The early translations of Chrysostom into Latin — 5. The collection of 38 homilies

The next section in Voicu’s article discusses a collection of 38 sermons by John Chrysostom in a Latin version, which are found in various manuscripts of the 9th century onwards, including the one online at Cologne which I referred to a few posts back.

Dom Andre Wilmart drew up a list of the contents in his 1918 article.  Let’s give that list here, together with where they appear in Migne’s Patrologia Graeca.

1.-2.)  In Psalmum 50 homiliae 1-2 (PG 55, 565-588)
3) In Psalmum 122 (PG 55, 351-353)
4) In Psalmum 150 (PG 55, 495-498)
5) De beata Iob (not actually by Chrysostom, but an extract from Augustine, De excidio urbis Romae)
6) De ascension Eliae (original Latin; Wenk 1988, p. 100-108)
7) De septem Macchabaeis (PG 50, 617-624)
8. De tribus pueris (original Latin; Wenk 1988, p. 117-121)
9) De sancta Susanna (again not by Chrysostom, but a cento of Augustine, De Susanna et Ioseph sermo)
10) De proditione Iudae homilia I (PG 49, 373-382)
11) De cruce et latrone homilia 1 (PG 49, 399-418): quoted by Leo the Great.
12) De cruce et latrone (original Greek in Wenger, 1954)
13) In uenerabilem crucem sermo (Browne 1990, PG 50, 815-820): quoted by Augustine.
14) In ascensionem D. N. Iesu Christi (PG 50, 441-452): quoted by Leo the great.
15) In pentecosten sermo 1 (PG 50, 803-808)
16) De nativitate Domini (original Latin by Jerome; PLS 2, 188 to 193)
17) De natiuitate Domini et Iohannis Baptistae (ed. Botte 1932, pp. 93-105; provenance unknown, possibly from a Greek model, cf. CPL 2276)
18) In resurrectionem Lazari (original Latin Potamius of Lisbon, ed. Wilmart 1918b): cited by Augustine.
19) De Chananaea (pC 52, 449-460) ruled in Constantinople in 403;
20-23) Four works on the gospels, actually by Jerome (PLS 2, 125-188)
24) De recipiendo Seueriano (PG 52, 423-426) given in Constantinople in 401 AD.
25) Severian of Gabala, De pace (ed. Kerameus-Papadopoulos 1891, p. 15-26): also 401 A.D.  Migne does print a text of this in Latin.
26) In Genesim sermo 1 (PG 54, 581-585);
27) De eruditione disciplinae (actually a compilation from the works of Cyprian, ed. Wenk 1988. pp. 127-138)
28) In Eutropium (PG 52, 391-396) given at Constantinople in 399.
29) Cum de expulsione eius ageretur (PG 52, 427-436) given at Constantinople in 403.
30) Ad Theodorum lapsum liber 2 (PG 47, 309-316; Greek text and Latin version in Dumortier, 1966a, p. 46-79 and 241-256)
31) De militia spiritali (Greek text transmitted under the name of Basil of Cesarea; PG 31, 620-625; cf. CPL 1147; CPG 288)
32) De militia christiana (Latin text ed. Wenk 1988, pp. 145-156)
33) De patre et duobus filiis (actually by ps. Jerome; cf. CPL 766; ed. Wenk 1988, pp. 170-188).
34) Sermo ad Neophytos (Greek text and Latin version: Wenger 1970, pp.150-181 ): version citated by Julian of Eclanum.
35) De turture seu de Ecclesia sermo (PG 55, 599-602)
36) Quando ipse de Asia regressus est (Greek text and Latin version: Wenger 1961, pp. 110-123).
37) Post reditum a priore exsilio (Greek text omitted from PG; found in old editions, e.g., Montfaucon 1721, pp. 424-425; ancient Latin version : PG 52, 441-442).
38) De fide in Christo (possibly from a lost Greek original).

