Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Augustine Sermons?

Via Fr Z:
I just got word that some new sermons of St. Augustine have been discovered in Vienna.
I don’t have details yet.

How is this possible, you might ask? Well, there are thousands of manuscripts scattered about in monasteries and libraries throughout Europe. It's quite a task to compare the contents of these books with each other for variant readings, etc... Every now and again, scholars discover previously unknown works in these manuscripts.

In recent times, perhaps the most significant finds in the Augustinian field have been the Dolbeau sermons and the Divjak letters:
The prolonged peace of Europe, combined with the phenomenal development of computer technology, encouraged scholars to examine the manuscripts stored in the libraries of Europe more intensively than ever previously. In 1975, Johannes Divjak of Vienna (on mission from the Austrian Academy, to catalogue all manuscripts of Augustine in European libraries) found a mid-fifteenth century manuscript in the Bibliothèque Municipale of Marseilles. Produced in around 1440 for King René of Anjou, a rich but unfortunate monarch, the author of a courtly novel in the best late medieval manner, The Story of a Heart Caught by Love, the manuscript had been known, but had not been closely examined. It was assumed that an elegant late medieval manuscript could hardly contain any new work of an author as frequently copied as was Augustine. Hence the surprise of Johannes Divjak when, on examining the text, he found that it contained, added to a standard collection of Augustine’s letters, twenty nine other letters, of which twenty seven (many of them very long) were utterly unknown. Known now as the Divjak Letters, these twenty nine letters tell us in great detail about hitherto unknown events and about the activities of Augustine as a bishop in Roman North Africa in the last decades of his life: the longest and most vivid of them range from between 419 and 428.
Yet again, in 1990, François Dolbeau perceived that an apparently uninteresting, badly-copied manuscript of the late fifteenth century, recently catalogued in the Stadtbibliothek of Mainz, contained groups of sermons known previously only through titles in Possidius’ Indiculum and through Carolingian library lists of sermons and a few, short extracts. They were first announced to the learned world as the Mayence Sermons (from the French word for Mainz, the place of their discovery) and are now known as the Dolbeau Sermons, from their discoverer. One cluster of these sermons represents Augustine’s preaching at Carthage in the spring and summer of 397—that is, in the crucial year of the beginning of his career as a bishop, at a time when the Confessions were already forming in his mind. The other group of sermons takes us to Carthage and the little towns outside Carthage in the late winter and spring of 403-404, at a time of urgent reform in Catholic worship combined with new Catholic aggression against pagans and Donatists.
Can you imagine the excitement a scholar must feel in making such a find?


The Cranky Professor said...

I'm always telling my students that the scholarly life is a series of mood swings between thinking that everything has been said and done (usually in German, and printed in Fraktur) and realizing that nothing at all has been done and we need to get cracking!

Pastor in Valle said...

Fabulous discovery!

Anonymous said...

I have worked extensively in some of the major manuscript collections, in Vienna and Munich. The reason so many late medieval codices have not been thoroughly studied is that they often were dismissed by scholars as merely "devotional," that is, they contained some monk's commonplace jottings, the various texts he had copied over the years, in part for out of his own interest, but also to enhance his monastery's library.

Since the Enlightenment, indeed since the Renaissance humanists, the thrust of scholars was always to look for something new and unique, original. These collections of pious texts seemed uninteresting, merely "devotional collections."

To me they were fascinating because unexplored. All I ever wanted to understand was how the average guy thought and lived, not how the great geniuses made original contributions. But the mass of such codices and the costs of research in Europe (for a North American) combined with the prejudices of foundations for funding "sexy" postmodern, ideologically driven research rather than study of the mundane and ordinary manuscripts produced by nameless, nondescript copyists in faceless monasteries made it impossible ever to wallow at length in those collections.

Oh well.

Roger Pearse said...

Magnificent find in Erfurt University Library
Jens Panse, press department
University of Erfurt

[Picture] Ms. Dep. Erf. CA. 12° 11

[Picture] Folio 132 verso (start of the Sermo Erfurt 1)

New sermons of St. Augustine found in the Erfurt 'Bibliotheca Amploniana'

Six previously unknown genuine sermons of the famous early Christian church teacher Augustine (d. 430), bishop of Hippo Regius (Annaba) today in Algeria, were recently discovered in the university research library in Erfurt by three researchers of the Austrian academy of Science,
Vienna, in a manuscript more than 800 years old.

Isabella Schiller, Dorothea Weber and Clemens Weidmann succeeded in identifying four completely new sermons, and two more previously only known in an incomplete version, in a medieval handwriting of the 'Bibliotheca Amploniana'. The parchment manuscript with the shelfmark Dep. Erf. CA. 12° 11 was produced in the 2nd half of the 12th century, probably in England, and contains altogether over 70 further sermons of different late antique and medieval theologians.

