A spectacular discovery was recently made in the Bavarian State Library, in the process of cataloguing the Greek manuscripts from the collection of Johann Jakob Fuggers. While cataloguing a manuscript, Philologist Marina Molin Pradel identified numerous texts of sermons on the Psalms by Origen of Alexandria (AD 185 – 253/54), the most important theologian of the early Christian church before Augustine–sermons which until now had not been known in the original. The importance of this find cannot be overestimated. The attribution to Origen was confirmed, with the highest degree of certainty, by internationally recognised Origen expert Lorenzo Perrone from the University of Bologna.
Origen is regarded as the founder of the allegorical interpretation of Scripture. His works, which are numerous, yet are often no longer extant or only found in Latin translation, are fundamental for Christian thought. As a philosopher, theologian, philologist and preacher, Origen has made a deep impression on the intellectual history from late antiquity to today. His sermons and interpretations of the Psalms were, until now, only fragmentary and only extent in Latin translation. The inconspicuous-looking, extensive Greek manuscript, whose true contents have now been identified, comes from the 12th century.
“The find is extremely important–both in terms of its age and its extent. It will trigger lively discussion in scholarly and research circles, and will even allow new insights into the text of the Greek version of the Bible. All of the church Fathers had read Origen and received his work in depth. The discovery allows us now to deal directly with hitherto unknown original texts”, said General Director Rolf Griebel.
The manuscript has already been digitised by the Bavarian State Library and is available to everyone on the Internet:
- www.digitale-sammlungen.de > Type in “Homiliae in psalmos”
The Bavarian State library possesses more than 650 Greek manuscripts, the largest collection in Germany. It has been, and still is, used intensively by scholars. Scholarly analysis takes place at the in-house Manuscript Analysis Centre, funded by the German Research Foundation. The find shows how necessary and important is this detailed and elaborate analysis. The project of cataloguing the Greek manuscripts in the Bavarian State Library celebrates its 20th Jubilee this year; it will last at least fifteen more years until all of the Greek manuscripts have been freshly recorded.