Working in conjunction with another European Research Council-funded project, the ERC PLATINUM Project at the University of Naples, Professor Hugh Houghton, the Principal Investigator of the CATENA Project has identified the text on two fragments from a sixth-century manuscript of the works of Augustine of Hippo.

The manuscript is held by Cambridge University Library, who acquired it in 1899. The original parchment had been overwritten with a set of Masoretic lists in Hebrew in the ninth or tenth century, and was found in the Cairo Genizah. The largest fragments had already been identified by F.C. Burkitt as preserving portions of De sermone domini in monte (On the Sermon on the Mount) and Sermon 118. In May 2007, Dr Ben Outhwaite, Head of the Genizah Unit in Cambridge, identified another fragment as a piece from De sermone domini in monte.

Last year, Professor Houghton accepted an invitation from Professor Maria Chiara Scappaticcio, Principal Investigator of the PLATINUM project, to edit a set of Latin Christian texts designated as papyri, which included these fragments. Professor Houghton was already collaborating with Cambridge University Library on the palimpsest Codex Zacynthius project. By examining high-resolution digital images of the fragments, he was able to identify them as preserving text from two further works by Augustine, the Contra sermonem Arrianorum (Against the Sermon of the Arians) and the augmented version of Sermon 225. The latter was only possible due to the publication of the first-ever edition of Sermo 225 auct. by Clemens Weidmann in 2015. 


One of the fragments

Remarkably, these fragments both constitute the earliest surviving evidence for both of these works - by around 300 years in the case of Contra Sermonem Arrianorum, and by an extraordinary six centuries in the case of Sermo 225 auct., which is only otherwise preserved in manuscripts of the twelfth century. In an Open Access article recently published in the journal Sacris Erudiri, which provides the full text of these new fragments, Professor Houghton notes that the discovery of two more works from this sixth-century manuscript enables us to characterise it as an omnibus edition, bringing together several of Augustine's works written against the Arian heresy.