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ORIGENES (ADAMANTIUS), Homeliae in librum Jesu Nave [Book of Joshua], Homeliae in librum Judicum, Homelia in Librum Regnorum I [Samuel] [De Helcanna et Phenenna], Homeliae in Jeremiam, Homeliae in visiones Isaiae, Latin translations by RUFINUS DE AQUILEIA and by SAINT JEROME

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Italy, Lombardy (Cistercian Abbey; related to Morimondo, near Milan?), c. 1180-1200

TM 663

173 ff., wanting a leaf after f. 78 and a gathering from the end, else complete (collation: i-ix8, x7, xi-xvii8, xviii6, xix-xxii8), scribal mistake between ff. 141v-142 resulting in a paragraph wanting but not wanting a full leaf or quire, contemporary numeric quire signatures, text copied in a double-column (justification: 267 x 165 mm), ruled in lead, written above the top line in a twelfth-century upright minuscule (straight and round “d”; “ae” usually written e-cedilla; lacks letter unions except for “pp”), with Cistercian punctus flexus, on up to 35 lines, contemporary quire numbering in small roman numerals on verso of last leaf of each quire, catchwords in the lower margins of last verso leaf of each quire (some cropped), running titles in small minuscule script in upper margins, (a few cropped), opening words of each homily copied in slightly larger capitals, opening words on ff. 1, 48, 64v, 71v, 86 copied in larger (almost display) capitals alternating in red and brown ink with decorative designs, text with numerous majuscules brushed in pale yellow, some capitals stroked in bright red, rubrics in bright red, some prickings still visible, some guide letters and guide words for initials and rubrics, quotation marks in brown ink in the margins, 75 initials of different size (from 2- to 16- line high (see initial “P” on f. 140v)), a few simply traced in red, the majority amply decorated mostly red monochromatic, but also use of green and brown (noteworthy, the absence of blue), some with decorative void spaces within the initials and red leafy and floral flourishing (some near “arabesque” decoration), acanthus scrolls, some red (and green, see f. 140v) feathery strokes for shading, numerous contemporary corrections (interlinear and marginal), many notae signs in brown ink and trifoil doodle in plummet facing particular noteworthy passages. Bound in a modern binding of red calf over wooden boards, smooth spine with gilt lettering, two clasps (Some internal stains to parchment, in particular on the two first leaves and the last seven leaves). Dimensions 345 x 225 mm.

Large format copy with wide margins and extensive decoration (75 initials) of Origen’s homilies on the Old Testament in the Latin translations by Rufinus de Aquileia and Saint Jerome. Certainly copied in the twelfth century, when the works of Origen were especially, this classic monastic manuscript is without doubt Cistercian and has been related to Morimondo near Milan, although confirmation of this provenance is pending. Twelfth-century manuscripts are increasingly rare on the market.


1. Copied in Italy, based on script and decoration, in and for use in a Cistercian Lombard foundation. There has been some suggestion that this foundation might be the Abbey of Saint-Mary at Morimondo, near Milan, founded in 1134. This is not confirmed by any internal inscription (as in TM 663, described on this site). The recent site dedicated to the Abbey of Morimondo and its artistic production includes the present codex (ex-Bergendal MS 15, see below) amongst the codices ascribed to the Abbey (see link Online resources below). This has yet to be proven stylistically and M. Ferrari, in her study on Cistercian scriptoria (1993), suggests rather a more general and not yet defined Cistercian Lombard origin. Further associations and groupings of extant codices based on paleographical and stylistic criteria might allow for a better localisation for this codex in one of the important Cistercian Lombard houses (see Ferrari, 1993, p. 291-292; compare also Milan, Bibl. Ambrosiana, H 48 sup.: “Raccolta di testi scritta in un monastero cisterciense di Lombardia (Ferrari, 1993, tav. VII)).

There is reason to believe the present codex is the second volume of a two-volume set which contained all the known Latin translations of homilies on the Old Testament by Origen, much like the two-volume set mentioned in the Morimondo Library catalogue (see Leclercq, 1961, p. 178: “Tractatus origenis super genesim et de veteri testamento duo volumina” (now Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, McClean 116 and 117); see also L. Light, 1988, pp. 11-13; M. Ferrari, 1993, p. 258). The first volume, which would have contained the homilies on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and perhaps also Numbers, would have preceded the present volume that starts with homilies on Joshua (as does McClean, 117, copied for use at Morimondo). Further study on Lombard Cistercian libraries might reveal the existance and wearabouts of this first volume.