The section of the handwriting, which contains the newly discovered texts together with about 20 other already well known genuine and inauthentic sermons of Augustine, is based on an old text collection, which emerged in its immediate vicinity. "Such sermon collections are from south Italy at the turn of the millennium ago, and arrived in England, where the texts were recopied and so became traditional", explains Isabella Schiller. The text of the sermons found in the summer 2007 in the Erfurter handwriting may have travelled the same route.

The externally entirely unremarkable book came in the 15th century into the collection of the learned bibliophile and theologian Amplonius Rating from Rhine mountain (d 1435), who in1412 gave his extensive manuscript collection of more than 600 volumes to the 'Collegium Amplonianum' established by him in Erfurt.

As the largest existing closed book collection of a medieval scholar in the world, the 'Bibliotheca Amploniana' is stored today in the university library at Erfurt and scientifically preserved in collaboration with the Catholic theological faculty.

That six newly discovered treat sermons entirely different subjects. In three of the Erfurt sermons, active charity in the form of alms is the central subject (Erfurt Sermons 2, 3, 4). In them, Augustinus discusses the link between the material support that the community gives to its bishop, and that of him performing a spiritual return in the form of pastoral care.

"Three of the titles - however the complete texts - these sermons are not known from the so-called 'Indiculum'. That is a index of works compiled by Possidius, friend and student of the great church father, in his biography of Augustine which was published only a few years after his death", says Dorothea Weber, who was involved in the authoritative identification of the texts.

A further two of the newly discovered sermons were given on the occasion of of martyr festivals. One of these sermons on Perpetua and Felicitas (Erfurt 1) still existed in late antiquity in its complete form. However this version had already been displaced before the start of the Middle Ages by a very abbreviated version. "Through this unique find the complete sermon text is now again known", beamed Clemens Weidmann, who worked for months intensively on the first scholarly investigation of the texts.

The newly discovered sermons will be published in the renowned Austrian scholarly journal 'Wiener Studien. Zeitschrift für Klassische Philologie und Patristik und lateinische Tradition' . In volume 121, the Sermones Erfurt 1, 5 and 6 appear while the Sermones Erfurt 2, 3 and 4 will appear in the coming year.

The manuscript will be available as of Wednesday 26.3.2008 to the press in the rooms of the special collection of the UB Erfurt for photographs and filming.

On Tuesday, the 15.4.2008, I Schiller, D. Weber and C. Weidmann, at the invitation of the University of Erfurt will introduce the discovery in a public presentation to a wider public in Erfurt. Place and time of the presentation: Erfurt, Coelicum (Domstr. 10), 19.00 clock. Photographs and filming as well as interviews with the Viennese researchers are possible in Erfurt on the same day (15.4.2008) between 15.00-16.00 in the rooms of the special collection of the UB Erfurt.

Further information/contact: Point of contact is the advisor of the special collection Thomas Bouillon (, Tel. 0361-737-5881 or, Tel. 0361-737-5880

Anonymous said...

have been wondering if Augustin's Expositions on the Psalms have ever been published unabridged in English. I have read the abridged versions.

Like the Scriptures, what Augustin wrote cannot ever be fully understood through human wisdom. One of the most important subjects he taught about was baptisms but few have understood what he wrote or what the Scriptures declare. Why? Few have obeyed Mt 6:33a. We must seek first God's Kingdom and God's Righteousness, the Righteousness that is revealed in the Gospel for us to have Faith in or we cannot ever fully understand the Scriptures, Mk 1:14-15; Ro 1:16-25.

Augustin knew it is critical that we begin where we were all told to begin according to Mt 6:33a; Ro 1:16-25. This is why two of his most quoted Scriptures are Ro 5:5 and Ro 10:3. Augustin understood because, like all other true Christians, he had the Greatest Teacher there ever was and is and will be, Jn 6:44-45.

“O you kindreds of the people! Ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour!" Ascribe them not unto yourselves because they [the apostles] also, who have declared it unto you, have not declared their own but His honour. Do ye then "ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour" and say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us but unto Your Name give the praise!" Put not your trust in man! If each of you is baptized, let him say, "He [the Lord Jesus Christ] baptizes me," of whom the friend of the Bridegroom [John the Baptist] said, "He baptizes with the Holy Spirit!" For when you say this, you ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour! "Ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour!" [Amen! Amen!]

From Augustin's Exposition on Ps 96, paragraph 8.

Anonymous said...


Do you scholars know that Augustin and George Fox taught the very same Gospel? Yes, they did! Augustin didn't believe in physical water baptisms for anyone, not even for physical infants. He did believe in the one and only spiritual New Covenant Holy Spirit Baptism for spiritual infants. He did believe in the one Baptism given by the one Lord Jesus Christ through Repentance and the one Faith in His Righteousness that is revealed in the Gospel.

Are you scholars familiar with the 1260 Last Day's prophecies of The Revelation? Do you know there were 1260 years between the conversions of Augustin and George Fox? Do you know there were 1260 years between their physical deaths, keeping in mind that when Fox died, January was still considered the 11th month and, therefore, the year he died was 1690?

anne robare / canawedding on aol