Article

The Venerable Bede

Rosalind C. Love

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online December 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0005
The Venerable Bede

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  • medieval and Renaissance history (500 to 1500)
  • literary studies (early and medieval)
  • medieval and Renaissance philosophy
  • Byzantine and medieval art (500 CE to 1400)
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Of all the writers from the Anglo-Saxon period, Bede must rate as the best known and perhaps the most prolific. Given into the monastery of Wearmouth at the age of seven, he was later moved to Jarrow, where he benefited from the uniquely well-stocked library the founding abbots of his community, Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrid, had built up. He dedicated himself to teaching and writing, and his principal focus was on expounding the scriptures, as the large number of surviving biblical commentaries from his hand bear witness, and then on providing ancillary tools for interpretation of the scriptures. His didactic concerns are also reflected in his works on orthography, meter, time reckoning, and natural history. He also made a significant contribution to the first beginnings of hagiography in England with his twinned Lives of St. Cuthbert, his reworkings of earlier lives of two Continental saints (Felix and Anastasius), and his remarkable historical martyrology, which laid the groundwork for all later martyrologies. Although it would not necessarily have been the way Bede himself would wish to be remembered, later generations, including the present one, connect him most particularly with his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, composed in imitation of the earlier Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius to record the establishment and spread of Christianity in England and at least in part to bring the core values that ensured the Church’s sure foundation to the attention of his contemporaries. As inheritor of the rich diet of Christian and classical learning he found in the library at Wearmouth-Jarrow, Bede, in seeking to make that learning accessible in his own day, stands at a kind of boundary between the world of late Antiquity and the church fathers, on the one hand, and the medieval world, on the other. His acute mind and his diligence ensured him a place among the fathers and a lasting reputation.

Article.  19265 words. 

Subjects: medieval and Renaissance history (500 to 1500) ; literary studies (early and medieval) ; medieval and Renaissance philosophy ; Byzantine and medieval art (500 CE to 1400) ; medieval and Anglo-Saxon archaeology

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