Thompson co-edits, translates ancient letter

Posted September 10, 2014

Trevor Thompson, instructor of New Testament at ACU, and Dr. Clare K. Rothschild, associate professor of theology at Lewis University, recently released a new book they have co-written, Galen’s De indolentia.

De indolentia, or On the Avoidance of Distress, is a letter written by Galen, a Greek physician and ancient writer, to a friend. A French doctoral student discovered the letter nine years ago in a monastic library in Thessalonica, Greece.

In 2011, Thompson and Rothschild produced the first English translation of Galen’s letter, which was subsequently published in Early Christianity. The publication gained international recognition from scholars all over the world, including Vivian Nutton, who characterized the discovery as “one of the most spectacular finds ever of ancient culture.”

For the new volume, the authors combine their own work and latest research to provide an updated translation. Thompson and Rothschild collected and edited essays from scholars in Greece, France, England and the United States, and Thompson compiled additional material for future research.

In De indolentia, Galen recounts personal losses from a fire that consumed his gold, contracts, books, library, medical inventions and other belongings. Galen also shares his expertise regarding the validity and falsity of many second-century texts, as well as information about the ancient library culture.

The Rev. Amy Ziettlow recently discussed Thompson and Rothschild’s work in a personal essay in The Huffington Post, emphasizing the relevance of Galen’s experience to the losses endured by the victims of modern-day tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina.

“These words from a recently discovered letter of ancient physician and philosopher Galen provide new insight into a unique form of grief, the loss of material possessions, and offer guidance for how to chart a path to resiliency,” writes Ziettlow.

Galen’s De indolentia features an introduction by Thompson and Rothschild, as well as essays on different aspects of the text by classicists and scholars of early Christianity.


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