2. Although there is no formal proof, this manuscript was once in the collection of Bishop Paolo Giovio (1483-1559), bishop of Nocera de Pagani, Italian physician, historian and biographer, noted collector of books, paintings and objects, originally housed in his villa on Lake Como. His collection was one of the first to include pieces of the New World. A set of copies of paintings from the collection, known as the Giovio Series, is on display in Florence at the Uffizi. On Paolo Giovio, see T. Price Zimmermann, Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of the Sixteenth-Century Italy (1996); B. Agosti. Paolo Giovio. Uno storico lombardo nella cultura artistica del cinquecento (2008); C. H. Clough, “A Manuscript of Paolo Giovio’s Historiae sui temporis, liber VII...”, in The Book Collector, vol. 38, no Spring 1989, pp. 27-59 : “His [Giovio’s] will, drawn up on 4 August 1552 in Florence, had left his palazzo, with its Museum, to the care of his nephew Paolo, the son of his brother Benedetto; Giovio’s intention was to have maintained as an entity the Museum, library and literary papers” (p. 34). 

Paolo Giovio acquired an important number of codices from Morimondo and other related Cistercian foundations (such as Chiaravalle Milanese; Chiaravalle della Columba; Acquafredda, S. Ambrogio). The manuscripts of Cistercian provenance were subsequently dispersed well after Giovio’s death, in the 17th and 18th centuries (on the dispersal of the Giovio Cistercian codices, see M. Ferrari, “Dopo Bernardo...”, 1993, pp. 286 et sqq.; certain of the Giovio codices were acquired by other collectors, such as Frank McClean, now Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Library). The present codex was apparently sold by one of Giovio’s descendants to Ulrico Hoepli (Cat. 83, 1883, no. 103; see M. Ferrari, “Dopo Bernardo...”, 1993, p. 290, note 135: “[...] n. 103 passato a Philip Hofer e ora Toronto, Bergendal MS. 15”). It was then in Philip Hofer’s collection (see M. Ferrari, “Dopo Bernardo...”, 1993, p. 305).

3. Belonged to Joseph Pope (1921-2010) of Toronto, investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts. Bought from Laurence Witten in September 1981. His “Bergendal Collection” MS 15 (described in Pope, 1999); brief description in Stoneman, 1997, p. 172 (no. 16); included in P. O. Kristeller, 1992, vol. VI, p. 456: “MS 15. Origen, Homiliae in Testamentum Vetus.”

4. Private Collection.


f. 1, Rufinus ad Aquileia, Prologue to Homeliae in librum Jesu Nave, rubric, In nomine dei [...] Adamantii senis qui origenes interpretante sancto ieronimi presbitero [...] .xxvi. in libro iudicum .ix. in regum .i. in ysaia .ix. in ieremia .xiiii. Incipit prologus; incipit, “In divinis voluminibus refertur quod ad constructionem tabernaculi unusquisque...” [published in Migne, PG, 823-824; modern critical ed. Baerhens and Jaubert, 2000, pp. 90-93];

ff. 1-48, Origenes, Homeliae in librum Jesu Nave [Book of Joshua], rubric, Explicit prologus. Incipiunt opuscula Adamantii; incipit, “Donavit Deus nomen quod est super omne nomine domino et salvatori nostro Ihesu Christo. Est autem nomen quod est super omne nomine Ihesus. Et quia est istud...”; next rubric, introducing Homily II, Finit omelia prima. Incipit .II. de eo quod scriptum est Moyses famulus meus defunctus est; explicit, “[...] cui est gloria et imperium in secula seculorum. Amen” [ed. C. Delarue, Paris, 1733, pp. 395-457; Migne, PG, 12, 825-948; Stegmüller, IV, 6181; modern critical ed. Baerhens and Jaubert, 2000, pp. 94-500]

The Book of Joshua is the sixth book of the Old Testament, the last book of the Hexateuch (the six first books of the Old Testament). The book is often called “Jesus Nave” by Church Fathers. This appellation dates from the time of Origen, who translated the Hebrew “son of Nun” by uìòs Nauê and insisted upon the Nave as a type of a ship; hence in the name “Jesus Nave” many of the Fathers interpreted Jesus as the Ship wherein the world is saved.

