Category Archives: Varia

JOB OPENING GHENT (BELGIUM): Phd fellowship in (BYZANTINE) GREEK literature

JOB OPENING GHENT (BELGIUM): Phd fellowship in (BYZANTINE) GREEK literature

The Greek Section of the Department of Literary Studies at Ghent University (Belgium) is seeking a PhD candidate (full-time, fully-funded), to work on a research project investigating the reception of the Psalms as poetry in Byzantine literature. The successful candidate will prepare a dissertation under the supervision of prof. Floris Bernard and dr. Rachele Ricceri (Ghent) and prof. Reinhart Ceulemans (Leuven).

A full version of the job description is to be found here:

Applications should include a curriculum vitae (including accurate information on grades and study results) and a cover letter. Two reference letters. Applications must be sent electronically (preferably as one pdf) to to prof. Floris Bernard (, prof. Reinhart Ceulemans (, and dr. Rachele Ricceri (, no later than June 10, 2018. Referees must send their letter directly to the same addresses (letters are not to be sent by the applicant); the same deadline applies.

Landmark book published on New Testament commentaries


CCBT-frontcover349x499A new book devoted to early New Testament commentaries and their significance for the biblical text has been produced by members of the COMPAUL project at ITSEE and an international team of scholars.

Since 2011, the European Research Council-funded COMPAUL project at ITSEE, led by Dr Hugh Houghton, has been examining commentaries on the Pauline Epistles as sources for the early history of the biblical text. One of the major outputs from the project is a new volume of original research shedding new light on the composition, transmission and significance of these writings.

Even though one in ten surviving manuscripts of the Greek New Testament are commentaries in the format known as ‘catenae’, these have long suffered from neglect by scholars of the biblical text, due in part to the volume and complexity of the textual tradition as well as the presentation of the manuscripts themselves. This new book brings together many of the findings of the COMPAUL project, along with contributions from a distinguished group of European researchers also at work in this field.

The collection includes the first general introduction to Greek New Testament catenae and commentaries, as well as cutting-edge work on individual authors and linguistic traditions. Particular attention is paid to the layout of commentary manuscripts and the sources used by commentators, including the re-use of earlier works by later writers. In addition to the principal Greek and Latin commentators, such as Origen, John Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ambrose and Rufinus, there are also chapters on the Gothic commentary on the Gospel according to John, the re-use of Augustine’s commentaries by Florus of Lyons in the ninth century, and the first attempt to produce a systematic catalogue of Bohairic Coptic and Ethiopic catena manuscripts.

One of the highlights of the volume is its groundbreaking list of Greek New Testament catena manuscripts. In addition to the 526 catenae currently contained in the official Liste of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, Professor David Parker has identified an additional 100 manuscripts not included in this index. In total, the fourteen chapters of this book refer to more than 800 manuscripts, extending from the great research libraries of northern Europe to private collections in Ethiopia. This extensive engagement with the surviving evidence lays the foundations for further scholarship.

Many of the chapters in the book were initially presented at the Ninth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament in March 2015. Delegates from no fewer than twelve countries gathered in Birmingham to hear papers by project members, invited experts from across the world, and other scholars engaged in research across a broad spectrum of languages and centuries.

The book is published by Gorgias Press in the Texts and Studies series. The hardback edition is available for $95. In addition, through the generosity of the European Research Council, the full text of the volume is available free of charge in the Gorgias Press online repository.

Dr Houghton, who edited the volume, said:

“I am delighted that the COMPAUL project has borne fruit in this varied and stimulating collection of papers. My hope is that this book will inspire further work on commentaries and enable a better understanding of their complex traditions. I’m also particularly pleased that it has been possible to make the electronic version available as open access, so that anyone who is interested can download it for free.”

