαναβεβηκότα δι’ ὅλης αὐτοῦ τῆς πραγματείας διδάσκει.

Translation: A Hypothesis of Eusebius Pamphilli

This is a short bit of introduction, and it has been by far the easiest to translate. The first sentence is a bit difficult (I *think* I got the gist of it), but the rest was fairly straightforward. In this passage, Eusebius discusses authorship and the divisions in the Psalter. There are some interesting tidbits here, since the numbers don’t always exactly match what we find today. For instance there are 72 Davidic Psalms for Eusebius, not 73. This is probably due to some Psalms combining and splitting in the Greek versus the Hebrew, but I haven’t looked at it closely enough to figure out.

Anyways, here’s my translation followed by the Greek text. This text occurs in Migne’s Patrologia Graeca 23.66, if my memory serves.

A Hypothesis of Eusebius Pamphilli

There is a division on the book of the Psalms, as to the accuracy of our copies versus the ones the Hebrews offer. It is not as some might suppose that all the Psalms were written be David, but rather different prophets, in their singing, prophesied. Therefore, not the entire book of the Hebrews Psalms is ascribed to David, but the book of Psalms, in its entirety, is not ascribed to anyone. The Hebrews divide all of the Psalms into five parts. The first is from Psalm 1 to Psalm 40. The second is from Psalm 41 to Psalm 72. The third is from Psalm 73 to Psalm 88. The fourth is from Psalm 89 to Psalm 105. The fifth is from Psalm 106 until the end. There are 19 Psalms that are uninscribed, and 131 that have inscriptions. Those that have inscriptions have these divisions: There are 72 of David, 11 of the sons of Korah, 12 of Asaph, 1 of Aitham the Israelite, 2 of Solomon, 1 of Moses, and 17 are unnamed, of which 15 are “Hallelelujahs.” There are entirely anonymous inscriptions, which don’t reveal their author.


Τῆς βίβλου τῶν Ψαλμῶν ἥδε ἂν εἴη ἡ διαίρεσις, ὡς τὰ ἀκριβῆ τῶν ἀντιγράφων αὐτό τε τὸ Ἑβραϊκὸν περιέχει. Οὐχ ὡς ἄν τις ὑπολάβοι πάντες εἰσὶ τοῦ Δαυῒδ οἱ ψαλμοὶ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἑτέρων προφητῶν ἐν τῷ ψάλλειν προφητευόντων. Διόπερ ἡ πᾶσα γραφὴ παρ’ Ἑβραίοις τῶν ψαλμῶν οὐ τοῦ Δαυῒδ ἐπιγράφει· ἀλλ’ ἀδιορίστως βίβλος ψαλμῶν ὀνομάζεται. Εἰς πέντε δὲ μέρη τὴν πᾶσαν τῶν Ψαλμῶν βίβλον παῖδες Ἑβραίων διαιροῦσι· πρῶτον εἰς τοὺς ἀπὸ αʹ μέχρι μʹ· δεύτερον εἰς τοὺς ἀπὸ μαʹ μέχρις οβʹ· τρίτον εἰς τοὺς ἀπὸ ογʹ μέχρις πηʹ· τέταρτον εἰς τοὺς ἀπὸ πθʹ μέχρις ρεʹ· πέμπτον εἰς τοὺς ἀπὸ ρςʹ μέχρι τέλους. Ἀνεπίγραφοι δέ εἰσι ψαλμοὶ ιθʹ, ἐπιγεγραμμένοι ρλαʹ. Τῶν ἐπι 23.68 γεγραμμένων δέ εἰσιν οὕτως αἱ διαιρέσεις· τοῦ μὲν Δαυῒδ οβʹ, τῶν υἱῶν Κορὲ ιαʹ, τοῦ Ἀσὰφ ιβʹ, Αἰθὰμ τοῦ Ἰσραηλίτου εἷς, Σολομῶντος βʹ, Μωϋσέως εἷς, ἀνώνυμοι ιζʹ, τῶν εἰς τὸ Ἀλληλούϊα ιεʹ. Εἰσὶ δὲ ἀνώνυμοι ὅσοι ἐπιγραφὰς μὲν ἔχουσιν, οὐ μὴν δηλοῦσι τίνος εἰσίν.

Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms: A Structural Overview

Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms is a massive work: my single spaced PDF fills over 500 pages of Greek text. It contains commentary, abbreviated and full, for the first 118 Psalms. Apparently, we have the full commentary for Psalms 51-95.3. The work also has several chunks of text that deal with the Psalms in general. These occur in the beginning of Migne’s edition. There is also a section between the 81 and 82 Psalms which discusses the Psalms ascribed to Asaph.

So, an outline of the work, as we have it from Migne, might look like this: (Where I’ve translated, I’ll fill in hyperlinks)

    Overview. These are general bits.

  • Eusebius on the Inscriptions of the Psalms. Some Abbreviated Teaching. Here he talks about the different kinds of psalms, according to their inscriptions (A Psalm, a Psalm of the Ode, and Ode of the Psalm, etc.)
  • A Hypothesis of Eusebius Pamphilli. This section discusses the authorship and divisions of the Psalms.
  • The Hypotheses of Eusebius on the Psalms. This section contains short thematic statements for each of the Psalms. Part 1
  • Eusebius on the Psalms. This is a longer extract which covers much of the same material as the other sections in the overview, but it goes into more detail. It discusses the origin of the Psalms, the authors, and several other topics. Part 1, Part 2
  • Eusebius of Caesarea on the Interlude. This is the last introductory bit, and it gives Eusebius’ explanation of how the “interludes” came about in the Psalms. Interlude translates the Greek work διαψαλμα, which translates the Hebrew Selah.

  • Psalms 1-71
  • On The Inscriptions of the Psalms Ascribed to Asaph
  • Psalms 72-118

Eusebius on the Psalms Pt. 1 (More Translation)

So I’m continuing to work through the Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms in small chunks. The next couple of translated bits will be the final part his general thoughts on the entire Psalter, minus his “theses.” He also has a portion that addresses the Psalms of Asaph that I may translate as well. The translations here aren’t very good, but I do them for two reasons. One, I’m not aware of any English translations of this work, minus the translation of Eusebius’ commentary on Psalm 51 here. So nearly any translation is better than no translation ;-). Second, they help me actually understand the work. My tendency is to breeze over things I don’t understand. Slowly working through the work helps me make sense of the text in a much deeper way, since I usually have to read over it many times before I figure out what’s going on.

Anyways, here’s some text and translation. This bit of writing contains some stuff which is said in the other sections of the work, but Eusebius goes into more detail here. My posts are probably quite confusing since they tend to follow the section titles which aren’t helpful for distinguishing different parts. At some point I’ll do a post detailing the layout of the stuff in Migne. But in the meantime here’s some translation:

Eusebius on the Psalms (From PG 23.72-73)

The word psalm is like the word psalterion, after which it is called. For it is said of the psalterion that it is a musical instrument which differs from the harp by shape. By it, the music of the song is named. But an ode comes begins entirely through the instrument of melodious voices. A “Psalm of the Ode” is called such because the singing part is preceded by the striking of the psalterion. But an “Ode of the Psalm” is the opposite.

Thus it is in the histories of the Kings and the Others, King David, who came after Saul’s end, brought the Ark to Jerusalem, which had been in the house of Abdodom for 20 years after its recovery from the Philistines. As as he was bringing it into Jerusalem, David appointed by lot from the tribe of Levi four psalmists to lead the singing, to sing and praise before the ark to the Lord, and to raise up a merry sound of praise and worship by their instruments. Asaph, Aiman, Aithan, and Jeduthun worshiped by songs, kinuras, nablas [a type of harp], tumpanas, cymbals, and the psalterion [a different kind of harp]. With these men the songs had been numbered. There were 288 songs, 72 by each. 32 from the race of Ham, 25 from the race of Shem, and 15 from race of Japheth.

These men, standing before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, sang and psalmed to the Lord. One with the kinara, one with the cymbals, one with the kithara [a kind of harp], and one with the psalterion [a different kind of harp]. In the middle of them stood the blessed David, himself the leader of the song-leaders, holding in his hands the psalterion [a kind of harp]. Each sang and psalmed together while praising God by the Holy Spirit. Then, at a certain time, the Spirit would blow on one of the song-leaders, and the rest would be led to silence. While standing and listening together to the singing, they sang “Hallelujah.”

