Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Letter to Sigeweard

This is really in answer to Derek the Anglican's question on the last post, but my reply became so long and detailed that I thought it'd make a good post. So here it is:

Derek asked:
You may well be right. I can't think of any others if narrative is a requirmenet. Martin of Braga's is the clost I can think of but I haven't read Pirmin.

btw, what do you think of Jerome's first letter to Paulinus of Nola?

Yes, Martin's is close and makes many of the same points other patristic writers and Aelfric makes. BUT at the same time there are some key differences. The chapter keeps going, because I keep finding new material to cover. Right now, all I can do though is say with Day and Godden that Martin may have been an inspiration for De Initio...we know that Aelfric makes use of Martin's sermon in other contexts (De Falsiis Deis, Cath Homs I.6, Lives On Auguries), but in the neither the Letter to Sigewaerd, De Initio or for that matter other hexameral discussions of Aelfric is there a quote or citation of Martin or even matching phrases (having just compared the texts phrase by phrase I can say that).

Jerome's Letter LIII? I'm assuming you're referring to the list of the books? I have a long section of this same chapter that compares the Letter to all the previous discussions of the contents of the Bible that I could find: Jerome's letter 53, Prolgus Galeatus, Augustine's De Doctrina, Rufinus' translation of Eusebius' Church History, Cassiodorus' Institutes, Isidore in the Etymologies and in the Proemia, and finally Alcuin's Bible poems. A) Aelfric's order is unique except for Cassiodorus...these are very close and I suggest a reason for that since there is no evidence that Aelfric knew Cassiodorus or that a copy of the Institutes was in A-S England. B) Aelfric's content is by and large different than all the foregoing. Sometimes a similar point is made about a particular book of the Bible, but in different phrasing so at most all one can say is that these previous treatments if known to Aelfric (and some were since he quotes the text in other places) can only be said to be inspirations to him, and sources of knowledge that he is now passing on, but indirectly, not directly. If that makes sense....

1 comment:

Derek the ├ćnglican said...

No, I definitely agree with you on the narrative bit.

I was thinking of Jerome's LIII as a potential inspiration rather than source text--the notion of writing an introductory letter on the Scriptures to an intested laymen (though Paulinus didn't remain one).

Alcuin's Bible poems? Didn't know abou them...
Benedict Biscop and the codex grandior rumors do pop up at points regarding the ordering.