The Pseudo-Chrysostomica database is now online

Back in 2017 a project began (see a copy of the announcement here) to create a database of all the texts which in the manuscripts are wrongly attributed to John Chrysostom.  This is a very large number of texts – more than a thousand -, mainly Greek but also in Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Coptic, Georgian and many other languages.  In the medieval period ancient works that had no known author quite often ended up attributed to the main Greek Father, John Chrysostom.

So this deposit of material contains many things, often of great interest, and there are many texts by many authors.  Nearly all the works of Chrysostom’s enemy, Severian of Gabala, ended up as pseudo-Chrystostomica, for instance.

The  project is led by Sever J. Voicu, the expert on all things pseudo-Chrysostomian, who is based in the Vatican.

Today I received an email from him:

Dear colleagues and friends:

The Pseudo-Chrysostomica database is now online at:

The site is under construction. Suggestions welcome. Please write to: [email address]


I won’t put the email here, in these days of spam-spam-spam, but there is a contact link on the website.

This is very welcome news indeed.  At the moment the data contained in it is limited, but it is still good.  The more information that can be loaded into this, the better.  I don’t know what the plans for enhancement are.

Anyway, I thought that I would try it out!  This is not any kind of comprehensive test – just me doing a quick push of a few buttons!

I set Author=Severian, and searched.  The website gave:

The following authors matched your search query:

Severian of Gabala

And below that, some more material which I will talk about in a moment.

The “Severian of Gabala” link itself was of the form   It would be better if the author key was a unique meaningful string like author=SeverianOfGabala rather than a “magic number” like “7” – possibly an automated row ID in the database, and therefore subject to change if the database is unloaded and reloaded?

Clicking on it gives a very satisfactory list of works and links:

The authorities are linked to, and you can get a very good idea of what is available.  I deeply approve.

But I nearly didn’t find any of this.  If you don’t click on that link – perhaps because, like me, you don’t realise that it is a link – and just scroll down, then you get an interesting but unusual search using pie charts:

A table of works by Severian appears.  I initially assumed that this was the result of my query, not the link above.  But it seems to be a very abbreviated list, if you look at it in Chrome on a PC, as I did.  It did not contain De Pace, for instance.  This I found very misleading before I discovered that I could click on “Severian of Gabala”.  I have only discovered, as I type, that in fact this is a scrollable box!  I think the scroll bar needs to be wider.

Moving on, I clicked on the first link in the table, which led to a page with the various language versions of “Quomodo animam…”.  Clicking on the Greek gave me some brief but useful information.  The publication of the Greek was given as “Savile”, but this name is not hyperlinked to anything.  I suppose most people getting this far will know about the Savile edition of Chrysostom’s works. The bibliography is at the moment in a PDF, which is fine for now.

The Slavic version of the same work had:

  • Publication: \\Makarij, Nov.

which looks like a formatting error of some sort, and no doubt will be fixed quickly.  (I bet the developers hate me already!  But any fresh pair of eyes will find something – that’s just how life is)

I looked at the material for De pace (here).  This gives Greek and Georgian language versions, and referenced to the sources for the text; although I seem to remember that the Patrologia Graeca also contains an abbreviated Latin translation?  I was actually rather excited to learn about the Georgian version!  Someone with Georgian skills needs to add stuff to that page – it cries out for additions!

And that, in truth, is part of the merit of such a database.  We can see what we cannot see.  In fact it makes your fingertips itch, to add stuff.  Which is what it is all about.

Recommended.  I must add it to my links!


Fun with footnotes – the Laudatio Apostolorum of ps.Chrysostom

I do enjoy looking into footnotes.  I’ve been looking into another couple on a passage in Dirk Rohmann’s book, which we encountered a few days ago.  (I’m ignoring footnotes that I’m not looking at; but giving the context).

In John [Chrysostom]’s metaphorical words, the apostles have “gagged the tongues of the philosophers and stitched shut the mouths of the rhetoricians.” This passage echoes a similar statement in an unpublished manuscript (attributed to John) which asserts that “the senate decrees have been overthrown, the philosophers and orators have been put to shame, and the Areopagus has been wiped out.”[12] This statement could be right because it is attested that in the last quarter of the fourth century large private mansions were constructed on the Areopagus hill, traditionally a place that housed archives.

[12] Voicu (1997), 515: “Senatsbeschlüsse sind von den Aposteln umgestürzt, Philosophen u. Redner  beschämt u. der Areopag vernichtet worden”, referring to the unpublished manuscript Cod. Vat.  Gr. 455 fol. 119v. (Voicu, Sever J. 1997. “Johannes Chrysostomus II (Pseudo-Chrysostomica).” RAC 18:503–15)

Mmmm… unpublished manuscripts!!!

…the senate decrees have been overthrown, the philosophers and orators have been put to shame, and the Areopagus has been wiped out…

That does sound rather interesting.  I wondered what the context is?  What is this “unpublished manuscript”?  So… I thought I’d see what I could find!

The RAC seems to be the Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum which no normal person has access to.  It’s not accessible online.  That’s annoying.  Presumably nobody ever looks at it.

My next thought was that perhaps the manuscript itself was online?  Maybe I could take a look at it?  Maybe get a text transcribed, or translated?  After all, 15,000 Vatican manuscripts are now online.  But unfortunately this is not one of them.  Okay…

But surely the Pinakes database, maintained by the IRHT, will list the manuscript and it’s contents?  Well indeed they do!  The entry is here.  The manuscript appears to be a Byzantine homiliary, of the 10th century, and the passage comes from a very short work (folios 118v-120v), entitled Laudatio SS Apostolorum (= Praise of the holy apostles), CPG 4970 (BHG 0160i), incipit Οἱ πρὸ τῆς κλήσεως ἁλιεῖς καὶ μετὰ τὴν κλῆσιν πάλιν ἁλιεῖς, and ending ὅτι ἔδει ἐξ ὕψους μεγάλαις ταῖς πτέρυξιν ἐφιπτάμενον τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα φίλους θεοῦ καὶ προφήτας κατασκευάζειν… ἀμήν.  Three manuscripts are listed – Thank heavens for the thoroughness of the IRHT cataloguers!  The CPG entry tells us no more; a couple of items of inaccessible bibliography are listed by the BHG.  A google search reveals another article by Sever J. Voicu, likewise inaccessible.[1]  I infer that the work does indeed have some interesting features!

We can do nothing with this work at the moment.  It’s quite unusual, these days, that I can’t find some kind of access online to some of this stuff.  But of course this was once normal.  It’s a reminder of what is still offline.

But once the manuscript comes online at the Vatican site, I must have a look.  If the manuscript is legible – and Greek manuscripts tend to be heavily abbreviated – then I might try to get a transcription made; and then a translation.  It might be fun!

There is nothing we can do at the moment, however.  Nice footnote, to nice stuff.

  1. [1]S.J.Voicu, “Echi costantinopolitani di sant’Ireneo. Note su una pseudocrisostomica «Laudatio apostolorum» (CPG 4970)”, in Ultra Terminum Vagari. Scritti in onore di Carl Nylander, a cura di B. Magnusson, S. Renzetti, P. Vian & S.J. Voicu, Roma: Edizioni Quasar. Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica, 1997, 357-366.