Some mss add a further four texts as an appendix.

Bouhot in 1971 analysed a version of the Wilmart collection which added extra works, omitted 1-2, and omitted 14-15 although it retained mention of them in the index of contents.  The order differed as well; consisting of 3-9, 16-17, 10-13; then 34, in a revised recension used by Augustine; then Ad illuminandos catechesis 1 (PG 49,  223-232); then 18-38; then De paenitentia homilia 5 (PG 49, 305-312; the Latin version is divided into two parts); Ad populum Antiochenum homilia 1 (PG 49, 15-34); Epistula 3 (Greek Malingrey 1968, pp. 242-305; PG 52, 572-590): cited by Augustine.

A comparison of the two editions of the collection indicates that the Bouhot version is closer to that used by Augustine.  But neither matches exactly, or includes all the works referenced by Augustine.

Voicu then proceeds to analyse this collection at some length.  It has been asserted that this collection was also translated by Anianus of Celeda.  But nothing suggests this.  There are no dedicatory epistles, and the standard of comprehension of the Greek seems to be inferior.

Various citations of the collection in the 5th century indicate that this collection circulated in that period.

Some manuscripts add what has been called the “ascetic appendix”:

39) Quod nemo laeditur nisi a seipso (ed. Malingrey 1964; PG 52, 459-480).
40-41 ) Ad Demetrium de compunctione liber I and Ad Stelechium de compunctione liber 2 (PG 47, 399-422; in latin under the single title De
compunctione cordis).
42) Ad Theodorum lapsum liber I (PG 47, 277-308; Greek text and Latin version: Dumortier I 966a, pp. 80-218 and 257-322).

The date of the addition is unclear, but must be quite early, as it is mentioned in a ms. of the 7th century, Cod. Vaticanus Reginensis Latinus 2077, which lists some works of Chrysostom:

De compunctione animae liber unus, Neminem posse laedi nisi a semet ipso, In laudem beati Pauli apostoli volumen egregium, De excessibus et offensione Eutropii praefecti praetorio.

These may easily be recognised as nos 40, 41 and 39 of the collection, then the translation by Anianus of Celeda of the works on Paul, and finally no 28.  A similar list is found in Isidore of Seville.

Voicu finishes his splendid article by telling us that there are further Latin translations from the 6-8th centuries, and refers us to Bouhot (1989, p.34).  The article ends with three pages of incredibly useful bibliography.  My only question is why this useful article is not online?  And that, I fear, we all know the answer to: copyright.

The early translations of Chrysostom into Latin — 4. The evidence of Julian of Eclanum and Augustine

The Libellus fidei attributed to Julian of Eclanum (PL 48, 525-6, written in 418 AD), in chapter 11 (18) contains a long quotation from the Sermo ad neophytos.  This is the title under which the third baptismal catechism was transmitted in Latin.  The eight baptismal catecheses were rediscovered by Wenger only in 1970.[1]

In 419, Augustine tells us in Contra Iulianum I 6:21 (PL 44, 654-5) that Julian of Eclanum made use of the same work by Chrysostom in Julian’s lost work, the Libri ad Turbantium.  The quotations given are not identical, but are the same length and, more importantly, come from the same source.  Neither is based on the Greek text, but rather on a Latin version, as Wenger has shown.

Augustine goes further.  Not merely does he mention the quotation; he refers to the Greek and shows where the Latin has undergone modification or is too free (PL 44, col. 655-6, 658).  However it has been shown that Augustine is not, in fact, showing knowledge of a Greek text, but instead using a revised Latin version.

In his Contra Iulianum, Augustine refers to a number of works by Chrysostom.

