106. Of ST. SABA.
There is extant in the various European libraries a religious romance, or, as some have regarded it, a history, Ὁ Βίος Βαρλαὰμ καὶ Ἰωασάφ
, Barlaami et Joasaphi Vita,
as yet unpublished, except in versions, especially in an ancient Latin version, De Barlaam et Josaphat Historia,
to which, in the printed editions, the name of Georgius Trapezuntius is often prefixed, but which is much more ancient than the time in which he lived [GEORGIUS, No. 48], and is ascribed by some to Anastasius Bibliothecarius, a writer of the 8th century.
The work professes to contain the account of the conversion of Joasaph or Josaphat, son of Abenner, an idolatrous and sensual Indian king, and a persecutor of the Christian monks of India, because they had induced some of his nobles to forsake a luxurious life, and become solitaries. Joasaph, a youth pursuing his studies, was converted by Barlaam, a Christian, with whom he met, and whose various instructions to him are given at considerable length. Suspicion arising from their frequent conferences, Barlaam was compelled to fly, and Josaphat had to encounter reproaches from his father, and temptations, by which it was hoped to lead him into sin.
He succeeded in converting his principal opponents, and at length his father, on whose death he came to the throne, but soon resigned it, retired to solitude, and lived many years with his old friend Barlaam, whom he succeeded in finding. On the death of Barlaam he buried him, and on his own death was buried near him.
The writer professes to have derived his narrative from some pious men of Aethiopia Interior, "quos Indos vocant;" and is himself described in MSS. as Ἰωάννης μοναχὸς ἀνὴρ τίμιος καὶ ἐνάρετος μονῆς τοῦ ἁγίου Σάβα
, "John the Monk, an honourable and virtuous man of the monastery of St. Saba."
It is ascribed by some, especially by Billy, who argues the point at some length, to Joannes Damascenus [DAMASCENUS], who was a monk of St. Saba; but Le Quien did not include it in his edition of the works of that father. Others ascribe it to a Joannes Sinaita or Joannes of Mt. Sinai, others to Joannes Climacus. [CLIMACUS.]
The Latin version has been published, however, by other editors among the works of Damascenus, and separately by Billy, 12mo. Antwerp, 1602
. There are two more ancient editions, one a small folio in black letter
, the other in 4to.
: neither of them have any indication of time or place. There are also two ancient editions, one in black letter, printed at Augsburg about A. D. 1470
; the other also at Augsburg, perhaps about A. D. 1477.
Fabric. Bibl. Gr.
vol. viii. p. 144, vol. ix. p. 737; Lambecius, Comment. de Biblioth. Caesarea,
lib. viii. col. 14, &c., ed. Kollar; Panzer, Annal. Typograph.
vol. iii. p. 30, No. 67, vol. iv. p. 93, No. 158; Denis, Annal. Typog. Maittaire, Supplement,
p. 505, Nos. 4331, 4332, p. 593, Nos. 5194, 5195.