And here’s the Greek:


Ὁ μὲν ψαλμὸς ἔοικεν ἀπὸ τοῦ ψαλτηρίου παρωνύμως ἐπικεκλῆσθαι· λέγεται δὲ ψαλτήριον ὄργανόν τι μουσικὸν παρὰ τὴν κιθάραν διαλλάττον τῷ σχήματι, ἐν ᾧ τὴν ἀνακρουομένην ᾠδὴν ψαλμὸν προσαγορεύεσθαι. Ὠδὴν δὲ εἶναι τὴν διὰ μέλους ἀναφωνουμένην ἄνευ ὀργάνου ῥῆσιν μουσικήν. Ψαλμὸν δὲ ᾠδῆς λέγεσθαι, ἐπειδὰν προηγησαμένης τὸ αὐτὸ τῆς ᾠδῆς μέλος διὰ τοῦ ψαλτηρίου κρουσθῇ· ᾠδὴν δὲ ψαλμοῦ τὸ ἀνάπαλιν.

Ὡς ἐν ταῖς ἱστορίαις τῶν Βασιλειῶν καὶ τῶν Παραλειπομένων Δαυῒδ ὁ βασιλεὺς μετὰ τὴν τοῦ Σαοὺλ τελευτὴν, ἀναγαγὼν τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς Διαθήκης Κυρίου, οὖσαν ἐν οἴκῳ Ἀβδοδὼμ ἔτεσιν εἴκοσιν ἐξότου ἐκ τῶν Ἀζωτίων μετενήνεκτο, καὶ κατα 23.73 στήσας αὐτὴν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ, ἐπιλέγεται ἐκ τῆς φυλῆς Λευῒ κλήρῳ ψαλτῳδοὺς ἄρχοντας ᾠδῶν τέσσαρας, τοῦ ψάλλειν καὶ ᾄδειν ἐνώπιον τῆς κιβωτοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ, καὶ ἀναφέρειν φωνὴν εὐφροσύνης εἰς ἐξομολόγησιν καὶ αἴνεσιν ἐν ὀργάνοις ἡρμοσμένοις, καὶ ᾠδαῖς, καὶ κινύραις, καὶ νάβλαις, καὶ τυμπάνοις, καὶ κυμβάλοις, καὶ ψαλτηρίῳ, καὶ 3 κερατίνῃ, τὸν Ἀσὰφ, Αἰμὰν, Αἰθὰν, Ἰδιθούμ· οἷς ἀριθμὸς ᾠδῶν ἐπετέτακτο, ᾀδόντων διακοσίων ὀγδοήκοντα ὀκτὼ, ἑκάστῳ ἑβδομήκοντα δύο, ἐκ τοῦ Χὰμ λβʹ, τοῦ Σὴμ κεʹ, τοῦ Ἰάφεθ ιεʹ.

Οἵτινες, ἑστῶτες ἔμπροσθεν τῆς κιβωτοῦ Διαθήκης Κυρίου, ἔψαλλον καὶ ᾖδον τῷ Κυρίῳ· ὃς μὲν ἐν κινύρᾳ, ὃς δὲ ἐν κυμβάλοις, ὃς δὲ ἐν κιθάρᾳ. ὃς δὲ ἐν ψαλτηρίῳ· ὧν μέσος ἵστατο ὁ μακάριος Δαυῒδ, αὐτὸς ἄρχων ἀρχόντων ᾠδῶν, κρατῶν ἐπὶ χεῖρας τὸ ψαλτήριον. Ἕκαστος δὲ ᾖδεν καὶ ἔψαλλεν ὑμνῶν τὸν Θεὸν ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι τεταγμένως. Ἡνίκα τοίνυν ἐσκίρτα τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐπί τινα τῶν ἀρχόντων τῶν ψαλτῳδῶν, οἱ λοιποὶ ἡσυχίαν ἦγον παρεστῶτες καὶ ὑπακούοντες συμφώνως τῷ ψάλλοντι, Ἀλληλούϊα.