Opuscula sacra

  • Latin
  • prose, verse
  • Non-Celtic texts
Collective title for short theological treatises by Boethius: 1. De trinitate; 2. Utrum pater et filius et spiritus sanctus de divinitate substantialiter praedicentur; 3. Quomodo substantiae or De hebdomadibus; 4. De fide catholica; 5. Contra Eutychen et Nestorium.
(d. 524)
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, a Roman senator, statesman, philosopher and historian. His best known work may be De consolatione philosophiae, which he wrote in prison after running into conflict at the Ostrogothic court. Others include De topicis differentiis, De institutione arithmetica, De institutione musica and five theological treatises known collectively as the Opuscula sacra.

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  • Latin
c.513 (?) x 523 AD
prose, verse (primary)


Non-Celtic textsNon-Celtic texts


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Moreschini, Claudio, Boethius: De consolatione philosophiae; Opuscula theologica, 2nd ed., Bibliotheca Teubneriana, Munich, Leipzig: K. G. Saur, 2005.  
Critical edition of Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae, with introduction and notes in Latin; additionally includes Opuscula sacra

Secondary sources (select)

Erismann, Christophe, “The medieval fortunes of the Opuscula sacra”, in: John Marenbon (ed.), The Cambridge companion to Boethius, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 155–178.  
Boethius wrote five treatises of Christian theology grouped under the title Opuscula sacra. At least three of them - among which the two most important ones, the De Trinitate (OS I) and the Contra Eutychen et Nestorium (OS V) - deal with Trinitarian or Christological issues. These treatises came to take a central part in medieval thought and had a surprisingly wide influence upon it. During the Middle Ages, the danger of heresies was a less urgent topic than it had been during the first centuries of Christianity, a time marked by frequent doctrinal disputes. Arius and Nestorius were no longer a danger for a now established dogma and, in the Latin West, the Church was unified. In consequence, the Opuscula sacra were no longer topical because of their rooting in doctrinal controversies; they appeared less as a display of militant strength in the struggle of orthodoxy against heresy. Once transferred into the intellectual context of the medieval Latin West, they took on a new life, distant from the task of defending Christian dogma, but central to philosophical thought. From the beginning of the Middle Ages onwards, the influence of the Opuscula sacra reached beyond dogmatic theology, into the fields of logic, ontology and metaphysics. For 400 years, from the ninth to the twelfth centuries, the Opuscula were among the reference texts of philosophers, beside Aristotle's Categories (or its paraphrase, the Categoriae decem) and Peri hermeneias, and Porphyry’s Isagoge.
(source: CUP)
comments: Discussion touches on John Scottus Eriugena and glosses on Boethius attributed to John.
Dennis Groenewegen
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August 2015, last updated: January 2024