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Manus Bedae: Bede's contribution to Ceolfrith's bibles

  • Richard Marsden (a1)

Bede entered Wearmouth–Jarrow at the age of seven and thereafter, he tells us at the conclusion of his Historia ecclesiastica, spent all his life ‘applying myself entirely to the study of the Scriptures’. He goes on, ‘From the time I became a priest until the fifty-ninth year of my life I have made it my business, for my own benefit and that of my brothers, to make brief extracts from the works of the venerable fathers on the holy scriptures, or to add notes of my own to clarify their sense and interpretation.’ Bede's modest remarks preface an impressive list of his own works, which includes commentaries on Genesis, I Samuel, Kings, Proverbs, the Prophets, Mark, Luke, Acts and Revelation, and many other exegetical, didactic and historical volumes. Installed at Jarrow from about 679 until his death in 735, he contributed more than anyone to the intellectual distinction of early-eighth-century Northumbria. At the same time, the twin house of Wearmouth–Jarrow was winning lasting renown for the products of its scriptorium (or scriptoria). Not least among these were the three great Vulgate bible pandects which Abbot Ceolfrith caused to be made, an achievement celebrated by the chroniclers of the house, who included Bede himself. One of these pandects, which we know today as the Codex Amiatinus, was dispatched to St Peter's in Rome in 716, then spent more than 900 years at Monte Amiata in the Appenines, and is now in Florence (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Amiatino 1). The other two were for use in the Wearmouth and Jarrow churches. One of these has been lost without trace, but the second survived in the cathedral priory of Worcester until the sixteenth century, when an entrepreneurial Nottinghamshire family made use of some of its torn-out leaves as document wrappers. Twelve of these, with some fragments of a thirteenth, are now in the British Library under three different shelfmarks (Loan 81, Add. 37777 and Add. 45025).

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1 V.24: ‘[C]unctumque ex eo tempus uitae in eiusdem monasterii habitatione peragens, omnem meditandis scripturis operam dedi … Ex quo tempore accepti presbyteratus usque ad annum aetatis meae lviiii haec in Scripturam sanctam meae meorumque necessitati ex opusculis uenerabilium patrum breuiter adnotare, siue etiam ad formam sensus et interpretationis eorum superadicere curaui’ (Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. Colgrave, B. and Mynors, R. A. B. (Oxford, 1969), pp. 566–7).

2 See Bede's, Historia abbatum, ch. 15, in Venerabilis Baedae Opera Historica, ed. Plummer, C., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1896) I, 364–87, at 379–80, and the anonymous Vita S. Ceolfridi, ch. 20 (ibid. I, 388–404, at 395).

3 On the pandects, see Marsden, R., The Text of the Old Testament in Anglo-Saxon England, CSASE 15 (Cambridge, 1995), 85106.

4 See Chapman, J., ‘The Families of Vulgate Manuscripts in the Pentateuch’, RB 37 (1925), 546 and 365403, at 366; Meyvaert, P., ‘Bede the Scholar’, Famulus Christi: Essays in Commemoration of the Thirteenth Centenary of the Birth of the Venerable Bede, ed. Bonner, G. (London, 1976), pp. 4069, at 50; and Marsden, , The Text, pp. 202–6.

5 Bede, Cassiodorus, and the Codex Amiatinus’, Speculum 71 (1996), 827–83.

6 Ibid. p. 841, n. 75.

7 I present the arguments in The Text, pp. 98106.

8 Blair, P. Hunter, The World of Bede, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1990), p. 5.

9 Marsden, , The Text, pp. 190201.

10 For a discussion of Bede's use of the Bible, see ibid. pp. 202–19.

11 See Laistner, M. L. W., ‘The Library of the Venerable Bede’, in his The Intellectual Heritage of the Early Middle Ages: Selected Essays by M. L. W. Laistner, ed. Starr, C. G. (Ithaca, NY, 1957), pp. 117–49.

