The Barberini gr.336 Manuscrip

The Barberini gr.336 Manuscript

Introduction by Stefano Parenti

From L'Ecologio Barberini Gr. 336, by Stefano Parenti and Elena Velkovska, CLV - Edizioni Liturgiche, Roma 2000, pp. 19-23; here reprinted with permission.

For Italian text, click here.
For excerpt from the manuscript, click here.

Barberini gr.336 is the oldest and, without any doubt, the most famous manuscript containing the Byzantine Euchologion, i.e. the liturgical book which presents the Eucharistic prayers, the presidential prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours, the rites of the sacraments and a large collection of blessings and prayers for various situations and necessities. The greater part of these texts, naturally in a different textual recension, are still in use today in the patriarchate of Constantinople and in all the Churches which belong to the liturgical tradition which scientifically is called Byzantine (1).

This codex [= manuscript in book form] testifies to the emigration to Italy of colonies of Christians from the Middle East, as Enrica Follieri has written, “this liturgical book forms part of one of the most dramatic chapters in the story of Mediterranean people during the Middle Ages” (2). Because of this, the codex certainly would merit a wider introduction than I can present here, something which I envision doing anyway in a second volume of this work, which is still in preparation. Meanwhile, however, I owe you a preliminary explanation, however imperfect, of its history, its main characteristics and its contents.

1. Date

All experts who have given attention to the Euchologion, starting from its first admirer, the erudite Greek Leone Allaci (3), agree more or less unanimously in maintaining that the codex arose in the 8th century. Brightman, who bases his view on a series of dates which arise from internal criticism, has proposed an even more precise date. He points to an intercession in the Anaphora of Chrysostom: υπερ τών πιστοτάτων βασιλέων, τής φιλοχριςστου βασιλισσης-- “for the most trustworthy kings, and for the queen beloved by Christ” (§ 37.4) (4). According to Brightman the kings in question would have to be identified with Constantine VI of the Syriac Dynasty (780-797) and Mary, married in 788, or his second wife Theodota, married in 795; while the queen (βασιλισσα) could not been anyone else than Irene, the wife of Leo IV (775-780). Therefore the codex must have been copied between 788 and 797 (5).

But this kind of argumentation has been questioned. In effect, the plural expression “kings” does not refer to the emperor and his spouse, but to the emperor and those associated in the government of the Empire (6). Nevertheless, it is possible to establish from the codex the extremes for fixing a date which may be less precise than that proposed by Brightman, yet helpful and more credible.

In 1953 Ch. Konstantinidis was the first to draw attention to the fact that one of the prayers of the kind sent “from the ambo”, the second in the collection copied towards the end of the codex (§ 274.1), is attributed to “the Patriarch Germanus”, who can be identified with Germanus I of Constantinople (715-730), who died in 733, a date which would constitute a precise terminus ante quem non [= “not earlier than”] (7). A possible terminus post quem non [= “not later than”] is provided by another prayer, this time in Latin and of Nordic tradition, copied on folium 279 verso (8). The prayer, which was “inserted by a Greek hand” (9) and destined for the blessing of milk and honey, has been dated by A. Wilmart to around the year 800, with a possible uncertainty margin of 20 years (795-815) (10). The dating of the codex to the second half of the 8th century needs therefore to be retained (11).

2. Provenance

The Roman prayer for the blessing of milk and honey which has allowed Wilmart to produce a date of such importance for the dating of the Euchologion, makes the same author say that the codex must have been copied on Italian soil (12). Even if the addition arises from a correction years after the editing of the manuscript, it would seem logical to indicate Italy as the home of the Barberini manuscript, but Wilmart “convinced as all his predecessors that the manuscript could not have been written except in Constantinople, explains it presence in Italy as follows”: (13)

“As soon as the copy had been completed, the work was transported to Italy, probably to be offered to some ecclesiastical dignitary. Therefore the gift of this elegant book, though not sumptuous, could be in a location that was not its first” (14).

Granted, Wilmart’s explanation is not a pure product of fantasy, given that at that time and for at least another 20 years nobody - not even Strittmatter - had expressed himself in favour of another possible hypothesis. But in his study on the liturgy of Hippolytos, which appeared in 1959, Jean Marie Hanssens already made it known among scholars that he considered the Euchologion Barberini to be of Italian Byzantine origin. He wrote about this as follows:

“The oldest [euchologion] . . . is the famous Barberini gr.336 of the Vatican, previously Romans 3, 55 which, as is well known, presents the Byzantine rite as it was practised in the middle of Italy around the year 800" (15).

