An overview of Origen’s Homiletic Output

In my free time, which is unfortunately sparse, I’ve been slowly reading through Henri Crouzel’s monograph, Origène (1984).The book is a rich source of discussion on the Alexandrian master: the second chapter contains an overview of his work, and that which survives.

One thing which struck me was just how important the recently discovered codex of homilies on the psalms may be.  Crouzel’s paragraph sums up the then status quaestionis nicely (pg. 71, my translation):

Nearly 300 homelies, as we have said, remain, 279 to be precise.  Of these, only 21 are conserved in Greek: 20 on Jeremiah, of which 12 also exist in a Latin translation of Jerome, and the celebrated homily on 1 Samuel 28, where Saul visits the Necromancer of Endor.  From Rufinus, we have 16 homilies on Genesis, 13 on Exodus, 16 on Leviticus, 28 on Numbers, 9 on Judges, 5 on Psalm 36, 2 on Psalm 37, 2 on Psalm 38, and 1 on the birth of Samuel, which may come from Rufinus, but that is uncertain.  From Jerome, we have 2 homilies on the Song of Songs, 9 on Isaiah, 14 on Jeremiah, of which 12 exist in Greek, 14 on Ezekiel, and 39 on the Gospel of Luke.  V. Peri has recently restored 74 homilies on the Psalms attributed by Dom Morin to Jerome who is here only the translator/adapter.”  

Using Alin Suciu’s list as a guide, the recently discovered codex gives us 29 homilies:

    • Psalm 15: 2
    • Psalm 36: 4 [1]
    • Psalm 66: 2
    • Psalm 73: 3
    • Psalm 74: 1
    • Psalm 75: 1
    • Psalm 76: 4
    • Psalm 77: 9
    • Psalm 80: 2
    • Psalm 81: 1


Even the four homilies that we know are authentic (due to having Rufinus’ translations) are a significant increase in the number of homilies we have in Greek.  If the rest of the codex, or even a large portion of it, turns out to the authentic, then we’ll have more than doubled the number of homilies we have in Greek.  The codex actually contains more homilies than we had in Greek from Origen before it’s discovery (29, compared to the 21 that Crouzel lists).

I did know that this work was important, but I didn’t realize it would augment our knowledge of “Greek” Origen by this much.  Granted, a lot of work needs to be done before all of the homilies can safely be attributed to Origen, but Perrone and others are in favor of authenticity at this point.

From what I’ve read, Peri’s attribution of those 74 homelies of Jerome to Origen has been received with skepticism by many. This codex may give us a chance to test his thesis more thoroughly.

It’s an exciting time to be interested in Patristics!

ἐν αὐτῷ,

[1] Note that Alin’s list follows the catalog description, but that the catalog description mistakenly lists 4 homiles on Ps 31 instead of 4 on Ps 36, which Perrone, as I recall, noted in the lecture I linked to in a prior post.

Using de Aldama’s Repertorium Pseudochrysotomicum

A number of weeks ago, I posted about some material on the Psalms attributed to John Chrysostom, which I had found in some codices at Oxford. Alin Suciu posted some helpful comments on the post, which included references to a volume which he has recently posted online: de Aldama’s invaluable Repertorium pseudochrysostomicum. See his post here for a description and download.

Time slipped away, and I didn’t follow up the links to Aldama. But now that he’s posted it, I decided to take a look and see what he had to say about one of the homilies I found: a homily on Ps. 41. The homily starts off:

Ὑμεῖς μὲν ἡμᾶς ἐθαυμάσατε
πρώην· ὅτε τὸν περὶ τοῦ μελχισεδὲκ ἐκινήσαμεν λόγον.
ἐπὶ τῶ μήκει τῶν εἰρημένων.
ἐγὼ δὲ ὑμᾶς ἐθαύμαζον,

Thus, I flipped down toward the bottom, and found the discussion under entry 520. He says this:

Etsi ad commentarium Chrysostomi in Psalterium non pertineat (cf. Baur, in Chrysostomica 235), habetur tamen ut genuina, non obstante attributione quam Antiocho Ptolemaidensi fecit Thomas Bruno : cf. PG 64, 1417-1418.

I’d turn that into English as:

Even if it does not pertain to the commentary of Chrysostom on the Psalter (cf. Baur, in Chrysostomica 235), it is thought to be genuine, not withstanding the attribution to Antiochus Ptolemaidensi which Thomas Bruno made (cf. PG 64, 1417-1418).

As you can see, it’s quite a useful tool! It tells us this homily is generally held to be genuine, that it doesn’t belong to Chrysostom’s larger work on the psalms, and gives some bibliography. Alin, thanks again for making this tool more widely available!

ἐν αὐτῷ,