  1. Letter 3 (10) (Greek text in PG 52, 574).
  2. In resurrectionem Lazari.  (CPL 541;  latin text actually by Potamius of Lisbon, ed. Wilmart, 1918b, p.302, l. 88-90)
  3. In Genesim sermo 3 (Greek in PG 54, 592).
  4. In Epistula ad Romanos homilia 10 (Greek in PG 60, 475)
  5. In venerabilem crucem sermo (Ps. Chrysostom; original Greek in Browne, 1990, p.137, #20; PG 50, 820, l. 34-36).
  6. Homilia in sancta baptisma (actually by Basil of Caesarea).

Clearly Augustine is using an anthology or florilegium of testimonies here.  There’s no trace of a Greek original; indeed the second item is in fact an original composition in Latin misidentified as Chrysostom.  So here we have evidence of material in Latin again.

  1. [1]Antoine Wenger (ed.), Huit catecheses baptismales inedits, Sources Chretiennes 50 bis, Paris, 1970.

The early translations of Chrysostom into Latin — 3. Anianus of Celeda

In the next few years we have two groups of witnesses, distinct but related to the followers of Pelagius.[1] 

The first of this is someone about whom we would like to know more, starting with his exact name and place of origin: Anianus or Annianus, deacon from an unidentified place called Celeda.  Around 420 A.D. he made translations of two long works  by Chrysostom: the In Matthaeum homiliae 1-25 (cf. CPPC 4424), for which a date of 419-420 AD has been proposed; and the De laudibus s. Pauli apostoli 1-7 (cf. CPG 4344), in the following years but not before 421 A.D.

The translations are prefixed with dedicatory epistles.  In these Anianus shows that he regards Chrysostom as a powerful ally in the defence of the true faith against an opponent whom he characterises with the epithets “Manichaean” and “Traducian”.  We know that the Pelagians applied these words to Augustine.  This suggests that Anianus belongs to that group.

Pelagian he may be, but he seems to be an honest professional.  Although we await a critical edition, it does not seem that he has directed the translation in the service of the ongoing controversy.  But possibly he did not need to; for, as we have already seen, Chrysostom’s insistence on human initiative naturally gives his work a flavour which is to the taste of Pelagians.  If his “doctrinal” interventions are as Piedagnel reports[2], then it must be admitted that Anianus was a heretic of an extremely discreet kind.

NOTE: It would be interesting to know where the text of these translations might be found, and to look at these dedicatory epistles.

  1. [1]This also is taken from Voicu’s excellent article.  In this section I have followed his words more closely than elsewhere, because I am rather interested in Anianus myself. The references are from Voicu and have not been verified, as I have no access to them.
  2. [2]A. Piedagnel, Jean Chrysostome, Panégyriques de s. Paul … , Sources chretiennes 300, Paris 1982,  p. 98-99, n. 5.

The early translations of Chrysostom into Latin — 2. Pelagius and the first quotation

This continues my previous post, based on the article by Sever J. Voicu, which is too interesting to be left in Italian.

The first direct quotation of Chrysostom in Latin appears around 414 A.D.  Augustine tells us that Pelagius quotes Chrysostom by name (De natura et gratia 76 (64): Urba-Zycha 1913, p.291): 

Ioannes … dicit peccatum non esse substantiam, sed actum malignum … Et quia non est naturale, ideo contra illud legem datam, et quod de arbitrii libertate descendit.

The quotation is not from any work known today but the thought and phrasing are Chrysostomian, and we may believe that it comes from an authentic work.

It is possible that Pelagius quoted Chrysostom from the Greek.  However it seems that, despite his residence in the east, Pelagius was no master of Greek.  This would make this evidence of a translation of Chrysostom into Latin by this date.

The early translations of Chrysostom into Latin – 1. The first possible references

The first mention of Chrysostom’s works in Latin comes from a very early stage of his life, when he was still only a priest.[1]  In 392 Jerome mentions in his De viris illustribus ch. 129 that he has read De sacerdotio, or rather, as he states: Peri\ i(erwsu/nhj:

John, presbyter of the church at Antioch, a follower of Eusebius of Emesa and Diodorus, is said to have composed many books, but of these I have only read his On the priesthood.

