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Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Homilies of John Chrysostom on the Book of Genesis

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, probably copied in the third quarter of the 10th century, with replacement portions added in the first half of the 15th, contains the first 33 of the <i>Homilies of John Chrysostom on the Book of Genesis</i>. These form the first half of the sequence of 67 homilies on this book, originally delivered by the Patriarch of Constantinople and leading patristic theologian (d. 407), in 388/389. They are collectively known as the <i>Hexaemeron</i>, from the six days of the Creation, and were among the most frequently copied of Chrysostom's works. They usually followed the standard sequence found here and were typically copied in two volumes, but there was no standard point of division between the volumes.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In time parts of the original parchment manuscript were lost, and in the first half of the 15th century replacement text on paper was added to supply the lost content by a scribe named Gerardos or Girardos. This included the final part of the manuscript, containing the last four homilies present here. Since the allocation of homilies to volumes was not consistent, the number of homilies included here was perhaps chosen bring the sequence up to the point where a second volume owned by the patron began.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The original part of the manuscript has previously been dated to the 12th century, following the view of M. R. James. However, the style of script clearly places it in an earlier period. The relatively precise dating followed here is guided by the selection of letter-forms found in the text. After the replacement of majuscule script by minuscule for most purposes in the 9th century, majuscule forms gradually crept back into use within minuscule text over the course of the 10th century, and the limited selection found here gives an indication of the point in the process in which the manuscript was probably produced.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Peculiarly, one of the homilies in the middle of the manuscript (Homily 20) seems to have been left unfinished by the original scribe, breaking off in the middle of a page of text, on the last folio of a quire composed of six folios rather than the usual eight (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(374);return false;'>f. 185v</a>). The later scribe Gerardos filled in the remaining text of this folio before adding a quire of new folios to complete this homily. The original portion of the manuscript then resumes with the next homily, beginning with a fresh quire.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Gerardos is sometimes described as a native of Patras in the north-western Peloponnese, a town at that time under Venetian rule, and had a brother named Stamatios who lived in Modon (Methone), another Venetian possession in the Peloponnese. Gerardos copied a variety of identified manucripts of both Christian and classical texts and his scribal career is believed to have been connected with the circle of the leading Italian humanist scholars Guarino da Verona and Vittorino da Feltre. A number of his manuscripts bear colophons recording the date of completion, but only one of these gives the location, identifying it as having been copied in Mantua, where Vittorino spent most of his career. This is the only evidence of the movements of Gerardos, so it is unclear whether this work is more likely to have been done in Greece or in Italy.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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