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ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOMOS, [Opuscula] Quod nemo leditur nisi a semel ipso ; De compunctione cordis ; De reparatione lapsi

In Latin, manuscript on paper
[Italy, likely Verona, c. 1450-65]

TM 29
sold

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
40 folios, complete, 4 gatherings of 10 (i-iv10), last two folios blank, quire signatures, catchwords, written on paper (watermark, three mountains surmounted by a cross; compare Briquet, 11736, Verona, 1450 and 11739, Verona, 1459-63) in dark brown ink in a tight humanist bookhand, in a single column of up to 43 long lines (justification 125 x 192 mm), ruled in plummet, added marginal annotations, space left blank for planned initials, never executed, titles of three texts are given in the explicit, marginal annotations announcing incipit of following text (ff. 9, 22), repairs to paper made with strips of parchment, some foxing and water stains, but text intact. Nineteenth-century binding spine of black morocco, marbled paper over boards, marbled pastedowns, triple gilt fillets and fleurons on spine, title gilt on spine: “S. CHRYSOSTOMI REPERATIO LAPSI MS. CHART.” Dimensions 195 x 287 mm.

Humanist manuscript compilation of three short tracts on the virtues of the ascetics life by St. John Chrysostomos, transcribed in northern Italy and pre-dating the printed editions, and thus providing interesting evidence for the reception of St. John Chrysostom’s writings in Renaissance circles.

Provenance

1. Written in northern Italy just after the middle of the fifteenth century on the basis of the script and the watermarks.
2. Edward Everett (1794-1865), Secretary of Sate in 1852, minister and theologian, President of Harvard College, “the other speaker at Gettysburg”, and manuscript collector; his armorial bookplate on pastedown of upper cover (many of his Greek manuscripts were given to Harvard College Library).

Text

The text contains Latin translations of three treatises by St. John Chrysostom.

ff. 1-9, St. John Chrysostom, Quod nemo leditur nisi a semel ipso; incipit, “[S]cio quod crassioribus quibusque et presentis vite illecebris inhiantibus atque his qui per omnia terre adherent…”; explicit, “…nocere nequa quam poterunt ei qui a semel ipso non leditur. Explicit tractatus beati Johannis Chrisostomi siper illo verbo verissimo et probatissimo Quod nemo leditur nisi a semel ipso”.

ff. 9-22, St. John Chrysostom, De compunctione cordis ; incipit: “Cum te intueor beate Demetri frequenter insistentem mihi et omni cum vehementia…”; explicit, “…effecti cibus inextricabilis in mortalibus flammis. Explicit tractatus sancti Johannis Chrisostomi de repunctione cordis.” ; (Liber primus: ff.9-17; Liber secundus: ff.17-22).

ff. 22-37, St. John Chrysostom, De reparatione lapsi ; incipit, “Quis dabit capiti meo aquam et oculis meis fontem lacrimarum…”; explicit, “…hec libenter legas alia ultra meditamenta non queras. Explicit liber sancti Johannis Chrisostomi de reparatione lapsi opus quidem sanctus, dulce, verum, vehemens, doctum, copiosum et elegans. Explicit liber sancti Johannis Chrisostomi de reparatione lapsi, opus quidem sanctum dulce verum vehemens doctum copiosum et elegans” (Goff, J-295)

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), whose name means “golden tongue” which alludes to his great oratorical skills, was monk, preacher, theologian, deacon, and Patriarch of Constantinople. Born in Antioch, he seemed destined for a career in law because of his great eloquence, but following his conversion at the age of 23, he retired to a monastery in the hills outside Antioch. There, he lived an ascetic life for six years, writing, studying, and embracing the monastic existence, which he referred to as the “true philosophy.” Ill-health forced him to return to Constantinople, where he was admired, if not always liked, for his high-minded reformist principles. He preached against excesses among the clergy and in the government, which led him twice to be exiled from Constantinople, because of his attacks on the Empress Eudoxia. He became one of the Greek Doctors of the Church, and already St. Jerome included him in his account of virtuous Christian men.

The voluminous writings by St. John Chrysostom fall into three categories: “opuscula,” sermons, and letters. Most of the “opuscula” date from the monastic period early in his career, and many of them, like the present three, deal with the virtues of the ascetic life. De Compunctione is the most renowned of these. De reparatione lapsi exhorts a renegade monk to return to his monastery. Quod nemo leditur was written in exile, and it sets out to prove how one’s enemies cannot do spiritual harm without one’s cooperation. Among the homilies, there are commentaries on the Bible, groups of sermons on specific subjects, and single homilies. Noteworthy among the letters are those he wrote while he was in exile. The most well-known apocrypha is the liturgy attributed to him, which he perhaps modified, though did not compose. His writings were translated into Greek and widely disseminated in the Middle Ages. He was not a speculative thinker, but his authority was frequently invoked in matters of faith as much in the Latin Church as in the Greek.

In spite of the widespread dissemination of St. John Chrysostom’s writings in the Latin West, there are relatively few manuscripts of the monastic tracts housed in North American collections. Compare a manuscript of similar fabrication, date, origin, and content in New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS 863 (see Shailor). DeRicci and Bond record only two manuscripts that combine the same three texts,one made in England and the other in France, both in the twelfth century (DeRicci, pp. 230, 602, in the Library of Congress
and ex-collection Detterer, Chicago, present location unknown). These writings were printed in c. 1483 (De Compunctione, Goff J-278) and c. 1495 (Goff J-281), etc. The present manuscript certainly predates the printed editions.

Literature

Baur, C. S. Jean Chrysostome et ses œuvres dans l'histoire littéraire (Recueil de travaux publiés par les membres des conférences d'histoire et de philologie. 18e Fascicule), Paris 1907. (lists all editions 1466-1906; and all biographical and critical studies from the 1500s-1906).

Bouhot, J.-P. “Les traductions latines de Jean Chrysostome du Ve au XVIe siècle”, in: G. Contamine (ed.), Traduction et traducteurs au moyen âge. Actes du colloque international du CNRS organisé à Paris, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, les 26-28 mai 1986, Paris: Éd. du CNRS, 1989, pp.31-39.

Malingrey, A.-M. “La tradition latine d’un texte de Jean Chrysostome (Quod nemo laeditur)”, Studia Patristica 7 (1966) 248-254.

Shailor, Barbara. Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, 1987-92.

Online resources

Exhaustive bibliography of studies on St. John Chrysostom
http://www.cecs.acu.edu.au/chrysostomresearch.htm

The Saint John Chrysostom Webpage
http://www.chrysostom.org

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