Rahlfs 1039 and its Unstudied Psalter Commentary
February 16, 2023
Rahlfs Ms. 1039, now kept in Cracow's Jagiellonian Library, is a Greek Psalter codex that once belonged to the Preußische Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. It was bought in Paris in 1880 and, according to de Boor, came from a Greek island.[i]
During World War II, important parts of the Staatsbibliothek were brought to Cracow in order to keep them safe. Ra 1039 was one of them.
For seventy-five years, the codex remained hidden in the Dominican Convent of the Holy Trinity in Cracow and was rediscovered in 2014, together with twenty other Greek manuscripts. In March 2022, I examined it during a cataloguing and research trip of the Göttingen Psalter project.[ii]
The codex still preserves its original Byzantine binding in decorated brown leather with clasps; it consists of 538 parchment leaves and is defective at the beginning. The manuscript is written in the so-called minuscule bouletée and can be dated between the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th century.
Berolinensis graec. qu. 58, binding — Photo by Margherita Matera
The marginal commentary on the Psalms
Ra 1039 contains a marginal catena to the Psalms, unfortunately often faded and not always easy to decipher, which cannot be attributed to a specific catena type so far.
The catena frames the biblical text and is often quite long, sometimes up to 32 lines. The different excerpta are marked in red ink by reference marks or Greek letters indicating the order of the comments: from alpha onwards. The names of the Patristic authors of the catena are not provided.
Berolinensis graec. qu. 58, f.22r — Photo by Margherita Matera
Berolinensis graec. qu. 58, f.495r — Photo by Margherita Matera
Commentary on Ps 1 and 2
The following emerged from an examination of the first two Psalms (ff. 20r–23r):
- ff. 20r–21r contain the commentary on Psalm 1 by Theodoret of Chyrrus.[iii]
Theodoretus Cyrensis, Interpretatio in Psalmos, PG 80, cols. 866 lin. 32 – 868, lin. 9
Inc.: Τινὲς τῶν τὰς ὑποθέσεις τῶν ψαλμῶν συγγεγραφότων, ἠθικὴν τοῦτον ἔφασαν περιέχειν διδασκαλίαν, ἔμοι γε δὲ οὐχ ἧττον δογματικὸς ἢ ἡθικὸς ἔδοξεν εἶναι.
Des.: Καὶ γὰρ οἱ τῆς ἀρετῆς ἀθληταὶ τῶν μὲν πόνων κατὰ τὸν μέλλοντα βίον κομίσονται τοὺς καρπούς· οἷον δέ τινα φύλλα, τὴν ἀγαθὴν ἐλπίδα διηνεκῶς ἐν ἑαυτοῖς φέροντες τεθήλασι καὶ ἀγάλλονται, καὶ συλῶσι τῇ ψυχαγωγίᾳ τὴν τῶν πόνων βαρύτητα.
- ff. 21v–23r, contain a commentary on Psalm 2.
The Catena commentary is characterized by some anonymous fragments, followed by other excerpta by Origen,[iv] Athanasius of Alexandria,[v] Theodoret of Chyrrus [vi] and also some short quotations from the Commentarius breuis [vii] of Hesychius of Jerusalem (Hesychius Jagić).[viii]
The collation of these two first Psalms did not allow me to identify a catena Type. I notice that the excerpta found in catena to Psalm 2 recall, in a certain way, those of the catena of manuscript Ra 13, a witness of the catena Typus I (CPG C14).[ix] However, it is difficult to determine whether Ra 1039 is a witness of the same catena type. The investigation of this manuscript should be continued.
The catena has not been studied so far. For this reason, I have decided to present Ra 1039 on the occasion of the International Conference: “Collecting – Presenting – Studying – Transmitting. Scriptural Interpretations of Early Christians Authors in old Catenae Manuscripts and New Databases” that will be held in Vienna from 23rd to 25th March 2023, with the paper: “A Little-Known Middle-Byzantine Catena Psalter: Codex Cracow, Jagiellonian Library, Berolinensis graec. qu. 58 (Rahlfs 1039)”.
New suggestions for future investigations will surely emerge during the conference mentioned above.
[i] W. Studemund, L. Cohn, C. de Boor, Verzeichnisse der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin. Vol. I et II, Codices ex bibliotheca Meermanniana Phillippici graeci nunc Berolinenses, I–II, Die Handschriften–Verzeichnisse der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin 1890, 1897, Vol. II (1897), 207 (no. 360).
[ii] About the Berlinka collection cf. the blogpost “Cataloguing Mission at the Bibliotheka Jagellońska in Krakow: Insights in the Berlinka Collection”.
[iii] Theodoretus Cyrensis, Interpretatio In Psalmos (CPG 6202).
[iv] Origenes, Fragmenta in Psalmos (ed. J.B. Pitra, Analecta Sacra Spicilegio Solesmensi Parata, Vol. II, Paris 1884); Origenes, Selecta in Psalmos (CPG 1425). Cf. G. Dorival, Les chaînes exégétiques grecques sur les Psaumes: contribution à l'étude d'une forme littéraire, vol. 5, Leuven 2018, pp. 370– 378.
[v] Athanasius Alexandrinus, Expositiones In Psalmos (CPG 2140). Cf. G. Dorival, Les chaînes exégétiques grecques sur les Psaumes: contribution à l'étude d'une forme littéraire, vol. 5, Leuven 2018, pp. 318–320.
[vi] Theodoretus Cyrensis, Interpretatio in Psalmos (CPG 6202).
[vii] Hesychius Hierosolymitanus, Commentarius breuis in Psalmos (CPG 6553).
[viii] CPG 6553. About the so co-called Hesychius Jagić, cf. G. Dorival, Les chaînes exégétiques grecques sur les Psaumes: contribution à l'étude d'une forme littéraire, vol. 5, Leuven 2018, pp. 352– 353.
[ix] G., Karo, I. Lietzmann, “Catenarum graecarum catalogus”, Nachrichten der Königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, Göttingen 1902, pp. 21 – 24; E., Mühlenberg, Psalmenkommentare aus der Katenenüberlieferung, Band III, Berlin-New York 1978; Cf. G. Dorival, Les chaînes exégétiques grecques sur les Psaumes: contribution à l'étude d'une forme littéraire, vol. 2, Leuven 1989, pp. 84–126.
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