12 Marsden, , The Text, p. 11.

13 In Vulgate citations below, my authority for the Old Testament text is Biblia Sacra iuxta latinam vulgatam versionem ad codicum fidem, cura et studio monachorum Abbatiae pontificiae Sancti Hieronymi in Urbe O. S. B. edita, ed. Quentin, H. et al. , 18 vols. (Rome, 19261995); Sirach is in Biblia Sacra XII. For the New Testament, I use Nouum Testamentum Domini nostri Iesu Christi latine, ed. Wordsworth, J. and White, H. J., 3 vols. (Oxford, 18891954). Old Latin citations in Genesis and Sirach are from Vetus Latina: Die Reste der altlateinischen Bibel nach Petrus Sabatier neu gesammelt und herausgegeben von der Erzabtei Beuron (Freiburg, 1949–): IIGenesis, ed. Fischer, B. (19511954) and XI.2 Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), ed. Thiele, W. (1987–). Greek scriptural citations are from Septuaginta. Id est Vetus Testamentum graece iuxta LXX interpretes, ed. Rahlfs, A., 2 vols. (Stuttgart, 1982). English translations of the Vulgate are given in the Douai-Reims version, sometimes emended. Other translations are my own, unless otherwise stated.

14 De temporum ratione, ed. Jones, C. W., CCSL 123B (Turnhout, 1977), 363 (ch. xxviii); Hexameron, ed. Schenkl, C., CSEL 32.1 (Vienna, 1897), 134 (IV.7). The dates I give for Bede's works, usually without further comment, are those suggested by Plummer, in Baedae Opera, pp. cxlv–clix, sometimes modified by the most recent editors of the works in question.

15 Gregory, , Moralta siue expositio in Iob, ed. Adriaen, M., CCSL 143B (Turnhout, 1985), 1497 (XXX.3); Bede, , In Proverbia Salomonis, ed. Hurst, D., CCSL 119B (Turnhout, 1983), 146 (ch. iii). Theoretically, Bede's copy of Gregory could have had the variant verb, but it is in none of the manuscripts collated by Adriaen for his edition.

16 Expositio mystica in parabolas Salomonis et in Ecclesiasten (PL 53, 967–95, at 988). On Bede and Salonius, see Laistner, , ‘The Library’, pp. 136–8.

17 Baedae Opera, ed. Plummer, I, 372; on the dating of the work, see p. cxlviii.

18 In Lucam, ed. Hurst, D., CCSL 120 (Turnhout, 1960), 381 (VI.22); Regula pastoralis 11.6 (Grégoire le Grand: Règle pastorale, ed. Judic, B., Rommel, F. and Morel, C., 2 vols., Sources chrétiennes 381–2 (Paris, 1992) I, 212).

19 In Proverbia Salomonis, ed. Hurst, , p. 193.

20 Retractatio in Actus apostolorum, ed. Laistner, M. L. W., CCSL 121 (Turnhout, 1983), 116–17.

21 In Genesim, ed. Jones, C. W., CCSL 118A (Turnhout, 1967), 200 (ch. iv); on the complex dating problems of this work, see Jones's discussion, pp. vi–x; Hebraice quaestiones in libro Geneseos, ed. de Lagarde, P., CCSL 72 (Turnhout, 1959), 20 (XVI.7). On the wide variety of other versions of this passage, see my The Text, p. 210 and n. 41, and Vetus Latina II, 181.

22 See Vetus Latina II, 181–2, and Biblia Sacra I, 202.

23 See Quentin, H., Mémoire sur l' établissement du texte de la Vulgate. Première partie, Octateuque, Collectanea Biblica Latina 6 (Rome, 1922), 473–5; Rand, E. K., ‘Dom Quentin's Memoir on the Text of the Vulgate’, Harvard Theol. Rev. 17 (1924), 197264, at 257; and Marsden, , The Text, p. 210 and n. 41.