In 404, in letter 112, 6,[2] Jerome lists Chrysostom as among the authors who have discussed the confrontation between Paul and Peter at Antioch over whether to obey the Mosaic law.  The reference is probably to the homily In illud: In faciem ei restiti (PG 51, 371-388, CPG 4391).  In addition the use by Jerome of other works has been hypothesised.

Jerome does not indicate whether he read Chrysostom in Greek or in some Latin version.  The use of the Greek title in the first case rather suggests Jerome read him in Greek.

Palladius, in his Dialogue on the life of Chrysostom, ch.12, gives the following words to the Roman deacon Theodore:

I knew the mind of the man from common report, and from those writings of his, homilies and letters, which have come into our hands.  

Whether a man like Theodore would have read Chrysostom in Greek may be questioned.

But there is no certainty of any Latin translation at this date.

  1. [1]All this material is derived from Sever J. Voicu, Le prime traduzioni latine di Crisostomo, In: “Cristianesimo latino e cultura greca. XXI Incontro di studiosi dell’antichità cristiana”, 1993, p.397-445.
  2. [2]Voicu references the Hilberg edition in CSEL, 1912, p.373.  See also Augustine, letter 75.

From my diary

News on the translation that I commissioned of the 4th century Acts of ps.Linus .  The second half arrived last night!  That’s the Passio Pauli portion.  I’ve reviewed it, and it seems very close to completion, bar a couple of sentences.  That’s good news, and it will be good to have that complete and paid for.

I was enquiring last week about ancient Latin translations of the homilies of John Chrysostom.  A kind correspondent sent me a copy of an article by Sever J. Voicu. [1]  This gives a very nice overview of the evidence, and is so good, in fact, that I have translated portions of it and might write a post to convey the highlights.

Last night I was discussing online with others like myself what might be done to restore some reliable information about Mithras to the web.  Some useful ideas emerged, and possibly a direction.

It was also suggested that I try using a CMS — Content Management System — such as Joomla.  I might experiment a bit with this.


  1. [1]Sever J. Voicu, Le prime traduzioni latine di Crisostomo, In: “Cristianesimo latino e cultura greca. XXI Incontro di studiosi dell’antichità cristiana”, 1993, p.397-445.

Life of Mar Aba – chapter 23

I’m still translating chapters of the 6th century Saint’s life of the East Syriac patriarch, Mar Aba.  And I’ve had a complaint!  Let me say that I’m doing this, not because these hagiographical texts from the ages of superstition are edifying — far from it, to me — but because this particular one contains valuable historical information about how the attitude to Christians in Persia changed in the late 6th century.

Unfortunately the work is studded with material whose historicity is doubtful, to say the least.  The next chapter is probably an example.  It reads like identikit hagiography to me.  The work of God in people’s lives is always wonderful to hear, but this material does not seem to tell of it; the focus in all this sort of writing is on how wonderful the human Mar Aba is, not on God.  

Oh well.  If there is more good stuff in this Life, we have to get to it past this sort of stuff.

23.  There was at that place a plague, and those who saw it trembled and those who heard about it were terrified.  The blessed one was asked to leave; but he would not, and said, “Death and life are in God’s hand; wherever I am, I am his in life and death.  It is necessary only that we believe in him and walk in good works according to his will.  Believe in him, and stay.”  And many remained and were not struck down by that harsh plague.  But if anyone was hit, he blessed oil and gave it, and they annointed him and, depending on his faith, he recovered from that disease.

A woman from that village, whose husband, named Arwândâd (?), was the judge, was tempted by the evil spirit.  She came and with her husband threw herself for a long time at the door of the blessed one, to  get him to come and put his hand on her head.  But he would not, but blessed oil and sent it to her.  She annointed herself and the devil departed from her and she was tempted no more.  All who knew her previously saw what had happened and praised God.