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A Companion to Bede

A Companion to Bede

George Hardin Brown
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 180
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to Bede
    Book Description:

    The Venerable Bede is a crucial figure for Anglo-Saxonists, arguably the most important, known character from the period. A scholar of international standing from an early period of the Anglo-Saxon church (c.672-732), he was the author not only of the well-known Ecclesiastical History of the English People, but also of scriptural commentaries, hagiographies, scientific works, admonitory letters, and poetry. This book provides an informative, comprehensive, and up-to-date guide to Bede and his writings, underlining in particular his importance in the development of European history and culture. It places Bede in his contemporary Northumbria and early Anglo-Saxon England, dedicates individual chapters to his works, and includes a chapter on Bede's legacy for subsequent history.BR> GEORGE HARDIN BROWN is Professor of English emeritus, Stanford University.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-704-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1 Bede’s Life and Times
    (pp. 1-16)

    Bede stands an eminence on the landscape of the eighth century; there is no other writer comparable. Gregory of Tours in the sixth century and Isidore of Seville and Aldhelm in the seventh century preceded him, and Alcuin of Tours followed at the end of the eighth century, but as a scholar Bede is supreme. In all Europe no contemporary matches his talents and influence. How do we account for Bede’s erudition in a remote region of the North with its limited resources?¹ How is it that he is elevated so quickly to the high status of Father of the...

  6. 2 Educational Works
    (pp. 17-32)

    Bede’s educational manuals tap into the collective heritage of the late Roman, patristic, and early medieval educational tradition.¹ The heritage involves complex issues and attitudes. Many early monastic ascetics were hostile to the educational system inherited from the Romans not only because pagan literature was deemed frequently immoral but also because the arts – such as literature and rhetoric – and the sciences lured the mind away from concentrating on the spiritual realm. Although each of the four great Fathers of the western Church, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory, whose footsteps Bede strove to follow, had received an aristocratic Roman education before...

  7. 3 The Biblical Commentaries
    (pp. 33-72)

    The primary focus of Bede’s life was the study of the Bible and the integration of its lessons to Christian life. All else was subservient to that. He states, “I have spent all my life in this monastery, applying myself entirely to the study of the Scriptures.”¹ The “great mass of books” that Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith had brought from the Continent for the monastery’s fine library furnished the means to accomplish that task.² As a consciously orthodox scholar living in a strongly conservative monastery using a library chosen with great care by the founding abbots, Bede in his biblical...

  8. 4 Homilies, Hagiography, Martyrology, Poems, Letters
    (pp. 73-94)

    These popular medieval genres, once of little modern interest except to specialists, have elicited a good deal of study in recent years, and Bede’s extensive contributions to the genres, like his other works, have also generated considerable attention.

    “Homilies on the Gospel: two books” (HE, V. 24); Beda,Opera homiletica,CCSL 122, pp. 1–378; Bede,Homilies on the Gospels,trans. Lawrence T. Martin and David Hurst (1991).

    For Bede, preaching that teaches the meaning of Scripture, correct theological understanding, and moral rectitude has a special, even sacramental, significance. Preachers are the successors of the prophets and apostles. In his...

  9. 5 The Histories
    (pp. 95-116)

    Bede is known today principally as an historian, although throughout the Middle Ages he was renowned as a biblical interpreter and indeed spent most of his career commenting voluminously on Scripture. If medieval biblical exegesis owes much to his copious analyses, his exegetical works are only a portion of the hundreds of extant patristic and medieval commentaries. His histories, on the other hand, particularlyThe Ecclesiastical History of the English People,are unique. Without them whole centuries of early English history would be blank. And they are not only unique, they represent the highest quality writing of the period. These...

  10. 6 A Brief History of Bede’s Works through the Ages
    (pp. 117-134)

    From the time of Bede’s death in the eighth century until the present, his widely disseminated works have been read, studied, cited, and analyzed, but in each age in a different way and with different purposes and emphases.¹ In general, history has been remarkably kind to Bede’s writings as to him, even if not all of his works have received the same attention in each age.

    Although Bede says at the end of theEcclesiastical Historythat he wrote for his own benefit and for that of his monastic brothers, it is clear from his practice of sending out his...

  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 135-154)
  12. Index of Bede’s Works
    (pp. 155-156)
  13. General Index
    (pp. 157-168)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 169-171)