24 Ed. de Lagarde, P., in his Onomastica sacra (Göttingen, 1887); see pp. 150, 156 and 180–1, and cf. Laistner, , ‘The Library’, p. 130.

25 In Genesim, ed. Jones, , p. 60 (I).

26 De Genesis ad litteram, ed. Zycha, J., CSEL 28.1 (Vienna, 1894), 332 and 362 (XI. 1 and 30) and De Genesi contra Manichaeos II.xxvi (PL 34, 217); and De sancto Athanasio, ed. Diercks, G. F., CCSL 8 (Turnhout, 1978), 128 (II.xxxii).

27 In Proverbia Salomonis, ed. Hurst, .p. 51.

28 My own fallibility as a copyist allowed the rather surprising ‘grauissima’ to appear for ‘gratissima’ in a previous discussion of this passage (The Text, pp. 115 and 212).

29 In Genesim, ed. Jones, , p. 111.

30 See Chapman, , ‘Families’, p. 366, and cf. Marsden, , The Text, p. 203.

31 In Ezram et Neemiam, ed. Hurst, D., CCSL 119A (Turnhout, 1969), 254 (ch. i).

32 In Proverbia Salomonis, ed. Hurst, , pp. 6, 9, 11 and 17.

33 The Text, pp. 171–9.

34 Ibid. pp. 232–5.

35 See my The Survival of Ceolfrith's Tobit in a Tenth-Century Insular Manuscript’, JTS 45 (1994), 123 and The Text, pp. 179–81.

36 The Text, p. 176.

37 Ibid. pp. 158–63. The text of Psalms, which follows Jerome's ‘Hebrew’ version, is also problematical in Amiatinus, being apparently an emended version of a poor Irish text; see Fischer, B., Lateinische Bibelhandschriften im frühen Mittelalter, Vetus Latina: Aus der Geschichte der latenischen Bibel 11 (Freiburg, 1985), 32 and Marsden, , The Text, p. 141.

38 The Latin Versions of Acts known to the Venerable Bede’, in his Intellectual Heritage, pp. 150–64.

39 Expositio Actuum apostolorum, ed. Laistner, , CCSL 121 (Turnhout, 1983), 399 and Retractatio in Actus apostolorum, ed. Laistner, , pp. 103–63. The dating of the Expositio is Plummer's (Baedae Opera I, cxlvii).

40 Paul Meyvaert's observation that Bede's preface to Romans seems to derive from the prologus Hilarii in the Book of Armagh offers further confirmation that Bede had an Irish text to hand; see Bede's capitula lectionum for the Old and New Testaments,’, RB 150 (1995), 348–80, at 378.

41 See Laistner, , ‘The Latin Versions’, pp. 157–9, and Meyvaert, P., ‘Bede and the Church Paintings at Wearmouth–Jarrow’. ASE 8 (1979), 6377, at 77.

42 Retractatio, ed. Laistner, , p. 116: ‘Some codices have dicit dominus but the Greek exemplars, both in this book and in the psalter, have dixit dominus.’ Bede's allusion is to Ps. CIX.1.

43 Retractatio, ed. Laistner, , p. 131.

44 ‘Bede the Scholar’, p. 48.

45 Freeman, A., ‘Further Studies in the Libri Carolint’, Speculum 40 (1965), 203–89, at 281.

46 The Place of Wearmouth and Jarrow in Western Cultural History, Jarrow Lecture 1968 (Jarrow, 1969), p. 7.

47 See Dahlhaus-Berg, E., Noua antiquitas et antigua nouitas. Typologische Exegese und isidorianisches Geschichtsbild bei Theodulf von Orléans, Kölner historische Abhandlungen 23 (Cologne and Vienna, 1975), 3961; Fischer, , Lateinische Bibelhandschriften, pp. 94–6 and 135–47; and Marsden, , The Text, pp. 1922.

