Slavomír Čéplö (aka bulbul) wrote me as follows:

I have a mystery which I was hoping you or one of the Hatters might help me to solve. It involves a Church Slavic translation of a homily by John Chrysostom (see the attached edition by Reinhart). The text is quite trippy and even Reinhart has to admit he can’t figure out two parts (p. 169), of which the first one is the most interesting: чепито? in “и на чепитѣх(ь) | лежахꙋ ѻтроци, и ѻтроковице” apparently describing some sort of bed or sofa

Does this sound like a challenge worthy of the Hatters?

It does, and I am hereby posting it in the sure and certain hope that there will be an interesting discussion if not a convincing solution. Thanks, Slavo!


  1. It would be helpful to have the exact reference to Reinhart’s publication and a reference to which homily of Chrysostom (or Pseudo-Chrysostom?) is being translated.

  2. It’s Johannes Reinhart, “Древнеболгарский перевод Слова Иоанна Златоуста перед ссылкой (CPG 4397)/Die altbulgarische Übersetzung der Homilie des Johannes Chrysostomus vor der Verbannung (CPG 4397),” Старобългарска литература 33-34 (2005), pp. 167–178. (Abstract here.)

  3. J.W. Brewer says

    Not that I’m actually gonna be able to help substantively but it would also be helpful to those with more relevant skills than I possess have a link to the Greek original of the relevant Chrysostom text (pretty much everything ever attributed to him is gonna be on-line somewhere by this late date?) with pointers to the specific passages in Greek that the particular bits of Slavonic appear to be attempting to render. Of course, the Greek manuscript tradition may have been less than perfectly uniform and it’s always possible that the Slavonic translator happened to have in front of him a particularly weird/mysterious/corrupted Greek MS.

  4. this PhD PDF has Latin and Greek versions and English translations, and calls for a critical edition since there are so many variants.

  5. To get my €5’s worth, here is a fuller version of Reinhart’s note.

    Среди них – слово чепитъ (чепито?) которое пока не поддается объяснению. Судя по контексту, в котором оно встречается (и на чепитѣх(ь) лежахоу отроци, и отроковице, 303ra25), речь идет о предмете, на котором можно лежать, напр. о постеле или о ковре [16].

    [16] Было бы заманчиво думать о связи с греч. τάπης, τάπητ(-ος) ([tapit-]), если первый слог этого слова не слишком отличался. Фонетически еще ближе – древне-верхнемецкое или средне-верхнемецкое заимствования tep(p)it, но и в них существует разница в начальном согласном (č- vs. t-).

    (The PDF didn’t do Unicode, so I may have made some transcription errors.)

  6. Bonfiglio’s thesis, to which mollymooly links, seems superior in most ways, except that its Greek doesn’t do Unicode, either. So, here’s the CPG entry and Migne PG in Google Books and Documenta Catholica Omnia.

    Spolier: the Greek doesn’t have them lying on anything in particular.

  7. I feel like it somehow must be related to Aramaic ṣeppṯā (or ṣeppiṯā) ‘rush mat’ (cognate with sofa).

  8. I am reading the Bonfiglio’s translation and cannot find any boys and girls lying anywhere.

  9. David Eddyshaw says

    Perhaps the Slavonic translator’s mind was wandering a bit at that point. (It might have been to what he was looking forward to at the weekend. Or for dinner. Chepitos! Yum!)

  10. Thank you all for your contributions! I have a full transcription of the Church Slavic text available, if anyone wants it.

    The CS version does indeed stray, which is a bit of a problem for Emilio Bonfiglio, whom I am actually trying to help out here. Except I am as stumped as Reinhart was by this word.

    Y’s suggestion makes very good sense. One problem with it is how we could get č from tsade; I mean it obviously won’t be a direct borrowing…

    Then again, as Reinhart notes, the language of the fragment is full of Turkic words, so I was wondering if maybe we should look in that direction.

  11. You always hesitate to randomly pick words out of a dictionary, but çepit is/was apparently not only another form of şepit, the cheese pastry, but also a dialectal word for ‘rags’, < چبغت chabg̠ẖut ‘a bed; a couch; a pillow, cushion; old faded tapestry or hangings; worn-out clothes; quilting,’ which works.

  12. Who did the translation, and where and when? What languages were they exposed to?

  13. J.W. Brewer says

    One of MMcM’s links indicates there’s an Armenian version (of what antiquity I do not know although could well be very early) that was included in the volume whose title is transliterated as “Yovhannou Oskeberani Konstandnoupolsi episkoposi Jark’, Venise, 1861, p. 360-365.” Those with relevant reading ability (not me!) might want to check that to see if the Armenian provides the missing detail not included in the Greek MS tradition where “the Greek doesn’t have them lying on anything in particular.” I don’t know whether there are early translations into any additional languages (beyond Altbulgarisch, Armenian, & Latin) that might likewise shed light — I assume w/o really knowing that there are early translations of some but by no means all of the corpus attr. to Chrysostom in, let’s see, probably Coptic, Ethiopic and Georgian for starters. Maybe Syriac too? He was a prominent figure of the era shortly before the Church in eastern parts began to splinter over the Christological controversies of the 5th century, and all subsequent factions claimed him as part of their inheritance.

  14. Bonfiglio reproduces Armenian and Syriac translations and follows them along with the Greek, from which they do not seem to vary nearly as much as the Church Slavic (as far as I can tell).

  15. J.W. Brewer says

    Ah, that’s what I get for following some but not all links previously posted in the thread. Both the one I had clicked and the one I then hadn’t mention the (I guess unsurprising) detail that the 1861 Venice publication of the Armenian text was done by that interesting specialty-niche group the

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