Augustine: new sermons found at Erfurt

Translated from: 

Magnificent find in Erfurt University Library - New sermons of St. Augustine found in the Erfurt 'Bibliotheca Amploniana'

Jens Panse, Press Department, University of Erfurt 

Blatt 132 Rückseite (Beginn des Sermo Erfurt 1)
 Folio 132 verso (start of the Sermo Erfurt 1)

Handschrift Dep. Erf. CA. 12° 11 
Ms. Dep.  Erf.  CA.  12° 11

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.  

The 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

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse. Corrections and additions are very welcome.

This page has been online since 28th March 2008

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