48 Dionisotti, A. C., ‘On Bede, Grammars, and Greek’, RB 92 (1982), 111–41, at 128–9.

49 See Plummer, , in his introduction to Baedae Opera I, lvi and n. 3.

50 In Ezram et Neemiam, ed. Hurst, , p. 256.

51 Retractatio, ed. Laistner, , p. 109 (II.1). See Meyvaert, , ‘Bede the Scholar’, p. 49.

52 In Canticum Abacuc, ed. Hudson, J. E., CCSL 119B (Turnhout, 1983) 381409. On Bede's promotion of the Old Latin versions of the canticles, see Schneider, H., Die altlateinischen biblischen Cantica, Texte und Arbeiten 2930 (Beuron, 1938), 47–8.

53 Baedae Opera I, p. lv, n. 1.

54 See my The Text, p. 215.

55 Retractatio, ed. Laistner, , p. 103; Meyvaert's, translation, ‘Bede the Scholar’, p. 50.

56 See above, p. 73.

57 See Vetus Latina II, 119–20 and Biblia Sacra I, 169.

58 Hebraice quaestiones, ed. de Lagarde, , p. 10. He uses a different Old Latin version, not the one which reached the Vulgate; thus: ‘Et de coruo aliter dicitur “emisit coruum et egressus est exiens et reuertens”.’ In the same place, Jerome notes a variation between what is in the Hebrew and the Latin earlier in the verse, but he does not seem to attribute the positive version of the raven's activities to the Hebrew.

59 In Iohannis euangelium tractatus, ed. Willems, R., CCSL 36 (Turnhout, 1954), 63–4 (VI.19) and Quaestiones in Heptateuchum, ed. Fraipont, J., CCSL 33 (Turnhout, 1958), 5 (I.13).

60 PL 83, 233. For a very useful account of patristic treatments of the raven, see Gatch, M. McC., ‘Noah's Raven in Genesis A and the Illustrated Old English Heptateuch’, Gesta 14.2 (1975), 315, at 46.

61 In Genesim II: ‘… cuius egressui atque itineri recte comparantur hi qui sacramentis quidem celestibus institui atque imbuti sunt, nec tamen nigredinem terrenae oblectationis exuentes, lata podus mundi itinera quam ecclesiasticae conuersationis claustra diligunt’ (ed. Jones, , p. 123).

62 Homeliae II, ed. Hurst, , CCSL 119A (Turnhout, 1969), 69 and I.12, ed. Hurst, , CCSL 122 (Turnhout, 1955), 87, respectively.

63 On the dating, see Jones's, discussion, In Genesim, ed. Jones, , pp. vi–x.

64 The Text, p. 204.

65 Meyvaert, , ‘Bede the Scholar’, p. 49 and n. 39.

66 See James, M. R., ‘The Manuscripts of Bede’, Bede: his Life, Times and Writings, ed. Thompson, A. H. (Oxford, 1935), pp. 230–6.

67 See Meyvaert, P., ‘The Bede Signature in the Leningrad Colophon’, RB 71 (1961), 274–86.

68 Some Notes on English Uncial’, Traditio 17 (1961), 441–56, at 443 and 452. I suggest examples in The Text, p. 185.

69 The Text, pp. 195–9. My previous conviction (p. 195) that suis in III Kings XI.43, on Add. 37777, was added by a corrector has weakened after a recent reappraisal of the manuscript.

70 But ὡς is absent from Origen's recension.

71 De Athanasio (I.xx): ‘et ascendit Helias in commotionem quasi in caelum’ (ed. Diercks, , p. 36). This is the only Old Latin citation noted by Sabatier, P., Bibliorum Sacrorum latinae uersiones antiquae seu uetus Italica, 3 vols. (Rheims, 17431709) I, 598–9.

