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.