More on Zeno of Verona

The correspondent who first asked about Zeno of Verona (d. 371-2) has written explaining why he was looking for a translation:

I am presently researching and compiling early church commentary on 1 Tim 2:15-3-1a, and more precisely, trying to ascertain which interpreters ascribed either a typological or illustrative reference of Eve to the church, and/or which interpreters believed that 1 Tim 2:15 was a “faithful saying”.   As you are likely aware, this text has been a difficult one for interpreters.  I had come across a reference to St. Zeno (here) and I wanted to verify his quotation form the original source.

The reference is in A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature by David L. Jeffrey (Eerdmans, 1992), p.252, in the article on Eve, which fortunately appears in the Google Books preview.  The relevant portion reads as follows:

The NTs depiction of the Church as the bride of Christ, together with Paul’s parallel between “the first man Adam” and Christ “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), led to an explicit association in the writings of the Church Fathers between Eve, mother of the living, and “mother” church, mater ecclesia. Zeno of Verona declared that just as Eve was created from the side of Adam, so the Church was created from the side of Christ, from which flowed blood and water, figuring the martyrdom and baptism wherein the Church actually took its beginning. In this way, says Zeno. “Adam is restored through Christ, and Eve through the church” (PL 11.352). The same idea is expressed by St. Augustine: “Eva de latere dormientis, Ecclesia de latere patientis” (PL 37.1785) — “Eve from the side of the sleeping one, the Church from the side of the suffering one.” This parallel became commonplace in the Middle Ages …

The remark of Zeno is thankfully referenced to the Patrologia Latina, vol. 11, column 352, which is online.  The remark appears at the end of chapter 10 of Book 1, tractatus 13:

… ut legitime Adam per Christum, Eva per Ecclesiam renovarentur.

… so rightly Adam was restored through Christ, Eve through the Church.

The German translation of the whole chapter is here, and the Google translate version of it is here.


The homilies of Zeno of Verona

A correspondent wrote to ask about an English translation of the sermons of St. Zeno of Verona:

I am trying to find an English translation of St Zeno’s (of Verona) sermons.  In particular, I am looking for some typological comments he has said to have made on Eve and the church.

The name was unfamiliar to me, and is probably unfamiliar to us all, so I thought that a few notes might be generally helpful.[1]

A number of medieval manuscripts contain a collection of sermons in two books, ascribed to a certain Zeno of Verona.  The oldest of these mss. is 8th century.[2]  Book 1 contains 62 texts, and book 2 contains only 30.  Only about 30 of the homilies appear to be complete and revised, the remainder being outlines or fragments.  This suggests that the collection was not made by the author, but at some later date.

The texts make use of Hilary of Poitiers’ Commentary on the Psalms (A.D. 360), and so belong to the following period.  Jerome and Gennadius and the other biographers of the period do not mention Zeno, but Ambrose of Milan, around 380 mentions him as the recently deceased bishop of the city in a letter.[3]  There is mention of African writers, and the cult of an obscure Mauretanian saint, which has led to speculation that Zeno was of African origin.  There is, apparently, no real reason to dissent from the transmitted authorship.  He seems to have died around 371-2.

The majority of the homilies are exegetical, although some are moral in character.  The exegetical work is primarily around the Old Testament.

The editio princeps appeared in 1508. [4]

The text appears in PL 11, 253-528, and has been edited in the Corpus Christianorum series.[5]  No English translation seems to exist of any of this material, but a German translation appeared in the BKV series, and is online.[6]

He also refers to the kinds of casual paganism that Christians may encounter.[8]:

The following also displease God: those who run around tombs, who offer sacrificial meals to the stinking cadavers of the dead; those who out of love for overindulgence and drinking in disreputable places have suddenly produced martyrs for themselves [to celebrate boozily] through their wine-bottles and their cups; those who observe days; those who try to make ‘Egyptian’ [ill-omened] days out of favourable ones; those who try to find auguries and see their well-being / salvation in the violently torn-open stomachs of cattle.  (Sermon 1.25 (15).11)

This is little.  But surely someone could take the time and translate Zeno?

  1. [1]See J. Quasten, Patrology vol. 4, p.127-130, for more details.
  2. [2]A rather rubbishy list may be found on p.clxi of Giulari’s edition.
  3. [3]Letters I 5, 1.  The identification is made by Bigelmair in his Zeno von Verona, 1902, online here:
  4. [4]J. Giulari, S. Zenonis episcopi Veronensis sermones, Verona (1883). Online here:
  5. [5]B. Lofstedt, CCL 22 (1971).
  6. [7]
  7. [6]A. Bigelmair, BKV2 vol. 10, Munich, 1934.  Online here:[/ref]  I believe that an Italian translation may also exist.  Apparently the CCL text comments on the translations on p.55-59.

    Is Zeno interesting?  I can’t say that I know!  A web search unearths some interesting thoughts.

    In a sermon to new converts on baptism, he used astral themes.  He described Christ as our sun, the true sun, who once set and rose anew and will never set again, crowned with twelve rays, symbolising the twelve apostles.  Being asked about the horoscope of the new birth, he went through the zodiac, assigning a spiritual significance to each.[7]Stephen M. McCluskey, Astronomies and cultures in early medieval Europe, Cambridge, 2000, p.39.

  8. [8]Ken Dowden, European paganism, 2000, p.156