The list of chapters is as follows:

1. An Introduction to Greek New Testament Commentaries with a Preliminary Checklist of New Testament Catena Manuscripts (H.A.G. Houghton & D.C. Parker)
2. The Context of Commentary: Non-Biblical Commentary in the Early Christian Period (R.F. MacLachlan)
3. Biblical Catenae: Between Philology and History (Gilles Dorival)
4. Catenae and the Art of Memory (William Lamb)
5. Parsing Paul: Layout and Sampling Divisions in Pauline Commentaries (Bruce Morrill & John Gram)
6. Resurrection Appearences in the Pauline Catenae (Theodora Panella)
7. The Reception of Scripture and Exegetical Resources in the Scholia in Apocalypsin (GA 2351) (Garrick V. Allen)
8. Theodoret’s Text of Romans (Agnes Lorrain)
9. Bethania, Bethara, or Bethabara: Fortunatianus of Aquileia and Origen’s Commentary on John, with particular reference to John 1:28 (Lukas J. Dorfbauer)
10. Ambrose the Appropriator: Borrowed Texts in a New Context in the Commentary on Luke (Susan B. Griffith)
11. Rufinus’ Translation of Origen’s Commentary on Romans: Christina M. Kreinecker)
12. The Transmission of Florus of Lyon’s Expositio epistolarum beati Pauli apostoli. State of the Art and New Results (Shari Boodts & Gert Partoens)
13. Biblical Quotations in the Gothic Commentary on the Gospel of John (Skeireins) (Carla Falluomini)
14. An Overview of Research on Bohairic Catena Manuscripts on the Gospels with a Grouping of Arabic and Ethiopic (Ge’ez) Sources and a Checklist of Manuscripts (Matthias Schulz)

Call for Contribution: Special Issue on Computer-Aided Processing of Intertextuality in Ancient Languages


Europe’s future is digital”. This was the headline of a speech given at the Hannover exhibition in April 2015 by Günther Oettinger, EU-Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. While businesses and industries have already made major advances in digital ecosystems, the digital transformation of texts stretching over a period of more than two millennia is far from complete. On the one hand, mass digitisation leads to an „information overload“ of digitally available data; on the other, the “information poverty” embodied by the loss of books and the fragmentary state of ancient texts form an incomplete and biased view of our past. In a digital ecosystem, this coexistence of data overload and poverty adds considerable complexity to scholarly research.

With this special issue on Computer-Aided Processing of Intertextuality in Ancient Languages, the HiSoMA lab in Lyon, France, and the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities Germany, aim to create a collection of papers that discuss the state-of-the-art on intertextuality, linguistic preprocessing and the preservation of scholarly research results specifically applied to corpora in ancient languages and for which few online resources exist (Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, Arabic, Ethiopic, etc.).

Relevant topics include:

  • Methods for the detection of intertexts and text reuse, manual (e.g. crowd-sourcing) or automatic (e.g. algorithms);
  • Infrastructure for the preservation of digital texts and quotations between different text passages;
  • Linguistic preprocessing and data normalisation, such as lemmatisation of historical languages, root stemming, normalisation of variants, etc.;
  • Visualisation of intertextuality and text reuse;
  • Creation of, and research on, stemmata.

The special issue will be published by the Journal on Data Mining and Digital Humanities (, an online open access journal that will release the issue shortly after its submission in order to elicit feedback from readers while concurrently supervising the standard peer review process.

Interested authors are asked to:

1) send a title, an author list and a one page (or shorter) abstract specifying the type of contribution (full paper or project presentation) to

Laurence Mellerin: laurence.mellerin(at)mom(dot)fr AND

Marco Büchler: mbuechler(at)gcdh(dot)de

by October 31st.

2) send a paper (long: up to 40 pages OR short: 2 to 4 pages illustrating the scope and research of the project), following the guidelines of JDMDH, which can be found at

by January 31st 2016.

For further questions, do not hesitate to contact Laurence and Marco.

Did John Chrysostom Quote the Book of Revelation?

One of the main interests of Biblindex concerns the « canon » of the Bible and especially the way the Fathers actually used the books, be them canonical or not. In any case one can try to look at John Chrysostom about a book that is meant to be absent by the Antiochian authors: the Revelation of John.

Relied on the biblical index of the Latin translation in Montfaucon’s edition[1], Ch. Baur’s conclusions[2], supplemented by those of R. E. Carter[3], confirmed that the Antiochian canon observed by John Golden Mouth did not include the Revelation. Biblindex datas, made from the work of the CADP, might allow us to balance these conclusions.

Before that, one should consult the Chrysostom’s Scripture Index compiled by R. A. Krupp[4]. Out of the 9 references to Revelation he found[5], only one is to be taken into account : « The angels, writes the Antiochian while he comments on the « belt of truth » (Eph. 6:14), appear to us girded, for they are soldiers ; once one is girded, one stands firm[6] » ; and the only biblical instance where angels are girded seems to be Rev. 15:6 : οἱ ἄγγελοι… περιεζωσμένοι. The image, however, is too trivial in this case to prove anything.

Let’s turn now to the 11 references to the Revelation given by Biblindex: if we exclude questionable instances[7], 5 of them are still valid, which may be reduced to 3. The « second death » (ὁ δεύτερος θάνατος, Rev. 2:11 ; 20:6.14 ; 21:8) is not verbatim in the Treatise to Theodore, 11, but the idea is: « One should not fear the Devil, or the pitfalls of Demons, or Gehenna, or death, that of the present time or the other death which is much more terrible[8] » – and much more clearly than in Matth. 10:28. In the homily 49, 3 On John, the mention of Satan as a « snake » and as a « dragon[9] » might refer to Is. 27:1 (δράκοντα ὄφιν, i.e. the Leviathan), but Rev. 12:9 (ὁ δράκων ὁ μέγας, ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος) is a much better reference. The most important case is at the beginning of the third book Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae[10], where the wide scene of Judgment Day owes much to the « little apocalypse » in Matthew and to Dan. 7:9-10 – that Chrysostom often cites –, but perhaps to some passages of the Revelation as well. In the following table, one will find the references probably coming from other books than Revelation (bold), those that might be from Revelation (underlined) and the ambiguous ones (without any formatting):

Table of Revelation

If we exclude the five ambiguous cases, there still are three disturbing instances: the trumpets in the plural in an apocalyptic context, the angels sent around the world, the armies of angels alongside the judge, all those elements seem to correspond to the Revelation. The book, of course, is not explicitly mentioned, and it is not impossible that Chrysostom had in mind some iconographic representations of angels, of soldiers, of eschatological scenes, or – but this is unlikely – other non-canonical apocalyptic books. Nevertheless, the mere use of popular imagery, to which the Johannine Book of Revelation would contribute, even from some distance, would not be enough to explain the accuracy of certain elements. The book, in any case, should be part not only of the culture of Chrysostom, but also of that of his listeners. So one can wonder to what extent, even though it wasn’t included in the volumes that used to be the current bible books of Antiochians, it circulated anyway.

Although the presence of references does not imply that a book is a canonical one – the Revelation certainly was not, at least at the first degree –, it still shows it was in use in one way or another. If Revelation can really be found by John Chrysostom – the instances above might not give enough evidence  of it –, this would mean that in practice the Book of Revelation would have belonged to a second degree of the canon.

[1] B. de Montfaucon, S. P. N. Joannis Chrysostomi archiespiscopi Constantinopolitani opera omnia quæ exstant, t. 13, Paris, 1738, index locum scripturae sacrae, p. i-lj (at the end of the volume).

[2] Ch. Baur, « Der Kanon des hl. Joh. Chrysostomus », Theologische Quartalschrift 105, 1924, p. 258-271.

[3] R. E. Carter, « The Antiochene Biblical Canon 400 A.D. », Orientalia Christiana Periodica 72, 2006, p. 417-431.

[4] R. A. Krupp, Saint John Chrysostom. A Scripture Index, Lanham – New York – London, 1984.

[5] Ibid, p. 253.

[6] Hom. 23 On Eph., 2, PG 62, 166 : Οἱ ἄγγελοι ἡμῖν ἐζωσμένοι φαίνονται, ἅτε στρατιῶται ὄντες. Ἀπὸ τοῦ περιζώσασθαι, τὸ στῆναι γίνεται γενναίως.

[7] Rev. 4:5 et 14:4 in Comment observer la virginité, 9, ed. J. Dumortier, CUF, Paris, 1955, p. 125 and 127, without any textual contact (as far as φῶς ἀπρόσιτον is concerned, p. 125, Rev. 21:10-11 is much less relevant than 1 Tim. 6:16) ; the book that tastes like honey (Rev. 10:10), PG 55,183.43, is only a parallel to Ez. 3:3, explicitly quoted, and the new skies and the new earth (Is. 65:17) are explicitly quoted in PG 60, 157.24 and 63, 114.18 as well, so that there is  no need to refer to Rev. 21:1.

[8] Οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκεῖ διάϐολον δεῖσαι καὶ δαιμόνων ἐπιϐουλάς, οὐ γεέννης ἀπειλήν, οὐ θάνατον, οὐ τοῦτον τὸν νῦν, οὐ τὸν πολλῷ τούτου χαλεπώτερον ἐκεῖνον : ed. J. Dumortier, SC 117, Paris, 1966, p. 138-139.

[9] Οὗτος καὶ ὄφις καὶ δράκων ἐστι, PG 59, 326.22.

[10] John Chrysostom, Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae, III, 1, PG 47, 349-350.

New Ways of Searching with Biblindex: some statistical results

Excerpts from the post-refereed, pre-print version of the following article:

Mellerin, L., New Ways of Searching with Biblindex, the online Index of Biblical Quotations in Early Christian Literature, chapter 11, in Claire Clivaz, Andrew Gregory, David Hamidovic (eds.), Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish and Early Christian Studies, Brill, Leiden 2013, p. 175-192.

Examples of research results which may be obtained with Biblindex.

1. The utility of BIBLINDEX for biblical scholars

1.1. Studying the constitution and history of the canon

Because of the accuracy of its data, BIBLINDEX will make it easier to see
and compare the pre-canonical forms of the Scriptures. Ancient Christianity
did not know a global definitive list of books, and even less a list of
editions or authorized versions. BIBLINDEX can throw light on the spread
of biblical writings in such or such a part of the world to such or such a
period, and thereby highlight the synchronic and diachronic dimensions
of the texts’ transmission.
For instance, the Book of Ruth has always been known as canonical,
but was not very often quoted, and not everywhere. BIBLINDEX shows
that it was used since the third century in Alexandria and Caesarea. The
Antiochene Fathers seem not to refer to it as a canonical work before the
fifth century, when Theodoret of Cyrrhus writes his Commentary on
Ruth. Researchers might have believed that it was excluded from the
canon until four quotations of it were discovered in a work of John
Chrysostom, his Commentary on Matthew, whose authenticity was absolutely
proved. This simple fact is evidence of its inclusion.

Use of the book of Ruth

Another example shows that using BIBLINDEX may open new research
fields. Why do these Antiochene Fathers so rarely quote the Book of
Ecclesiastes, whereas in Alexandria there are hundreds of references?
The three books attributed to Solomon, Proverbs-Song of Solomon-
Ecclesiastes, were not used very much in this area, but the references to
Ecclesiastes are at a particularly low level.

Use of the book of Ruth

1.2. Studying biblical Apocrypha

BIBLINDEX has established the following principle: from the moment we
know that a text was considered biblical by a Church Father at a given
time, the statement of its occurrences in BIBLINDEX is relevant. Our compilation
of biblical referencing systems will therefore include all possible
books quoted in a specific language.
It will thus be easier to study the survival and the diffusion of apocryphal
texts, today lost, such as the books of Pseudo-Ezekiel. If we search
for quotations of Ezekiel 37:7 in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa or Epiphanius
of Salamis, we read a phrase, ‘bone with bone and joint to joint’ (ὀστέον πρὸς ὀστέον καὶ ἁπμονία πρὸς ἁπμονίαν.),
which does not entirely match the well-known Hebraic text: ‘and the
bones came together, bone to its bone’. Besides, these quotations more
closely match a text from the first century before the Christian era, found
in Hebrew in the Dead Sea Scrolls and called Pseudo-Ezekiel. In this
way we can demonstrate that Epiphanius, at the end of the fourth century,
still knew this text and that he probably read it in Greek, just as
Gregory of Nyssa did. So there was a Greek translation of it (See Vianès, L., ‘Vers un texte grec du Pseudo-Ézéchiel? La vision des ossements desséchés’,
in L’Antiquité en ses confins. Mélanges offerts à Benoît Gain. Hors série 16 de Recherches
et Travaux (Grenoble: Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3, 2008), 163–175).
More generally, the influences and the geography of the history of
ideas are better known, in qualitative terms – thanks to the text of the
quotations – as well as in quantitative terms – according to the number of

1.3. The textual criticism of the Bible

And finally, when our textual phase is completed, BIBLINDEX will become
a great tool for the textual criticism of the Bible. The comparative
search for the quotations of the Fathers, often rich in variants and unexpected
readings compared with earlier or modern standard texts, can
contribute to the reconstruction of the original text. Indeed, even though
passed on by late witnesses, quotations found in authors older than most
of the preserved biblical manuscripts allow us to go further back into the
history of the biblical texts.

2. The utility of BIBLINDEX for patristics scholars

The data have to be improved and checked and the corpus has to be enlarged,
but some results can already be obtained. The main fact of bringing
together so much data highlights global patterns of which we were
not necessarily aware before this data was collected. In this paper a total
of some 500,000 references, in texts from the first six centuries, are taken
into account.

2.1. The most quoted texts

48% of the quotations refer to the Old Testament and 52% to the New
Testament, although there are of course many more verses in the former.
Thus we should not overestimate the percentage of New Testament references
by a specific Father.

In the chart above, the number of references to each section of the Old
Testament has been weighted according to the text length of each section.
We can see very clearly that Torah and Psalms are quoted disproportionately;
prophetic texts are very often referenced, but in relation to
their text length this number of references is not as significant as for the
Psalms. Historical texts are very clearly underquoted.
If we go a step further, we see that the Church Fathers’ three favourite
books are the Psalms, Genesis and the book of Isaiah.

As far as the New Testament is concerned, the Gospels and Pauline Epistles are the most
quoted texts, both absolutely and in relation to their text length.

Matthew’s Gospel is overrepresented, whereas Mark is not very often quoted.
This is due to the actual practices of the Fathers, but also from a selection
bias due to the systematic choice of Matthew in the database in
case of identical synoptic parallels.
Use of the book of Ruth
A top ten list of the most quoted verses can also be established. After the
integration of Cyril of Alexandria’s works into the corpus, the first verse
of John’s Gospel is the most quoted by far. We can see the predilection
of the Church Fathers for christological verses: equality between God
and his Son and the reality of the incarnation are the main issues debated
with pagan, Jewish or heretical adversaries. These are not surprising
results, but the establishment of such global comparison points is completely

Use of the book of Ruth

These are not surprising results, but the establishment of such global comparison points is completely new.

TOP 100

JN 1 1 1523
GN 1 26 1304
JN 1 14 1215
JN 14 6 1091
GN 2 7 1087
PH 2 6 597
PH 2 7 876
1 C 1 24 853
COL 1 15 712
GN 3 1 609
HB 1 3 585
EP 6 12 561
1 C 1 30 519
MT 28 19 455
MT 28 19 455
GN 1 27 451
GN 1 1 437
JN 1 29 424
1 C 8 6 393
ES 7 14 391
JN 10 30 364
LC 1 35 354
JN 14 10 350
ML 3 20 344
MT 11 27 341
MT 25 41 341
PR 8 22 330
JN 14 9 328
RM 9 5 318
PH 3 20 317
MT 1 18 312
JN 11 25 312
PH 2 8 310
RM 8 15 303
MT 11 29 303
PS 110 1 299
JN 8 44 293
JN 10 11 283
MT 5 8 282
JN 3 16 281
EX 3 14 281
RM 7 14 279
1 C 10 4 278
TI 3 5 277
MT 1 23 274
MT 5 3 273
HB 10 1 273
MT 3 17 269
MT 16 18 263
GN 1 2 261
1 C 15 53 250
MT 5 17 249
RM 8 29 248
MT 5 44 248
LC 1 34 248
JN 15 26 248
JN 8 12 244
MT 3 16 242
HB 2 14 242
RM 8 3 241
LC 3 23 240
RM 1 3 238
ES 53 7 237
MT 2 1 236
1 C 15 28 235
JN 4 14 233
RM 6 4 231
MT 5 45 231
JN 17 3 229
MT 19 21 228
JN 15 1 228
RM 11 33 224
MT 7 13 219
MT 25 34 217
JN 19 34 216
MT 11 28 210
MT 5 28 209
PH 2 10 208
MT 5 16 207
MT 1 1 205
HB 4 12 201
RM 7 22 200
MT 28 20 199
1 C 15 49 197
1 C 15 24 193
MT 4 2 191
MT 7 14 190
RM 7 23 189
MT 27 51 188
TI 2 13 187
RM 1 25 186
RM 8 17 186
JN 4 24 186
PH 3 21 183
RM 5 14 180
RM 8 9 180
PS 1 1 180
RM 1 20 179
MT 23 37 177
PH 2 9 176
MT 5 22 176
MT 5 5 171
MT 1 20 166
MT 4 1 164
PH 3 13 161
LC 3 22 156
PS 33 6 155
1 C 15 50 149
RM 8 32 147
SP 7 26 143
PS 1 2 140
1 C 15 10 110


2.2. The distortion between the Bible and its patristic reconstruction

Insofar as the text of the patristic quotations will be gradually integrated
into the database, we shall ultimately be able to reconstruct the Bible of a
particular author. One would then be able to compare the Bible of two
authors, or one author’s Bible at different periods of his life.
Studying the use of a specific pericope can also lead to very interesting
results. If we take as an example the opening of John’s Gospel,
which contains the most frequently quoted verse, John 1:1, we have a
sample of more than 6,000 quotations or allusions. Although it is not
exhaustive, we can assume that such a huge corpus may be a representative
sample from the period that we are studying. We can draw a curve
showing the number of references to each verse of this biblical section,
very far from an equal use of each verse. Verses about John (6–8) are far
less quoted than the verses about the Word (whom John identifies with
Jesus): less than 20 references, whereas verse 1 is quoted more than
1,500 times!

2.3. Association of verses

As an instrument of textual comparison and hermeneutics, BIBLINDEX
makes visible thematic relationships, similarities in the grouping of references
and echoes between the authors. Without this tool, such comparisons
could only be perceived with difficulty.
For instance: Augustine identifies the blasphemy against the Holy
Spirit in Matthew 12:31 – ‘Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven
for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be
forgiven.’ – with the unforgivable sin of the First Epistle of John 5:16 –
‘If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin,
you will ask, and God will give life to such a one […] There is a sin that
is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that’. Is this an original
idea, or did some Fathers associate these two verses before him? We can
find 160 references to these two verses, but only four works which quote
them together and near from each other: the treatise De Pudicitia by
Tertullian, The Commentaries on John and Matthew written by Origen,
and Ambrose’s treatise De Paenitentia. As a matter of fact, Tertullian
and Ambrose are Augustine’s sources on this precise subject.

2.4. Textual criticism in the patristic field

Last but not least, the biblical references provide information about the
history of the texts which quote them. They give us valuable information
about the textual family or the biblical manuscripts to which the author
had access; about the debates on which he was dependent. They supply
him with quotations he does not always verify or reinterpret. These elements
can be deduced from the shape taken by the quotation (i.e. the
biblical variants of which it gives evidence), or from the interpretation
given. The precise form of the text helps to classify texts.
Biblical references may enable to date a work: thus we find in John’s
first Apocryphal Revelation (Tischendorf, C., ‘Apocalypsis Iohannis Apocrypha’, in Apocalypses apocryphae, C.Tischendorf (Leipzig, 1866, repr. Hildesheim, 1966), XVIII–XIX (introduction), 70–94 (Greek text edition).) biblical groups containing typically heterodox
eschatological views, based on which we can guess it was written in
the Byzantine Middle Ages. Isolated or organized together, these are a
classical criterion to authenticate a work. Similarly, a previously unidentified
allusion to the Letter of Jude helps, for example, to remove the
paternity of a text ascribed by some authors to John Chrysostom who, as
an Antiochene, would not quote this biblical book. The links between
two or several texts, not just as far as their authenticity is concerned but
also their literary or doctrinal influence, come out more clearly; it is
particularly true as regards the ‘jungle’ of the anthologies or chains,
exegetical compilations containing many fragmentary, badly attributed
or deformed texts. Duplicates will be spotted by establishing that a particular
fragment comes from a work transmitted and known in another

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.

 Lorenzo Perrone       

The photographic reproduction of the entire codex is available HERE.

eTRACES Sponsor Meeting, May 07./08. 2012 (Leipzig)

ABSTRACTS (arranged alphabetically)

Marco Büchler, University of Leipzig : eTRACES/ASV
Since quoting never happens by chance, but always with a positive (agreeing)
or negative (disagreeing) purpose, we propose to use text re-use techniques
for the quantitative generation of text re-use graphs. We also try to identify
“hotly” quoted passages of a work, which are used for scoring an information
retrieval result. This work is based on the Perseus Digital Library.

Mark Hedges, King’s College London : Digital Publication of highly interconnected Manuscripts: the Case of mediaeval Greek and Arabic Gnomologia
The production of digital critical text editions using the TEI standard, and their
publication on the Web, is now a widely-adopted procedure in the digital
humanities community. This talk extends this approach to address the
publication of gnomologia, or anthologies of wise sayings, which formed a
widespread literary genre in many of the mediaeval Mediterranean cultures.
The challenge of these texts arises from the fact that they were rarely copied,
resulting in a highly-interconnected corpus for which this standard approach to
digital publication is insufficient. Focusing on Greek and Arabic collections, we
address this challenge using semantic web techniques to build up an
ecosystem of relationships, and consider a new model of what constitutes an
edition of this material.

Gerhard Lauer, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen : eTRACES/GCDH
The GCDH subproject analyzes text re-use in German literature and is focused
on detecting re-use of the bible. The aim of the project is to show how many
and which types of textual re-use of a set of different bible editions can (and
can’t) be found using the Text-Mining-software. For our test cases the texts are
taken from the, especially the novels. But also any other text
under a creative commons license a user would like to upload could be used.
The results will be provided to the public in a freely accessible web-based
frontend, designed to provide a virtual research environment not only to find
and comment these results, but also to complement them with your own
findings. The talk will present and demonstrate a mock-up of the front end and
discuss problems of a typology of text re-use.

Brigitte Mathiak, GESIS – Leibniz institute for the Social Sciences, Bonn : eTRACES/GESIS
The GESIS part of the eTRACES project is about citation traces in German
social scientific texts. The last year was spent mostly on data cleansing and
the annotation of the texts. For next year, we are planning exciting analysis on
the motivation and sentiment of citations. We are presenting our first
prototype, [histo]Suche, which allows us to do a full text search on the
cleaned documents. Our next use case will be the CitationRecommender that
uses sentiment analysis and citation context to find good additional citation for
an author.

Laurence Mellerin, Institut des Sources Chrétiennes, CNRS, Lyon: Biblindex, Online Index of Biblical Quotations in Early Christian Literature
Biblindex (, a project led by the French Institut
des Sources Chrétiennes with the support of the Peshitta Institute of Leiden
University and the Institut für neutestamentliche Forschung in Münster, aims
at the constitution of an online index of biblical references to be found in
Jewish and Christian literature, as well as in Western and Eastern texts of Late
Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, in order to renew the study of the
interpretation and history of biblical texts.

Ute Pietruschka, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg: In the hunt for lost sayings: Parallels and translation technique in Syriac and Arabic gnomologia
The study of Greek gnomologia is based on the basic assumption that parallels
exist only if we can observe a close correspondence of sayings in wording and
syntax. Dealing with sayings in different languages, however, the researcher
has to decide, whether the passage in question is a parallel or a variant
different from the Vorlage. The analysis of the translation technique is
therefore of particular importance in order to outline the transmission of
collections of sayings in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic.

Andrea Scharnhorst, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam: Digital traces of scholarship – from classical bibliometrics to new tasks for information providers
This talks give a short introduction into bibliometrics – the quantitative study
of scholarly communication – and its more modern forms (webometrics and
altmetrics). It discusses the role of standardization in large-scale data mining
about scientific activities. It addresses problems such as “tracing authors” and
“identifying fields”. The talk closes with discussing the role of information
providers such as archives for a cartography of science and a better navigation
in the scientific landscape.

e-traces website

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

Bible cakeBible cake recipe
Take five measures among Solomon’s « sixty cors of meal » (1 K 4, 22), pour yeast « until all of it is leavened » (Mt 13, 33). Mix one measure of smooth « butter » (Ps 55, 21) with one of « curds » served by Yaël « in a lordly bowl » (Jdg 5, 25) ; add six pieces of what the ostrich « leaves to the earth » (Jb 39, 14), then a measure of milk and two of honey from the Land flowing with them (Ex 3, 8). Whip the mixture following Solomon’s advice (Pr 23, 14), and add « two clusters of raisins » given to the Egyptian by David’s servants (1 S 30, 12), two measures of « first-ripe figs » (Na 3, 12) and one of the ripe almonds borne on Aaron’s staff (Nb 17, 8).
As « with all your offerings », add a pinch of salt (Lv 2, 13) and a few teaspoons spices taken in the bags carried by the Queen of Sheba’s camels (1 K 10, 2), accompanied with « sweet cane from a distant land » (Jr 6, 20), ginger and « cinnamon » (Rev 18, 13).
Bake in « a heated oven, whose baker [needs] to stir the fire, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened » (Hos 7, 4), for as many minutes as years Mahalalel had lived (Gn 5, 15) before « he became the father of Jared », at twice as many degrees as years Enosh was old when « he became the father of Kenan » (Gn 5, 9). Then put into practice Mt 14, 20…

May your appetite for Bible grow in 2012 !

Photo credits :

An Israeli algorithm sheds light on the Bible

Software developed by an Israeli team is giving intriguing new hints about what researchers believe to be the multiple hands that wrote the Bible.

The new software analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors, and when applied to the Bible its algorithm teased out distinct writerly voices in the holy book.

The program, part of a sub-field of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution, has a range of potential applications _ from helping law enforcement to developing new computer programs for writers. But the Bible provided a tempting test case for the algorithm’s creators….
“We have thus been able to largely recapitulate several centuries of
painstaking manual labor with our automated method,” the Israeli team
announced in a paper presented last week in Portland, Oregon, at the annual
conference of the Association for Computational Linguistics. The team
includes a computer science doctoral student, Navot Akiva, and a father-son
duo: Nachum Dershowitz, a Tel Aviv University computer scientist, and his
son, Idan Dershowitz, a Bible scholar at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Read more :

The conference paper in question is available here:


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