The Varieties of Bede’s Prose

Richard Sharpe

in Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263327
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734168 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Varieties of Bede’s Prose

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Bede’s reputation has never stood higher than today. The range of his writings is considerable. Bede composed Latin verse, the climax of secondary school education. His language has been little discussed but often praised. A recent discussion of Bede’s prose takes a statistical approach to five sample passages taken from the Historia ecclesiastica and from two of the homilies; not a single Latin sentence is quoted, and no distinctions are made between the language of the different works. Real analysis of his prose concentrates on the biblical works, which vary substantially from one another. There are two distinct agendas for study here, one focusing on the language of biblical exegesis in Latin, particularly in late antiquity, the other concerning the development of Bede’s own work in this genre. The chapter then reviews the preliminary problems that help to explain why reading the more complex of Bede’s exegetical works is so much more difficult than reading his historical prose.

Keywords: Bede; prose; writings; language; Latin verse; reading; biblical exegesis

Chapter.  8047 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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