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Translated Texts for Historians #58: Bede: Commentary on Revelationby Faith Wallis
Synopses & Reviews
The Commentary on Revelation is Bede's first venture into Biblical exegesis — an ambitious choice for a young monastic scholar in a newly Christianized land. Its subject matter — the climax of the great story of creation and redemption, of history and of time itself — adds to the Commentary's intrinsic importance, for these themes lie at the heart of Bede's concerns and of his achievement as a historian, exegete, scholar, and preacher. But Bede was also a man of his age. When he penned the Commentary around 703, speculation and anxiety about the end of the world was in the air. According to conventional chronology, almost 6000 years had passed since creation. If for God -one day... is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day' (2 Peter 3:8), the world was destined to last six millennia, corresponding to the six days of creation. The end, then, was close. Bede vigorously opposed the temptation to calculate the time of the end. The Commentary argues that Revelation is not a literal prophecy, but a symbolic reflection on the perennial struggle of the Church in this world. At the same time, the young Bede is starting to shape his own account of how the end-times would unfold. This translation, prefaced by a substantial Introduction, will be of interest to students of medieval religious and cultural history, of Anglo-Saxon England, and of the history of Biblical exegesis in the Middle Ages.
Commentary on Revelation was Bede’s first venture into Biblical exegesis—an ambitious choice for a young monastic scholar in a newly Christianized land. Interpreting the themes of creation, redemption, history, and time itself, it offers an early look at what would become some of Bede’s primary concerns. It is also a fascinating look at the way apocalyptic thinking was negotiated. Written around 703 CE, it addresses the widespread belief of the period that the end of times was near, offering a powerful counterargument that scholars should interpret Revelations as symbolically representing the struggle of the Church, rather than use it to attempt to calculate the date of the apocalypse. Offering a substantial introduction, this translation provides valuable insights for anyone interested in biblical interpretations during the Middle Ages.
About the Author
Faith Wallis is Associate Professor in the Department of History at McGill University, Montreal.
Table of Contents
1. Bede and the Latin Tradition of Exegesis of Revelation
1.1 The Roots of Bede's Major Exegetical Theme
1.2 Victorinus of Pettau
1.3 Apocalyptic Retreats and Revivals in the Fourth Century
1.5 The Tyconian Tradition from Augustine to the End of the
2. Bede's Immediate Sources and How He Used Them
2.1 'Commaticum interpretandi genus'
2.2 A Mosaic of Quotations
2.3 Reconstructing Bede's Use of Tyconius
2.4 The Occlusion of Primasius
2.5 Did Bede Read Caesarius?
2.6 Bede's Borrowings from Augustine
2.7 Bede Reads Jerome and Gregory
2.8 Was Bede's Exegesis Influenced by Visual Sources?
2.9 Bede and the Text of the Bible
3. Date and Circumstances of Composition
3.1 The Significance of the Date of Composition
3.2 The Commentary on Revelation and the Preface to the Commentary on Acts
3.3 Obstrepentes causae?
3.4 An Apocalyptic Eighth Century?
4. Shape and Style of the Commentary on Revelation
4.1 The Poem of Bede the Priest
4.2 Bede's Preface: The Structure of Revelation and the 'periochae'
4.3 Bede's Preface: The Methodological Framework
4.4. The Unscheduled Future: How Bede Shapes the Meaning of Revelation
4.5 Judgement and Reform
5. Bede's Commentary on Revelation: Transmission and Translation
5.1 Transmission in Manuscript
5.2 The Commentary in Print
5.3 Principles Governing the Present Translation
Bede: Commentary on Revelation
The Poem of Bede the Priest
Appendix: The capitula lectionum on Revelation Ascribed to Bede
Index of Sources and Parallels
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History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval