Spectacular Discovery: Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms in their Original Greek Version

In the context of the ongoing cataloguing project of the BSB’s Greek manuscripts from the collection previously owned by Johann Jakob Fugger, a spectacular discovery has been made. While cataloguing a twelfth-century manuscript, philologist Marina Molin Pradel was able to identify numerous passages from the original Greek version of the homilies on the Psalms by Origen (185-253/4 A.D.), which were previously unknown. Origen Adamantius of Alexandria is considered the most important theologian of the early Christian Church before Saint Augustine of Hippo.

The importance of this discovery for research and the academic world cannot be overestimated. The attribution of the texts to Origen has been confirmed by Lorenzo Perrone of Bologna University, an internationally renowned specialist for the works of this author, “with the utmost probability”.

Origen is considered as the founder of the allegorical interpretation of scripture in biblical exegesis. His numerous works, which have survived only in fragmentary transmission or in Latin translations, are counted among the foundations of Christian thought. Origen has had a profound influence on the history of ideas in the fields of theology, philology and preaching from late antique times to the present.
Until today, his homilies on and interpretations of the Psalms were known only in fragmentary transmission or in Latin translations. The manuscript into which the newly discovered texts were copied is an unconspicuous and bulky volume dating from the twelfth century.

According to Rolf Griebel, Director General of the BSB, “This discovery is extremely important – both for its age and for the sheer number of texts concerned. It will stimulate lively discussion in the academic world and it will even give us new insights into the textual tradition of the Greek Bible. Origen’s works were read by all church fathers and had a profound influence on them. This find will permit scholars to study the previously unknown original Greek text”.

The manuscript has been digitised by the BSB and can be accessed via the internet:

www.digitale-sammlungen.de > Enter “Homiliae in psalmos” or “Cod.graec. 314”

The BSB owns more than 650 Greek manuscripts and thus holds the most important collection of this kind in Germany. It has always been consulted by scholars intensively. Academic cataloguing of the manuscripts is carried out in the library’s own Manuscripts Cataloguing Centre and is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

This discovery underlines the necessity of and the wealth of new insights made possible by this laborious and thorough examination of the original volumes. The cataloguing project for the Greek manuscripts can celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, but it will take at least another fifteen years to complete these new academic descriptions of all Greek manuscripts owned by the BSB.

Dr. Claudia Fabian
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Abt. Handschriften und Alte Drucke
Ludwigstr. 16, 80539 München
Tel.: +49 (0) 89/28638 2255

Peter Schnitzlein
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Ludwigstr. 16, 80539 München
Tel.: +49 (0) 89/28 638 2429

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.