This puts A. Jacob’s statement in perspective. When asked whether he was willing to consider an Italian origin for the codex, he still wrote in 1967 that “until now nobody has ever thrown doubt on its Constantinopolitan origin" (16). In any case, it follows from this that the codex Barberini, apart from being absolutely the oldest Byzantine Euchologion accessible to us, is at the same time the oldest testimony of the Italian Greek recension of the Byzantine rite, which was still practised in some regions in the middle of the peninsula until the end of the 16th century and in our own days still in the Italian Byzantine monastery of Grottaferrata in the vicinity of Rome.

3. The History of the Codex

We do not know exactly when the Barberini Euchologion was withdrawn from liturgical use and became a library book. The few important marginal notes of the 9th, 10th & 11th centuries (17) makes one wonder about the limitations of the Codex in a time in which the maiuscular script [= script using only capital letters] was progressively abandoned and in which [new] formulae evolved.

On folium 263 verso (originally this was the last page of the Codex), on high on the right side, one finds a library mark consisting of a large “T” with a cross on top (18) which Wilmart, although he did not succeed to establish its provenance, dates to not before the 11th century, admitting that “the mark could also go back to the 13th or 14th centuries” (19). One thing, however, is certain: in the 14th century the Codex Barberini was already part of the refined collection of the Medici in Florence. On the outside cover II verso, one can in fact find an annotation which must, perhaps, be attributed to the hand of Zenobi Acciaiuoli obi (1461-1519) (20), librarian in the Convent of St Mark until 1513 (21): “Prayers of the Mass and of the whole office according to St Basil. Convent of St Mark in Florence of the Order of the Brothers Preachers belonging to the inheritance of Nicolai de Nicholis”. Also we find, a little higher up, the numbering and location which the Codex had received: “33. on the first shelf towards the East” (22). Also we find on folium 1 recto: “Prayers of the Mass according to St Basil and prayers of the whole office and a way of containing heretics”; and on folium 17 recto, the last annotation: “The Office of the Greeks”.

The magnificent collection of codices of the humanist and book lover Nicolo Nicoli (1363-1437) (23), on account of his precise testamentary decision (24), passed in 1441 to the Florentine Convent of St Mark of the Dominicans (25), for which Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464) established the first public library of modern times (26). In the course of the 17th century the Euchologion changed owners again, and ended up in the Library of Cardinal Barberini in Rome, afterwards to pass, in 1902, to the Vatican Library on account of the acquisition of the whole Barbarinian collection by Leo XIII (27).

Many of the codices in the present Barbarini collection of the Vatican Library carry an ownership note of the Florentine Senator Carlo Strozzi (1587-1670) (28) and, among them, some derive from the Library of the Convent of St Mark and, just as the Barberini Euchologion, arrived there on account of an inheritance from Nicolo Nicoli (29). On account of this, G. Mercati (30), followed later by A. Diller (31), has hypothesised that, given the bonds of friendship between the Strozzi family and the noble Roman family of the Barberini who originally were Florentine, the Euchologion came to this library through that route, but this hypothesis of Mercati must still be verified. Anyway, by its entrance into the library of the Barberini, the codex received a new scope by becoming a source for liturgical studies.

Footnotes

1. R.F. Taft, The Byzantine Rite, A Short History, Collegeville, Mn, 1992.

2. E. FOLLIERI, Le scritture librarie nell'Italia bizantina, in Libri a documenti d'Italia: dai Longobardi alla rinascita delle città. Atti del Convegno Nazionale dell'Associazione Italiana Paleografi a Diplomatisti. Cividale, 5-7 ottobre 1994, Udine 1996, 69.

3. L. ALLATIUS, De libris ecclesiasticis Graecorum dissertationes duae, Paris 1645, 72.

4. The numbers un brackets refer to the paragraphs of the edition of the text.

5. LEW, LXXXIX, cf. anche WILMART, Bénédiction romaine, 16.

6. A. JACOB, La tradition manuscrite de la liturgie de saint Jean Chrysostome (Vllle-XIIe siècle), in Eucharisties d'Orient et d'Occident, II (Lex Orandi 47), Paris 1970, 115. Note, however, that the comparison made by Jacob with this formula found in the liturgy of St. Basil: »υπερτου ευσεβεστατου και πιστοτατου ημων βασιλέως (in the singular) θ misses the point. As I will say presently, the liturgy of St. Basil as in the echologion Barberini contains a whole section of intercessions, including the one for the rulers, while the text quoted by Jacob (LEW, 333, left col., rr. 4-6) belongs to the Italian-Greek euchologion of Grottaferrata Γ.Β. VII from the end of the Xth century, which Brightman uses to supplement the gap in Barberini.

7. Ch. L KONSTANTINIDIS, Dédicace des Eglises selon le rite byzantin vers la moitié du VIIIe siècle, in Πεπραγμενα του θ’διεθνους Βυζαντινολογικου, II, Atene 1956, 214.

