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

I’m still thinking about the sermons of the late 4th century church father John Chrysostom, the most important of the Greek fathers.  In particular I’m thinking about the one only extant in a short latin version, De recipiendo Serveriano, That Severian must be received, preached after his (temporary) reconciliation with Severian of Gabala.

I mentioned that his sermon De regressu, On his return from exile, existed in a short latin version, but that the full Greek text was retrieved by Wenger, who also printed a full ancient Latin version.  The latter came from a homiliary, a genre of text about which I know nothing, and about which a Google search at first sight tells me  nothing.

In the process, tho, I have come across a 9th century manuscript of the collection of 38 latin homilies!  It’s at St. Gall, Cod. 113.  The description is here:

  • S. 3363 Johannes Chrisostomus: 37 ächte oder untergeschobene Reden >Incipit liber omeliarum Johannis Chrisostomi< dazwischen S. 251 eine mit der Ueberschrift: Incipit Severiani epi. sermo de pace, gedr. in Petrus Chrysologus Venet. 1742 F. p. 178.
    • cf. Severiani Homiliae nunc primum editae Venet. 1827.
  • S. 363399 >Incipit de eo quod non laeditur homo nisi a semetipso.< Scio quod a crassioribus
  • S. 399460 >Incipit eiusdem s. Joannis de cordis compunctione liber primus< und liber secundus pag. 436. Anfang: Cum tantum intueor b. Demetri
  • S. 460530 >Inc. eiusdem de reparatione lapsi<

OK, so this is all Chrysostom material.  On folios 3-363 is the medieval collection.  On folio 251 there is the start of Severian’s reply On Peace, again in an abbreviated form.  On folio 248 is the start of De recipiendo Severiano.

These are the items printed by Migne.  So it is nice to see a medieval manuscript version of them, as Migne’s text is not necessarily that reliable!


The overwhelming quantity of John Chrysostom

It can be a shock, sometimes, to remember that not every writer is extant in a single manuscript.  That shock just hit me, when I decided, in a weak moment, that I would “just” have a quick search in the British Library Manuscripts catalogue for works by Chrysostom.

I’m looking for copies of the ancient Latin translation of De Severiano recipiendo, in truth.  But since I wasn’t specific, I got the lot.

Boy did I get a lot!  103 hits, to be precise.  Mostly homilies on scripture.

Mind you, the quality was rather low.  Arundel. 542 has a catalogue description which is plainly the result of uncorrected OCR.  I don’t mind; but I’d like to see the raw image!  On the other hand, someone has indexed the authors out of this mess with some skill and effort — well done!  The ms. also contains some homilies of Severian of Gabala at the end, it seems.

I drew blank, but it’s a reminder that finding stuff by Chrysostom in all this mass will not be easy.


Ps.Chrysostom on the Ascension

I’ve been sent a translation by KP of Ps.Chrysostom In Ascensionem 5 (PG 52:801-802), with notes and permission to put it online.  I do so gladly!

