BMCR 2007.09.32

Katalog der griechischen Handschriften des Athosklosters Vatopedi. Band 1. Codices 1-102

, Katalog der griechischen Handschriften des Athosklosters Vatopedi / 1 Codices 1-102.. Katalogoi Hellēnikōn cheirographōn Hagiu Orus ; 2. Thessaloniki: Patriarchikon Idryma Paterikōn Meletōn, 2006. 508 Seiten + CD-ROM (12 cm).. ISBN 9608062136

In the foreword to this volume, the Abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos states that its library consists of 2,074 manuscripts. Just over three-quarters of these appear in the catalogue of Arkadios and Eustratiades, published in 1924.1 The one hundred and two manuscripts described in the work under review may seem a paltry figure beside these totals, but this first installment of a highly detailed catalogue will prove to be an indispensable work of reference on these documents whose location precludes any casual visit. Furthermore, the inclusion of a CD with 374 high-quality colour digital images greatly enhances the publication as it not only exemplifies the information in the printed text but also provides samples of each copyist’s handwriting and techniques of illustration in the manuscripts. This alone is a welcome resource for palaeographers and codicologists, and opens up the collection for further research.

No one is better qualified to catalogue the manuscripts of this monastery than Lamberz, who has been working on this project since 1970. This volume is the second in the series Καταλόγοι Ἑλληνικῶν Χειρογραφῶν Ἁγίου Ὄρους (Catalogi Codicum Graecorum Montis Athonis), following Lamberz’s collaboration with Litsas on the library of St Demetrios, a skete of Vatopedi, published in 1978. After a brief introduction explaining the history of the undertaking and the format of each entry, the majority of the volume (380 pages) is given over to the list of manuscripts. This is followed by a thirty-two page index of incipits of unedited or lesser-known works, and a fifty-eight page index of authors and topics.

There are three parts to each entry, based on Hunger’s catalogue of Viennese manuscripts (with minor modifications). On the first line, a summary is given of date, material, dimensions, number of pages, columns and lines per page. The content of the codex is then listed, with a careful hierarchy of Greek, Latin and German titles depending on the degree to which the exemplar corresponds to printed editions. Folio or page numbers are abundantly provided, along with incipits and details of printed editions. The final section contains detailed codicological information under twelve headings, including damage to the manuscript, the scheme of line division (based on the Leroy-Sautel classification), watermarks on paper codices, scribal hands, binding, colophons, and secondary literature. The illustrations on the CD are also listed, although the exact location of each image only appears in a table at the back of the book and in the filename itself.

The one hundred and two manuscripts listed comprise patristic works, florilegia and hagiography. Lamberz follows the current numeration, which differs slightly from those cited in earlier studies; a concordance of these classifications is provided as an appendix. There is a fairly equal distribution between parchment and paper codices: the former date from the tenth to the twelfth centuries, while the latter extend over six hundred years (Vatop. 98 is dated to 1842). Only two palimpsests contain writing which is definitely from the first millennium: their eighth-century texts of Chrysostom and Jeremiah were overwritten four centuries later with scriptural commentaries (Vatop. 18 and 19). Otherwise, the oldest codex seems to be Vatop. 84, a collection of hagiographies for saints commemorated between May and August, which may be as early as the end of the ninth century.

Three of the manuscripts are devoted to Athanasius of Alexandria, while no fewer than sixteen contain homilies and letters of Basil the Great. Among other patristic works, Vatop. 17 is an important copy of the Commentary on Revelation by Andreas of Caesarea (which Lamberz dates to the end of the eleventh century, contra Gregory/Aland), Vatop. 2 features the Questions and Answers of Barsanuphius and John, and Vatop. 36, 38 and 57 transmit writings by Maximus the Confessor. There are also two copies of Maximus Planudes’ translation of Augustine’s De Trinitate (Vatop. 27 and 28). Classicists will be interested in Vatop. 33, a glossed copy of Aristophanes ( Plutus and Clouds), Sophocles ( Ajax and Electra) and Aeschylus ( Prometheus Bound and Seven Against Thebes) from the second quarter of the sixteenth century. A parchment florilegium from five centuries earlier includes extracts from Homer, Sophocles and Euripides (Vatop. 36). Several late manuscripts feature commentaries on ancient texts (e.g. Korydaleus on Aristotle, Vatop. 20 and 44). There are also works on arithmetic and geography (Vatop. 45), and a medical treatise by Aetius Amidenus (Vatop. 29).