Rufinus of Aquileia’s translation is datable to c. 389-404 A.D. and is based on the original Greek, now lost. Hence the Latin translation is the only state of the text we still possess. The homilies on the Book of Joshua appear to be one of the last works composed by Origen circa 249/250 A.D. Many manuscripts – such as the present one in the rubric f. 1 – attribute erroneoulsy the translation to Jerome rather than to Rufinus. There are 26 homilies, all present here.

ff. 48-64, Origenes, Homeliae in librum Judicum, rubric, Finit omelia .xxvi. Feliciter. Incipit omelia prima in iudicum et servivit populus domino omnibus diebus ihesu et omnibus diebus seniorum quotquot fuerunt multorum dierum post ihesum qui viderunt omina opera domini magna ...; incipit, “Lector quidem presentis lectionis ita legebat : et timuit populus dominum...” [ed. C. Delrue, Paris, 1733, pp. 458-478; Migne PG, 12, 951-990; Stegmüller, IV, 6183];

There are 9 homilies, all present here.

ff. 64-71, Origenes, Homelia in Librum Regnorum I [1 Samuel, 1-3] [De Helcanna et Phenenna],  rubric, Finit omelia .ix. in judicum feliciter. Incipit omelia in regum de elchana et fenenna et anna et samuel et de hely et ophin [Hophin] et finees [Phinehas]; incipit, “Non tunc tantummodo Deus plantavit paradisum...” ; explicit, “[...] vite ambulem in christo ihesu domino nostro cui est gloria et imperium in secula seculorum amen” [ed. C. Delrue, Paris, 1733, pp. 481-489; Migne PG, 12, 995-1012; Stegmüller, IV, 6185; modern critical edition, P. and M.-T. Nautin, 1986, pp. 95 et sqq];

The first and second books of Kings were also known as the first and second books of Samuel. Books of 1 and 2 Kings comprise the history of Israel from the birth of Samuel to the close of David’s public life, and cover a period of about a hundred years. The first book contains the history of Samuel and of the reign of Saul. This manuscript does not contain the Homily on 1 Kings 28 and the Witch of Endor episode.

ff. 71-86, Origenes, Homeliae in visiones Isaiae, rubric, Finit homelia in regum. Incipit in Esaya. Omelia prima; incipit, “Quamdiu Ozias rex vixit videre non potuit....” [Not in Stegmüller, IV; ed. Migne PG, 13, 219-254, ending differently: “[....] si consideremus poterimus intellegere...; the present version in our manuscript continues over two columns and ends: “[...] per singula opera et efficeris filius dei in christo ihesu cui est gloria et imperium in secula seculorum. Amen];

ff. 86-131, Origenes, Homeliae in Jeremiam [Homilies on Jeremiah], transl. Saint Jerome,rubric, Incipit omelia prima in ieremia; incipit, “Deus ad benefaciendum promptus est ad pundiendos [sic] autem eos...” [ed. Migne, PG, 13, 255-543; Stegmüller, IV, 6205; modern critical ed. Klostermann, 1983; Nautin, P. and M.-T. Origène. Homélies sur Jérémie, 1976, 1977];

See also English translation: Origen. Homilies on Jeremiah. Homily on 1 Kings 28. Translated by John Clark Smith, Fathers of the Church 97. Washington, Catholic University of America Press, 1998.

