The ‘genuine’ Ephraim Latinus : a survey

There are a number of texts in the medieval Latin manuscripts which the copyist attributes to “Effrem” etc.  The Clavis Patrum Latinorum divides these into two groups; “Ephraem Latinus” and “Pseudo-Ephraem Latinus”.

Neither has any connection with Ephraem the Syrian, of course.  The “genuine” Ephraim Latinus consists of texts which are translations into Latin of texts in the “Ephraim Graecus” collection. The pseudo-Ephraim Latinus texts are Latin original compositions, although they may also draw on the Greek materials.

Here I want to talk about Ephraim Latinus. This also falls into two groups; a collection of 7 sermons, and a couple of other texts.

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In the medieval Latin manuscripts, we find a small collection of sermons attributed to “Ephraem Diaconus Edesseni”, i.e. Ephraim the deacon, of Edessa. This is identified in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum as CPL 1143.

The sermons are all translations from Greek. (Note that in Assemani’s mess of a Greek edition, there are doublets – texts that appear more than once, in a longer and shorter form.)

The Monastic Manuscript Project has a page for each work, with massive lists of manuscripts (some online) and bibliography, which it would be silly for me to attempt to duplicate.  So I provide links:

  • i. De die iudicii et de resurrectione. (Cf. CPG 4080)  MMP page.
  • ii. De beatitudine animae. (cf. CPG 3935, 2a)  MMP page.
  • iii. De patientia, sometimes De paenitentia (cf. CPG 3915) MMP page.
  • iv. In luctaminibus. (CPG 3920; 3935, 2b ; 4002; 4081)  MMP page
  • v. De die iudicii. (CPG 3940, 4089)  MMP page.
  • vi. De compunctione cordis. (CPG 3909, 3968).  This is in fact two texts rolled up under the title of the second.  The first is actually “Institutio data ad monachos”.  MMP page.


See: A. Siegmund, Die Uberlieferung der griechischen christlichen Literatur in der lateinischen Kirche bis zum zwolften Jahrhundert, Munich, 1949. P.67-71. (Not available to me)

In Hemmerginer-Iliadou col. 816, we get this list of manuscripts of the collection.

  • Ms. Vatican lat. 671.  Online here.
  • Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Ms. theol. lat. fol. 355 (once 307) 9th c.
  • Laon (Laudunensis), Ms. 121. 9th c.
  • St Omer (Audomarensis) 33bis 8th c.  Online here.
  • Paris Lat. 12634. 7-8th c. De compunctione is split into two, the first called Institutio data ad monachos.
  • The most ancient witness to this book 1 seems to be a dismembered ms of the second half of the 7th c., forming guard-leaves for Paris lat. 10399 and Ambianensis 12.

Here are a few manuscripts, found online, more or less at random.

  • BSB Clm 14364 (9th c.) ff.7r-87r contains the full set; De iudicio domini et resurrectione, de regno caelorum et munditia animae; De Beatitudine animae; De paenitentia; De luctaminibus; De die iudicii; De compunctione cordis.
  • Ms. Bodleian 63 (link only to catalogue) contains them.
  • BSB Clm 3516 (9th c.) contains the Sermo in Joseph (see below).
  • BSB Clm 18583 (11th c.). Microfilm. “Liber de conflictu vitiorum et virtutum ,Apostolica vox clamat'”
  • Assemani used Ms. Vatican 5051, fol. 90 f. and a “Cod. Casanatensis”, i.e. from the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome.

Here is the opening folio of BSB Clm 14364:

Editions and Translations

  • Kilian Fischer (= Piscator), Libri sancti Effrem de compunctatione cordis, Iudicio dei, Beatitudine anime, Penitentia, Luctamine spiritali, Die iudicii, Fribourg-en-Brisgau before 1493. The
  • These correspond to sermons 5, 6, 1-2, 4, 3 and 7 above.
  • English translation of De paenitentia by T.S.Pattie, “Ephraem the Syrian and the Latin manuscripts of De Paenitentia”, in: British Library Journal 13 (1987), p.1-24.  Online here.
  • French translation: Le Livre de la compunction du cueur, entre les aultres devot et proffitable, Paris : Michel le Noir, 1501. [ Biblio here]
  • S. Assemani vol. 3, 553-560 and 579-581 (PDF p.629-636; 654-657 ) Note that the incipit of the last work is different, owing to lacunae in the manuscripts that he used.


  1. Hemmerdinger-Iliadou, DSp. IV, col. 815 f.

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A further two sermons also seem ‘genuine’ – i.e. translated from Greek – but were assigned no numbers by the CPL:

  • Sermo in pulcherimum Ioseph. Incipit: “Deus Abraham, Deus Isaac, Deus Iacob, benedicte Deus » (CPG 3938).  Published by Laurent Bailly, “ Une traduction latine d’un sermon d’Ephrem dans le Clm 3516”, in : Sacris Erudiri 21 (NOT 20 as per CPL) (1972-3) p.71-80. First page here. The sermon corresponds to Assemani vol. 2, p.21-29c. Clm = Codex latinus monacensis.  There is a translation of the Greek by Ephrem Lash.
  • De sermone adversus improbas mulieris de decollatione Sancti Ioannis Baptistae. Inc: “Heu me, quid agam? Unde sermonis exordium” ( = CPG 4001). Cf. CPL 931, 935. = CPL 931, ps.Chrysostom Sermo de decollatione Sancti Ioannis Baptistae. Printed in PL 95 : 1508-1514. CPL 935 is also referenced, for no obvious reason. Found in ms 238, fol. 1. according to the Eichstatt catalogue.

That’s what I have!  It would be good to transcribe the Latin texts, say from Assemani for most of them, and direct from manuscript for De compunctione.  Sadly I lack the time to do this at the moment.


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