8. Ed. MAILLART, Bénédiction romaine, 15-16.

9. E. BISCHOFF, Paléographie de l'antiquité romaine et du moyen âge occidental, translated by H. ATSMA et J. VEZIN, Paris 1985, 209, nota 9.

10. WILMART, Bénédiction romaine, 11; KONSTANTINIDIS, Dédicace des Églises, (supra, nota 7), 213.

11. Re-stade recently in A. JACOB - J.-M. MARTIN, L'Église grecque en Italie (v. 650- v. 1050), in Histoire du Christianisme des origines à nos jours, tome VI: Évêques, moines et empereurs (610-1054), Paris 1993, 367.

12. WILMART, Bénédiction romaine, 11.

13. A. JACOB, L'evoluzione dei libri liturgici bizantini in Calabria a in Sicilia dall'VIII al XVI secolo con particolare riguardo ai riti eucaristici, in Calabria bizantina: vita religiosa e structure amministrative (Atti del primo a secondo incontro dì studi bizantini), Reggio Calabria 1974,

14. WILMART, Bénédiction romaine, 16.

15. HANSSENS, 154, nota 1.

16. JACOB, La tradition manuscrite (supra, nota 6), 115.

17. The edition will be found below on p. 33.

18. WILMART, Bénédiction romaine, 17 (cf. anche MER, 12-13, nota 2).

19. WILMART, Bénédiction romaine, 17-18.

20. Cf. the term « predicatorum [=preachers]»reported earlier on with the specific handwriting of Acciaiouoli reproduced in M. BERTOLA, I primi due registri di prestito della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Codici Vaticani Latini 3964, 3966, Città del Vaticano 1942, tavola 123.

21. See the opinion of A. L. REDIGONDA, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, I, 93-94.

22. Vd. ULLMAN-STADTER, Library, 78, 111, 273.

23. R. ZIPPEL, Nicolò Niccoli. Contributo alla storia dell 'Umanesimo, Firenze, 1890; R. SABBADINI, Le scoperte den codici latini a greci ne' secoli XIV a XV, Firenze, 1905; ID., Niccoli Niccolò, in Enciclopedia Italiana, IV, Roma 1951, 758; M. C. DAVIES, An Emperor without Clothes? Niccolò Niccoli under Attack, L'Italia medioevale a umanistica 30 (1987), 95-148, bibliografia su Niccoli a p. 95, nota 1 e passim. On the establishment of the library of the Niccolis, see ULLMAN-STADTER, Library, 59-194 a la recensione a quest'opera di F. Di BENEDETTO in Studi Medievali 3a serie, XIV (1973), 947-960.

24. Documentazione edita in ULLMAN-STADTER, Library, 295-304.

25. ULLMAN-STADTER, Library, 3-56.

26. ULLMAN-STADTER, Library, 5; L. GARGAN, Gli Umanisti a la biblioteca pubblica, in Le biblioteche net mondo antico a medievale, Roma-Bari 1988, 170-172.

27. Cf. Barberiniana Biblioteca in Enciclopedia Italiana, VI, Milano-Roma 1930, 140; J. BIGNAMI-ODIER, Guide au département des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque du Vatican, Mélanges d'Archéologie et d'Histoire 51 (1934), 223-225; H. DELEHAYE, La Biblioteca Barberiniana, Analecta Bollandiana 19 (1900), 81-118; P. DE' NICCOLO', Profilo storico della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, in Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Firenze 1985. 32-33.

28. R. PALMAROCCHI, Strozzi (Strozza), in Enciclopedia Italiana XXXII; Milano-Roma 1936, 861-862; alcune notizie in A. M. BANDINI, Memorie riguardanti il Collettore della celebre Biblioteca Strozziana, Novelle Letterarie 17 (1886), 38 a ss. (non consultato), citato da E. BLUM, La Biblioteca della Badia Fiorentina e i codici di Antonio Corbinelli (ST 155), Città del Vaticano 1955, 5.

29. P.es. i Barberini gr. 87, 158, 462, 474 a 528.

30. G. MERCATI, Nuove note di letteratura biblica e cristiana antica (ST 95), Città del Vaticano 1941, 81, nota 1.

31. A. DILLER, Notes on the History of the Some Manuscripts of Plato, in ID., Studies in Greek Manuscript Tradition, Amsterdam 1983, 256.

32. J. BIGNAMI-ODIER, La Bibliothèque Vaticane de Sixte IV a Pie XI. Recherche sur l'histoire des collections des manuscrits, avec la collaboration de J. RUYSSCHAERT (ST 272), Città del Vaticano 1973, 115.

33. CANART-PERI, 143-144; BUONOCORE, II, 101-102; CERESA 1, 25-27; FILIAS, Barberinianus; CERESA 2, 244245.

translated by John Wijngaards

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