f. 131, Jerome (Saint), Prologue to Homeliae in Ezechielem, rubric, Finit omelia .xiiii.ma. Incipit prologus in ezechielem prophetam; incipit, “Magnum est quidem amice quod postulas ut origenem...” [ed. Migne, PG, 13, 665-666];

ff. 131-173, Origenes, Homiliae in Ezechielem, transl. Saint Jerome, rubric, Explicit prologus. Incipit omelia prima; incipit, “Non omnis qui captivus est propter peccata...”; ends incomplete, last rubric, Explicit .xiii.a. Incipit .xiiii.a; incipit, “Et ait dominus ad eum porta hec clausa...”; explicit, “[...] et egredietur et erit clausa portas [...]. (wanting a few lines of Homily on Ezekiel III (ff. 141v-142; see Migne, PG, XIII, col. 689, missing from “sed in tecto capite orat Dominum ... habet super caput suum”: this is due to scribal error, because of repeated words “habet super caput suum”); wanting also most of Homily on Ezekiel, XIV).” To be noted: the homilies are complete in 14 homilies. There are 13 complete one here, and the beginning of the Homily XIV [ed. Migne, PG, 13, 665-768; Stegmüller, IV, 6208].

This very elegant, large and wide-margin manuscript contains Origen’s Homilies on a number of Books from the Old Testament, including Joshua, Judges, 1 Kings, Jeremiah and Isaiah, originally redacted in Greek, and here in the Latin translation by Rufinus de Aquileia and Saint Jerome. The Homilies are published in 1733 and again included in Migne, Patrologia graeca (vol. 12 and 13). Certain homilies have been published in modern critical editions (see Text above), but not yet all. For instance, in the present codex, the Latin translation of the homilies on Judges, on the Visions of Isaiah and on Ezekiel have not yet been republished critically.

Origen of Alexandria (A.D.c.185-c.253) is one of the most important thinkers of the Christian Church. His work is voluminous but there survives little in the original Greek. It is considered that almost every Christian religious thinker after the third century is indebted to him. Since many orthodox and traditional interpretations were not yet established, Origen offered his own conclusions and exegetical interpretations, concerning matters such as the motives of God, the origin of souls, the afterlife, the nature of Christ, the Trinity, the Church. For this he was condemned at times (he probably died following torture during the Decian persecution), and some even claimed he was not a Christian but a heretic who foisted philosophy upon the Scriptures.

Of all Origen’s works, the most accessible and yet immensely interesting are his homilies. The majority of the surviving homilies are in Latin translations, but there are twenty-one complete homilies extant in Greek from the homilies on Jeremiah and 1 Kings, delivered circa 240 A.D. In his homilies, which offer a glimpse of Origen as a preacher, one sees him responding to crises within his community and his own travails, revealing himself as exegete and religious thinker. His homilies transcend the genre and always inspire and surprise, even the modern reader. There are a great number of extant manuscripts, and the twelfth-century codices are especially interesting and plentiful as there seems to have been a rediscovery of the text resulting in multiple copies produced in monastic environments.

His translators were Jerome and Rufinus of Aquileia, both men of the following century. Rufinus of Aquileia (340-410) was a friend of Jerome, and, like Jerome, he departed from Italy to live in the East. For many years he lived in monasteries in Egypt and in Palestine, acquiring the learning of the Eastern churches. Towards the end of his life he returned to Italy and occupied himself in translating works of the earlier Greek Fathers into Latin, including the present Homilies of Origen. His Exposition of the Creed was an original work, but it shows the influence of the Greek church (and of Jerome) in several places. Jerome and Rufinus of Aquileia shared the ambition of making Greek theology accessible to the Latin world. Both made considerable use of Origen’s exegesis of scripture and made translations of his works into Latin, and both were active as spiritual advisers in Italy.

This manuscript, although there is no formal proof (ex-libris or inscription), was most likely copied in and for use in a Northern Italian Cistercian Abbey. It has been accepted as being of Italian Cistercian origin by M. Ferrari (1993), in her study of twelfth-century Cistercian libraries and scriptoria in Northern Italy. However, it is not considered to be copied or housed in Morimondo, and Ferrari remains vague as to actual attribution (“Tuttavia un certo numero di volumi resta senza una attribuzione precisa...Origene, Hom. in Vetus Testamentum (Toronto, Bergendal, MS 15)” (Ferrari, 1993, pp. 291-292). The manuscripts from Lombard Cistercian abbeys are indeed very widely dispersed (Ferrari, 1993, provides a list with shelfmarks), and a complete study of each surviving codex, many now in institutional holdings, will certainly allow for better attributions to specific monasteries. The task has begun for the Abbey of Morimondo, but what of the Cistercian foundations of Chiaravalle Milanese; Chiaravalle della Columba; Acquafredda, and S. Ambrogio?  More recently, a list of the codices related to or definetely from Morimondo has been posted on a site dedicated to the Abbey of Morimondo and the list includes the present codex (see Online Resources below). Further research is certainly necessary to associate with certainty this codex with either Morimondo or one of the lesser studied Lombard Cistercian foundations.

