Greek text found of Origen’s homilies on the Psalms!

J.-B.Piggin draws my attention to a press release today by the Bayerische StaatsBibliothek.  My own very rough translation of parts of it:

While cataloguing the Greek manuscripts in the Johann Jakob Fuller collection of books, a spectacular discovery was recently made in the Bavarian State Library.  The philologist Marina Molin Pradel during the cataloguing process identified a manuscript containing the original text of numerous homilies on the Psalms by Origen of Alexandria (185-253/4 AD), hitherto unknown in Greek.  The importance of this find for scholarship cannot be overestimated.  The very high probability of the attribution to Origen was confirmed by the internationally recognised Origen scholar Lorenzo Perrone, of the University of Bologna.

… [Origen’s] sermons and explanation on the Psalms were previously extant only in fragments and in Latin translation.  The inconspicuous-looking Greek manuscript whose true contents have now been identified dates from the 12th century.  …

The manuscript has already been digitised by the Bavarian State Library and is already available to everyone on the internet:

www.digitale sammlungen.de- > input “Homiliae in psalmos”

The Bavarian State Library has more than 650 Greek manuscripts and is thus the largest collection in Germany.   It is heavily used by scholars.  The work was done in-house by the Manuscript Development Centre and funded by the German Research Foundation.  The find makes clear the necessity and the value of this detailed and elaborate analysis.  The catalogue of the Greek manuscripts at the Bavarian State Library is celebrating its 20th anniversary.  It will take at least 15 more years until all the Greek manuscripts have been freshly described.

I imagine that all of us must feel real excitement here.  I wish there were more details.  But who could have imagined that such an item might exist in so major an archive?  What else is out there???  What lies hidden by the wretched catalogues of most institutions, where none but the staff can browse casually?

And … well done, CEO Rolf Griebel, to put the thing on the web.  How many libraries would have done that?  How many would have tried to hide it, to “control” it, to create a little monopoly, to force scholars to write pleading letters, to feed their own vanity?  More than we might like to think.  Instead the BSB have simply put it on the web for everyone to see.  I unsay a good many of the hard things that I have said about Germany and the internet, when I see something like this.

Now … go out there, you scholars, and DO something with this!

19 Responses to “Greek text found of Origen’s homilies on the Psalms!”


  1. JB Piggin

    Better search term: “Homiliae in psalmos”.

  2. The Rediscovery of the Origen’s Homilies to the Psalms (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod.graec. 314) | Alin Suciu

    […] details on the website of the library. Roger Pearse already offered an English translation of the press release. The photographic reproduction of the entire codex is available HERE. Share […]

  3. stephan huller

    Great news! perhaps the most interesting part will be examining the accuracy of the Latin translation. My guess – in critical sections, not very accurate

  4. William Varner

    Now maybe a manuscript of Papias’ Discourse on the Lord’s Sayings is hidden somewhere.

  5. Stephan Huller

    Apparently Rufinus translated nine homilies on the Psalms (five on Psalm 36, two on Psalm 37, and two on Psalm 38)http://books.google.com/books?id=riEdrWEDFq0C&pg=PA28&dq=%22homilies+on+the+psalms%22+origen&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WLfWT-zHC6aC2AWM-NyNCw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22homilies%20on%20the%20psalms%22%20origen&f=false

  6. Stephan Huller
  7. stephan huller

    Behold who ruled thirty years ago, how his rule flourished, but suddenly “like the flower of the grass” he withered away; then another after and another, who next became rulers and princes and “all their glory” and honor withered away, not only “as the flower,” but also as dry dust and was scattered by the wind. Not even a vestige remained of it.