Sermo 5
Λόγος εʹ.
Homily 5
Adest dominicæ Assumptionis dies : ac licet multi jam concionem habuerint, nostram tamen tenuitatem ad concionandum pater cohortatur. Verum nobis e re videbatur esse infacundiæ nostræ velum silentii obtendere, et ignorantiæ magnitudinem occultare : quia vero una cum patre et cum supernis facultatibus vos auditores nos cohortamini, et jubetis ea persequi quæ olim David de Assumptione dominica exclamavit: Attollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini, portæ æternales, et introibit Rex gloriæ; age et nos ea quæ ad hanc diem pertinent, cum modulis celebremus.  Ἐπέστη τῆς Δεσποτικῆς ἀναλήψεως ἡ ἡμέρα· καὶ προσοδοιπορησάντων πολλῶν ὃν καὶ τὴν ἡμετέραν βραχύτητα πρὸς λόγους ὁ πατὴρ προετρέψατο. Καὶ δίκαιον ἡμῖν κατεφαίνετο, κάλυμμα τῆς βραχυλογίας τὴν σιωπὴν ἐπιφέρεσθαι, καὶ κρύπτειν τῆς ἀπαιδευσίας τὸ μέγεθος· ἐπειδὴ δὲ μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τῶν ἄνω δυνάμεων πρὸς λόγους τὸ πλῆθος προτρέπετε, καὶ λαλεῖν μετ’ αὐτῶν ἐγκελεύετε ἅπερ πάλαι καὶ Δαυῒδ περὶ τῆς ἀναλήψεως τῆς Δεσποτικῆς ἀνεβόησεν· Ἄρατε πύλας, οἱ ἄρχοντες, ὑμῶν, καὶ ἐπάρθητε, πύλαι αἰώνιοι, καὶ εἰσελεύσεται ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῆς δόξης· δεῦρο, σήμερον τὰ πρόσφορα τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ ἡμεῖς κελαδήσωμεν. The day of the Master’s ascension is upon us. Many have travelled here, and the Father has encouraged even him, who is ill-equipped to preach. Indeed, we were thinking it would be right to cover our ineloquence with a veil of silence, and hide the magnitude of our ignorance. But because you, along with the Father and the powers above, have been urging us to address you who have assembled here in such numbers, and with them, you request that we speak about that which David long ago exclaimed concerning the ascension of the Master—“Lift up your gates, O princes, and be lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in”—Come then, let us also celebrate the things pertaining to this day.
Hodie namque Dominus noster Christus ad paternum solium ascendit; hodie qui incarnatus est, cum Patre sedet, neque prius separatus ab illo, neque nunc primum cum illo sedere incipiens: semper enim in sinu Patris requiescit : solus Patrem comprehendens, et solus a Patre comprehensus : nam Ego, inquit,  in Patre, et Pater in me est : Verbum erat in Patre, et Verbum erat in terra. Neque descendens sinum paternum vacuum reliquit : neque in cælum ascendens, præsentia sua vacuam terram reliquit; sed et cum hominibus vesans, cum Patre sedebat, et cum Patre sedens ab hominibus non separabatur. Ecce enim, inquit, ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummation em sæculi. Hodi Dominus Christus ex hominibus in cælos assumitur ; non quemadmodum Enoch translatus, neque sicut Elias curru igneo in cælum vecius; sed assumitur, ut discipulis Spiritus sancti veirtutem mittat. Σήμερον γὰρ ὁ Δεσπότης ἡμῶν Χριστὸς πρὸς τὸν πατρῷον θρόνον ἀνέρχεται· σήμερον ὁ σωματωθεὶς τῷ Πατρὶ συγκαθέζεται, οὔτε πρότερον χωρισθεὶς, οὔτε νῦν ἐν πρώτοις αὐτῷ συγκαθήμενος· ἀεὶ γὰρ ἐν τοῖς κόλποις τοῦ Πατρὸς ἀναπαύεται· μόνος τὸν Πατέρα χωρῶν, καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ Πατρὸς μόνος χωρούμενος· Ἐγὼ γὰρ, φησὶν, ἐν τῷ Πατρὶ, καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί· καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἐν τῷ Πατρὶ, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἐν τῇ γῇ. Οὔτε δὲ κατελθὼν ὡς οὐδὲν τὸν πατρῷον κόλπον ἐκένωσεν· οὔτε εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἀνελθὼν, ἔρημον τὴν γῆν τῆς αὑτοῦ παρουσίας κατέλειπεν· ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις συναναστρεφόμενος, τῷ Πατρὶ συνεκάθητο, καὶ τῷ Πατρὶ συγκαθήμενος, ὑπάρχει τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀχώριστος. Ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἐγὼ, φησὶ, μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος. Σήμερον ὁ Δεσπότης Χριστὸς ἐκ τῶν ἀνθρώπων εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἀναφέρεται, οὐ κατὰ τὸν Ἐνὼχ μεθιστάμενος, οὐ κατὰ τὸν Ἠλίαν ἅρματι πυρὸς πρὸς οὐρανὸν ἀνερχόμενος· ἀλλ’ ἀναλαμβάνεται, ἵνα πέμψῃ τοῖς μαθηταῖς τὴν τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος δύναμιν. For today our Master Christ goes up to his father’s throne; today, he who was incarnated sits down with the Father; not that he was first separated from him, nor that he now sits with him for the first time, for he has always rested in the bosom of the Father, alone containing the Father, and alone contained by the Father. For “I”, he said, “am in the Father, and the Father in me”; and the Word is in the Father and the Word is on the earth. Not descending and leaving the Father’s bosom empty, nor ascending into heaven and leaving the earth empty of his presence; but both living together with men, and sitting together with the Father; and both sitting together with the Father, and not separated from men. For “be sure of this”, he says, “I am with you always, to the very the end of the age.” Today the Μaster Christ is taking himself away from men and into heaven; not being taken like Enoch, nor going up towards heaven in a fiery chariot like Elijah, but ascending <by his own power>, so that he may send the power of the Holy Spirit to his disciples.