The decoration of this codex is quite plentiful, with a more or less elaborate – always decorated – initial at the opening of each homily (there are 75 small to very large decorated initials). Stylistic comparisons should be possible as the initials are quite striking, here in the pure style of Cistercian manuscript ornementation, and the delicate alternance of monochromatic red and green. To be noted, the absence of blue (found for instance in another Cistercian copy of Origen’s Homilies, firmly secured as coming from Morimondo, see Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS McClean 116 and 117, see link below in Online Resources).


Baerhens A. and A. Jaubert, ed. Origène. Homélies sur Josué, Sources chrétiennes, 71, Paris, Cerf, 2000.

Bandera, S. et al. Un’abbazia lombarda: Morimondo la sua storia e il suo messagio, Fondazione abbatia sancte Marie de Morimondo, 1998, in particular M. Ferrari, “Lo scriptorium di Morimondo”, pp. 103-111; S. Bandera, “Gli inizi dello scriptorium di Morimondo”, pp. 113-130.

Delarue, C. ed. Origenis. Opera Omnia quae Graece vel latine tantum exstant et ejus nomine circumferuntur.... Tomus II, Paris, 1733.

Ferrari, M., “Biblioteche e scrittori benedittini...” in Ricerche storiche sulla Chiesa Ambrosiana, IX,[Archivio ambrisiano, vol. 40, 1980], pp. 240-290.

Ferrari, M., “Dopo Bernardo: bibliotheche e scriptoria cisterciensi dell’Italia settentrionale nel XII secolo”, in P. Zerbi, ed. San Bernardo e l’Italia..., Milano, 1993, pp. 290, 292, 305.

Hammond Bammel, C. P.  Origeniana et Rufiniana, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1996. 

Klostermann, E. ed. Origenes Werke: Jeremiahomilien Klageliederkommentar..., Leipzig, 1901; reedition, P. Nautin, 1983.

Kristeller, P.O. Iter italicum..., Vol. VI, London and Leiden, 1992, p. 456.

Leclercq, Jean. “Textes et manuscrits cisterciens des bibliothèques des Etats-Unis”, in Traditio 17 (1961), pp. 163-183.

Light, Laura. The Bible in the Twelfth-Century, Cambridge, Harvard College Library, 1988.

Migne, J.P. Patrologia graeca. Origenis Opera omnia..., vol. 12, Paris, 1857 (repr. 1984).) and vol. 13, Paris, 1857 (repr. 1984).

Nautin, P. and M.-T. ed. Origène. Homélies sur Jérémie, Sources chrétiennes, 232 and 238, Paris, Cerf, 1976 and 1977.

Nautin, P. and M.-T. ed. Origène. Homélies sur Samuel, Sources chrétiennes, 328, Paris, Cerf, 1986.

Nautin, P. Origène, sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris, Beauchesne, 1977.

[Pope, J.]. One Hundred and Twenty-five Manuscripts. Bergendal Collection. Catalogue, Toronto, 1999.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, tomus IV : Commentaria, Madrid, 1954.

Stoneman, William P. “A Summary Guide to the Medieval and Later Manuscripts in the Bergendal Collection, Toronto”, in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., ed. Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Online resources

C. Delarue, edition 1733 (Homilies)

On the Abbey of Morimondo, this codex quoted in the list of codices related to the Scriptorium of Morimondo. To be noted, there are six codices in the former Toronto, Bergendal collection that are listed as related to or from the Abbey of Morimondo:

These two codices are listed in the Library catalogue of Morimondo
see Leclercq, 1961, p. 178, no. 21:
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS McClean 116 (from Morimondo)
Origen, Homeliae super Vetus Testamentum

Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS McClean 117 (from Morimondo)
Origen, Homeliae super Vetus Testamentum (including Homelies on Joshua; Judges; I Samuel; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Ezekiel)