    This is perhaps our most important historical reference for Origen from the Church Father himself. It appears in his Homily on the 36th Psalm. He refers to a ruler whose rule flourished 30 years ago and then withered “like the flower of the grass”, to be followed “by another,” all of whom had their glory that also withered and was scattered like dust, so that no vestige remains of it (HomPs 36 1.2). Nautin has suggested that the man to whom Origen refers who ruled 30 years ago was Septimius Severus. Origen refers to four rulers in this paragraph, all of whom had their moments of glory, he says, and then faded. I think he is referring to the four Severan rulers: Septimius, Caracalla, Elagabalus, and Alexander, skipping over the usurper Macrinus who ruled only one year after he had murdered Caracalla. Septimius Severus died in February 211. The latest date for Origen’s sermon, then, if he was using Septimius’ death as his point of reference, would be 241.

    It would be wonderful to see if Greek manuscript can give us some additional information!

  8. Who knows what one will find in a library… « For Christ and His Kingdom

    […] most important exegetes in history on the Psalms consisted of a few Latin fragments. Here’s a link to see a rough translation of the press release and explanation of the […]

  9. Manuscript discovered containing (most likely!) homilies of Origen « The Poulos Blog

    […] will have already heard the news from other sources (id est, here or here) that researchers in Europe believe they have uncovered a manuscript containing lots of […]

  10. dotCommonweal » Blog Archive » Newly-discovered works by Origen?

    […] much else. I did find some more via the blog of Roger Pearse. What will homilies say? Orthodoxy? Heresy? Just lovely musings on the Psalms? I’m thanking […]

  11. Contro l'imbecillità collettiva

    […] (Qui e qui altre belle considerazioni sulla notizia, da parte di uno dei più bei blog di patristica di tutto il Web) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Mi piaceBe the first to like this post. […]

  12. Origene ritrovato « Contro l'imbecillità collettiva

    […] (Qui e qui altre belle considerazioni sulla notizia, da parte di uno dei più bei blog di patristica di tutto il Web) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Mi piaceBe the first to like this post. […]

  13. Which of Origen’s homilies on the Psalms were previously known, and more on Jerome at Roger Pearse

    […] new find of Origen’s homilies on the Psalms raised the question of what already existed.  Alin Suciu listed the homilies found, as I mentioned […]

  14. Translation of part of one of the new Origen homilies at Roger Pearse

    […] Via Alin Suciu I learn that Alex Poulos has transcribed and translated part of one of the newly discovered homilies on the Psalms by Origen: […]

  15. Origen’s Homilies | Medieval Histories

    […] As with the corresponding find in Erfurt of six “new” homilies by Augustine in 2008, they are sure to broaden our knowledge of the Early Christian Church and the life, which was lead by the baptized as well as the catechumens. But also, which might be just as important, the knowledge of what was available as inspirational material in the later medieval church, when sermons were to be delivered with somewhat the same regularity. One might wonder what other hidden gems may be found in the as yet un-catalogued collections in German libraries. The Bavarian State Library has more than 650 Greek manuscripts and is thus the largest collection in Germany. However, the current re-cataloguing is estimated to take at least 15 more years. […]

  16. Brent Seales

    Bravo to this library for publishing. Regarding the comment “how many [libraries] would have tried to hide it, to “control” …” How many *scholars* would? I’m finding that institutions are starting to ignore the vanity of these scholars by going ahead and releasing things to the *community of scholars* rather than the privileged few who happen to be connected or in control. And bravo for this trend, for it truly energizes the broader community of scholars who have interest in the material. Soon I hope we’ll get back to scholarship that rests on true discovery and hard work, rather than privileged access and unverifiable assertion.

  17. Roger Pearse

    I agree. The vanity of scholars who sit on discoveries is an appalling, yet endemic thing. James M. Robinson had to fight to get the Nag Hammadi texts out there. The Dead Sea Scrolls are another example. One could go on.

  18. Andrew Harrington

    I don’t know Greek, but does Origen make any references to Apocrypha and/or Pseudopigrapha in any of those discovered homilies? (or any quotations from books like James/2 Peter, which seem rare to find quotations).

  19. Roger Pearse

    Interesting question. Let’s hope so! (I can’t read the ms. online either)



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