Lamberz is scrupulous about providing references to Migne and later editions, which are impressively up-to-date (e.g. the 2006 edition of Athanasius’ apologetic works). BHG and CPG numbers are also given where available. The careful identification of items which have never been edited further increases one’s admiration for the cataloguer’s thoroughness. A number of these represent the only surviving copy of the work, including three probable autographs: the theological writings of Konstantinos Asanes (Vatop. 32, from around 1405), the paraphrases of Gregorios Kallierges (Vatop. 47, dated to 1763), and the four volumes of the Dogmatics of Vikentios Damodos, filling over three thousand pages (Vatop. 99-102, mid eighteenth-century). Future editors will find their task greatly simplified by the information presented in this catalogue. The provenance of the majority of these manuscripts is uncertain, although several can be located on Mount Athos or Vatopedi itself. Special mention is made of three manuscripts owned by the Emperor John VI Cantacuzene (Vatop. 5, 6, 65), the Barsanuphius codex which originated in Constantinople (Vatop. 2) and one of the Planudes translations from Peyra (Vatop. 27).

Not only is this volume superbly detailed, but it is well presented and appears to be reliable. The layout is clear and easy to use: my only slight reservation is that although separate authors within a manuscript are clearly identified by numbered and indented paragraphs, multiple works by the same author are introduced by a small superscript number which is occasionally difficult to distinguish, especially when the previous paragraph finishes at the end of a line (e.g. throughout Vatop. 33). Comparison of the list of incipits and the indices with the main text has not revealed any inconsistencies, although the choice of terms for the principal index is sometimes debatable. For example, Vatop. 45 is devoted to two treatises on Arithmetic and Geography but neither of these words appears in the index: instead, an entry for “Mathematik” sends the reader to “Anonyme Texte”, where the “Lehrbuch der Arithmetik” and “Lehrbuch der Geometrie” can be found under “L”. (Incidentally, this perpetuates an error in the editorial title of this manuscript, where “Geometrie” is found in place of “Geographie”.) By contrast, Astrology and Astronomy have their own place in the index. Furthermore, although this is an Author and Subject Index, it includes several long and useful entries which might be better situated as separate appendices, such as the five-page lists of BHG and CPG numbers (under “BHG” and “CPG”), or the chronological order of the manuscripts (hidden under “Handschriften”). Pictures on the CD corroborate the details in the printed volume. They are presented in the format of secure Adobe Acrobat PDFs which cannot be copied or printed. As this software can be downloaded free of charge, users should have no problem with viewing the images, although Acrobat Reader 5 or later is required. The resolution is excellent. For such a complex and technical volume, the number of typographical errors is almost negligible.2

In conclusion, we must salute the painstaking work of Lamberz in often adverse conditions over the last three decades. A catalogue of this detail and quality is unlikely to be superseded, and deserves a place on the shelves of every major research library. Let us hope that the remaining volumes for the Vatopedi library appear soon and that other institutions take this project as a model, especially in the provision of high-quality digital images which are vital in making the collection available to scholars worldwide.


1. Arkadios Batopedinos — S. Eustratiades, Κατάλογος τῶν ἐν τῇ Ἱερᾷ Μονῇ Βατοπεδίου ἀποκειμένων κωδίκων, Paris 1924 = Catalogue of the Greek Manuscripts in the Library of the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mt. Athos (Harvard Theological Studies 11), Cambridge 1924. Lamberz notes that this is often referred to solely by the name of Eustratiades, although Arkadios was the original compiler.

2. I noticed “Miscallenea” for “Miscellanea” on page 36, “Geometrie” for “Geographie” on pages 207 and 445 as mentioned above, “Qualitiät” for “Qualität” on page 344. Incidentally, although page 35 cites the opening of folio 25r of Vatop. 2 as ] αντό τινες, image 7 on the CD shows that an initial nu is clearly visible (thus ] ναντό τινες).