New texts of Origen : Lorenzo Perrone’s letter about the rediscovery of Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms
Bologna, the 10th of June 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
On the 21st of May, a day after the first severe earthquake since centuries began to shake my region, I was asked an expertise on a Greek manuscript of Munich.
Prof. Anna Meschini Pontani, from Padua University, informed me that Dr. Marina Molin Pradel, who is preparing the new catalogue of the Greek manuscripts of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, wished to submit to my attention a discovery she had made on Holy Thursday. While examining the content of Codex Monacensis Graecus 314 (11th-12th century), an anonymous collection of 29 homilies on the Psalms, she discovered that the manuscript included the Greek text of four of the five homilies of Origen on Psalm 36 (H36Ps I-IV). Moreover, she noticed that the list of the other homilies corresponded to a large extent to that presented by Jerome in his Letter 33 to Paula, the most important group being the series of nine homilies on Psalm 77.
I worked hastily in the following weeks to go through the considerable manuscript (371 folios) and check its content. More and more, albeit still provisionally, I have come to the conclusion that we have to do with a lot of lost homilies of Origen. My conviction is supported, among other things, by the exegetical treatment presented by the homilies, the doctrinal elements they preserve, the stylistic features which are typical of the great Alexandrian. In addition, some excerpts of these homilies were already known to us under his name in some catenae fragments edited in PG 17 and the Analecta Sacra of Pitra, especially with regard to Psalm 77.
Only a thorough examination of the texts transmitted by the Codex Monacensis Graecus 314 will permit to extend with reasonable certainty the attribution to Origen of all the remaining homilies or of part of them, besides the Homilies I-IV on Psalm 36.
I have already begun with the transcription of the manuscript and hope to complete it before the end of the summer, in order to make the texts accessible to scholars. Together with my colleagues Chiara Barilli, Antonio Cacciari and Emanuela Prinzivalli I plan to prepare without delay a critical edition of the homilies.
Marina Molin Pradel will present her discovery and offer some samples of the manuscript in the next issue of Adamantius, due to be published before the autumn.
A series of initiatives are planned to announce the discovery of the new texts to the scholarly world and to promote their knowledge and study.
On monday the 11th of June the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek will release a public statement about the discovery.
A seminar will take place at Padua University the 25th of June and a day-conference is planned for the 5th of December in Munich at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.
Together with the colleagues of the Italian Research Group on Origen and the Alexandrian Tradition we plan a conference in Bologna next February, exactly one year after the one devoted to the prospect of a new edition of Origen’s commentaries on the Psalms, in cooperation with the colleagues of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaft.
At the time we were submerged by the snow no less than by the uncomfortable impression of the heavy task still waiting the editors of the catenae fragments. Now, in the middle of renewed quakes, we have been given an unexpected gift that we would like to share with all those who love Origen.
The photographic reproduction of the entire codex is available HERE.