Hujus Assumptionis gaudium cum David multis ante annis prospiceret, hæc præfatus est: Ascendit Deus in jubilo : qui Adamum ex puivere efformavit, qui Abelem justificavit, qui Enochum transtulit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Noe gubernavit, qui fidelem Abraham elegit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Isaac non immolatam hostiam accepit, qui Jacobum bendictionibus replevit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Jesephum errantem duxit, qui Jobi patientiam accepit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui gloria Moysem affecit, qui Aaroni summum sacerdotium dedit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Jesum Nave robravit, qui Samueli prophetiæ donum largitus est.  Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Davidem fortituden, Salomonem sapientia donavit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui prophetas inspiravit, et apostolis curationum donam largitus est. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui in cælis sine matre, in terra sine patre est. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, Patris ante sæcula proles matris germen non satum. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, vitæ largitor et mirabilium dispensator. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui mortem morte necavit, et genri hominum vitam largitus est. Ascendit Deus in jubilo : Dominus in voce tubæ.

Ipsi gloria in sæcula sæculorum. Amen

Ταύτης τῆς ἀναλήψεως τὴν χαρὰν πρὸ πολλῶν γενεῶν Δαυῒδ θεασάμενος, προανεφώνησε λέγων· Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἀδὰμ διαπλάσας ἐκ κόνεως, ὁ τὸν Ἄβελ δικαιώσας, καὶ τὸν Ἐνὼχ μεταθέμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Νῶε κυβερνήσας, καὶ πιστὸν τὸν Ἀβραὰμ ἐκλεξάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἰσαὰκ ἄθυτον θυσίαν δεξάμενος, καὶ τὸν Ἰακὼβ πληρώσας εὐλογιῶν. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ ὁδηγήσας πλανώμενον, καὶ τὴν ὑπομονὴν τοῦ Ἰὼβ προσδεξάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ δοξάσας τὸν Μωϋσῆν, καὶ τὴν ἀρχιερωσύνην τῷ Ἀαρῶνι χαρισάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἰησοῦν τὸν Ναυῆ ἐνισχύσας, καὶ τὸν προφήτην τῷ Σαμουὴλ δωρησάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Δαυῒδ δυναμώσας, καὶ τὸν Σολομῶντα σοφίσας. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τοὺς προφήτας ἐμπνεύσας, καὶ τοῖς ἀποστόλοις τὰς τῶν ἰαμάτων δωρεὰς χαρισάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ ἄνω ἀμήτωρ, καὶ κάτω ἀπάτωρ. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, τὸ τοῦ Πατρὸς προαιώνιον γέννημα, καὶ τῆς Παρθένου μητρὸς τὸ ἀφύτευτον βλάστημα. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τῆς ζωῆς χορηγὸς, καὶ τῶν παραδόξων διανομεύς. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τῷ θανάτῳ θανατώσας τὸν θάνατον, καὶ τῷ γένει τῶν ἀνθρώπων ζωὴν χαρισάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, Κύριος ἐν φωνῇ σάλπιγγος.

Αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

Having seen this joyous ascension many generations ago, David prophesied, saying: God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who fashioned Adam from dust, who justified Abel, and took Enoch. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who steered Noah, and elected Abraham faithful. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who accepted the sacrificeless sacrifice of Isaac, and blessed Jacob abundantly. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who lead Joseph to wander, and expected Job’s patient endurance. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who glorified Moses, and bestowed the high priesthood on Aaron. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who strengthened Jesus the son of Nun, and gave the gift of prophecy to Samuel. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who fortified David, and gave wisdom to Solomon. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who inspired the prophets, and gave gifts of healing to the apostles. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who is without mother above, and without father below. God has gone up with a joyous shout, the eternal offspring of the Father, and the unfathered descendant of the Virgin mother. God has gone up with a joyous shout, the giver of life, and the distributor of wonders. God has gone up with a joyous shout; he who by dying put death to death, and freely gave life to mankind. “God has gone up with a joyous shout; the Lord, with the sound of a trumpet!”

To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Background Notes

The only extant homily on the ascension which is genuinely from John Chrysostom is In ascensionem domini nostri Jesu Christi [1].

About a dozen other homilies on the ascension have been preserved under his name. One of these, Sermo in Sanctam Assumptionem Servatoris Nostri,[2] has also been assigned to Eusebius of Alexandria.[3] Two others published by F.C. Baur are believed to be Nestorian.[4] Baur thinks one is from the hand of Nestorius himself. In amongst the remainder is a series of five anonymous short homilies on the ascension.[5]  The fifth homily, titled In Ascensionem 5 for convenience, is the shortest of that series.

Date, author, provenance

Unknown. The setting is obviously liturgical: the homily was written for, or delivered on ἡμέρα ἀνάληψις the day of the analepsis or taking up, that is, Ascension Day. As the Ascension Day feast was first mentioned in extant literature around the end of the fourth century (see Appendix), the sermon is unlikely to be earlier than than very late fourth century. Given the ‘Byzantine’ outlook it conveys (heavenly beings particpating in liturgy, use of ‘today’), it is likely to be much later.  The homily of course, may have been copied or compiled from another source, perhaps more than one, with the author adding their own remarks.


I haven’t investigated.

Text and translations.

Given by both Savile and Montfaucon in their editions of Chrysostom’s works. Savile of course, did not provide any translations. Montfaucon provided a Latin translation for this particular sermon in Gaume’s edition. Migne prints Montfaucon’s Greek text and gives a Latin translation. [6] The sermon’s editor in Migne calls it “inepti Graeculi opus.”

Modern translations

Not investigated thoroughly but none found to date—it doesn’t seem to be in Bareille’s French edition of Chrysostom?


The fourth homily in this series gets an occasional mention. Davies mentions this fifth homily briefly in his 1958 Bampton Lectures but otherwise, this series and especially this homily are ignored because they provide “nothing new”.  A Byzantine would be proud to hear that.

[1] PG 50:441-52.
[2] PG 64:45-48
[3] PG 86:422
[4] F.C. Baur, Traditio IX, 1953:101–126. Cf. also H.F. Stander Acta Patristica et Byzantina 6, 1995:130-46; and 7, 1996: 105-116
[5] PG 52:791-802
[6] PG 52:801-802


Chub’s preface to Methodius now online

I’ve been translating from Russian the preface to a group of works by Methodius, as I mentioned here.  It’s no work of scholarship, but the end product, from some Google Translate and the kind help of Maureen in the comments, is now online here:

It’s public domain as usual: do whatever you wish with it.

Someone has just emailed me to ask where they can find the Eight Homilies against the Jews by John Chrysostom.  For years these have lived at a Fordham University page, but today I find them gone.  The archiver gives June 2011 as the last version.  It’s probably just a glitch; but if not, I shall have to consider including them in my own collection.

UPDATE: It seems to be a great day for stuff to vanish from the web.  The Cyprian Project lists of PG and PL volumes also seem to have gone.