72 He does not seem to cite II.1 specifically anywhere.

73 De temporum ratione, ed. Jones, , p. 477 (ch. lxvi): ‘Elijah was snatched away in a fiery chariot, as though into heaven”. On the dating, which is known from internal evidence, see Jones's, introduction, p. 241.

74 Homeliae 11.15 (ed. Hurst, , p. 287, my emphasis): ‘And as they continued to converse together, behold: snatched away suddenly in a fiery chariot, as scripture says, “Elijah ascended as though into heaven”. By this upwards flight it is made known that Elijah was not taken up to heaven itself, as our Lord was, but into the upper atmosphere, whence he was carried invisibly to the joys of paradise.’ On the dating, see Hurst, , p. vii.

75 Acts I.10–11: ‘And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments, who also said: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven”.’

76 Expositio, ed. Laistner, , p. 9 (my emphasis): ‘The angels appeared to them for two reasons, namely to console them for the sadness of his ascension by reminding them of his return and to show that he had truly gone to heaven and not, like Elijah, as though to heaven.’

77 On Bede's knowledge of Ambrose, see Laistner, , ‘The Library’, pp. 145–6.

78 Expositio, ed. Schenkl, C., CSEL 32.4 (Vienna, 1897), 274 (VI.96); cf. Phil. II.6: ‘But Christ was not Elijah; the one was snatched away, the other will return; the one was snatched away, the other “thought it not robbery to be equal with God”.’

79 De fide, ed. Faller, O., CSEL 78 (Vienna, 1962), 160 (IV.1,8); cf. John III.13: ‘Enoch was carried off, Elijah snatched away, but “the servant is not above his master”; for “none hath ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven” … Therefore Enoch was carried off, Elijah snatched away, both as servants, both in the body – but not after resurrection, nor with the spoils of death and the triumph of the cross, had angels seen them.’

80 In ascensione Domini: ‘we rædað on ðære ealdan æ þæt twegen godes men. henoh. and helias wæron ahafene to heofonum butan deaðe. ac hi elcyað ongean þam deaðe. and mid calle ne forfleoð; Hi sind genumene to lyftenre heofenan: na to rodorlicere. ac drohtniað on sumum diglum earde mid micelre strencðe lichaman and sawle. oð ðæt hi eft ongean cyrron on ende þisre worulde togeanes antecriste. and deaðes onfoð (Ælfric's Catholic Homilies: The First Series. Text, ed. Clemoes, P., EETS ss 17 (Oxford, 1997), 352).

81 κα⋯ ⋯πάταξεν τό ὓδωρ καί διέατη. The addition is lacking in the fourth-century Vaticanus and the fifth-century Alexandrinus manuscripts of the Greek Bible, however.

82 See Robinson, J., The Second Book of Kings (Cambridge, 1976), pp. 26–7.

83 Some manuscripts have quae non sunt diuisae’; see Biblia Sacra VI, 215–16.

84 Dialogi, I, ii, 7 (Grégoire le Grand: Dialogues, ed. de Vogüé, A., 3 vols., Sources chrétiennes 251, 260 and 265 (Paris, 1978–80) II, 30; my emphasis): ‘Just as Heliseus, coming to the Jordan and taking his master's cloak, struck the first time, but the waters did not divide. But as soon as he had said, “Where is now the God of Elijah?”, he struck the river with his master's cloak and made a path through the waters.’ The only other church writer I have noted as using the expanded version of IV Kings II.14 is Hrabanus Maurus, in the ninth century, who cites the verse in his Commentarius in Regibus IV.2 (PL 109, 224).

85 Laistner, , ‘The Library’, p. 129; and see also p. 147.

86 Marsden, , The Text, pp. 130–2; and on Bede's direct use of Greek scripture, see Laistner, , ‘The Library’, p. 140.

87 I acknowledge the generous input of George Hardin Brown and Paul Meyvaert during the preparation of this article, which began as a paper given at a conference on ‘The Golden Age of Northumbria’ at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. July 1996.

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