The Venerable Bede (c.673-735)


BEDE, or Baeda, The Venerable (Beda Venerabilis), b. 674; d. May 26, 735; was from his seventh year educated in the Monastery of Wearmouth; moved afterwards to that of Jarrow, where he was ordained deacon in his nineteenth, and presbyter in his thirtieth, year, and remained there for the rest of his life, dividing his time between devotional exercises and studies, teaching, and writing. What we know of his life we owe to notices scattered throughout his own works, especially Hist. Eccl., V. 24, and to a letter on his death by one of his pupils, Cuthbert. What the later vitae contain is nothing but worthless fancies….

The works of Bede range over the whole field of knowledge occupied at his time, - exegesis, grammar, metrics, physics, astronomy, chronology, history, and biography. At the end of his Hist. Eccl. he gives himself a list of his works; but much has become lost, much has been replaced by spurious matter, and much is still left m manuscript. The earlier editions of his collected works - Paris, 1544; Basle, 1563; Cologne, 1612 -are completely uncritical; and even the latest, by Giles, London, 1843 (12 vols. 8vo), and in Patrol. Cursus, Paris, 1850 (xc-xcv), are unsatisfactory. Of his Ecclesiastical History, however, there are good editions by Smith (1722), Stevenson (1838), Moberly (1869). On their time all these works exercised a great influence. They were copied over and over again: they were found in every library of Europe. Bede, the humble monk, living in seclusion in a small English cloister, was indeed the teacher of the whole civilized world.

That group of Bede’s works which has the least interest comprises his poems, of which the Liber Epigrammatum is lost, and the Liber Hymnorum spurious, so that the Vita Cudberti and a few minor poems are the only specimens left; his books De Orthographia, De Metrica Arte, in which he attempts to prove the superiority of the metaphorical language of the Bible over that of the Greeks; and De Natura Rerurn, a compendium of astronomy and geography, establishing a reconciliation of the cosmogony of the Bible with that of the classical mythology. Much more interest has the second group, the exegetical; though, of the twenty-five which Bede himself mentions, the commentaries on Isaiah, Daniel, the minor prophets, Ezra and Nehemiah, are lost; and those of the Kings, Job, Genesis, the Pentateuch, and the Acts, are spurious. In these commentaries the allegorical explanation has completely superseded the grammatica-historical, and one of the chief demands of the method is a full quotation of the views of the Fathers.

Those works which have contributed most to Bede’s fame are his historical writings, more especially his Historia Ecclesiastica Genus Britonum. It was finished in 731, and gives the political and ecclesiastical history of England, from Julius Caesar down to the date of its completion. The introduction, treating the period before the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, is a mere compilation from Orosius, Gildas, Prosper Æquit., the Vita S. Germani, etc.; but the real body of the work, treating the period from 596 to 731, is an independent and conscientious study of documents and other historical sources, and has made Bede the father of ecclesiastical history in the English language. It was translated from Latin into Saxon by King Alfred. Another work, De Ratione Temporum, is a complete chronology, to which is added the De Ætauibus Seculi Six, an outline of the world’s history, inspired by Augustine (Sermo 259 in oct. pasch.). The martyrologies ascribed to Bede are probably spurious.

Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. p.232.


Book or monograph Max Ludwig Wolfram Laistner & Henry Hall King, A Hand List of Bede Manuscripts. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1943. pp. x + 168.

Primary Sources

Book or monograph The Abbreviated Psalter of the Venerable BedeBede, The Abbreviated Psalter of the Venerable Bede, Gerald M. Browne, translator. Grands Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001. Hbk. ISBN: 0802839193. pp.68. {CBD} {}
Book or monograph The Age of BedeBede, The Age of Bede: Bede - "The Life of Cuthbert / Eddius Stephanus - "The Life of Wilfrid" / Bede - "The Lives of the Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow" / "The Voyage of St Brendan," revised edn. D.H. Farmer, editor, J.F. Webb, translator. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1998. Pbk. ISBN: 014044727X. pp.288. {CBD} {}
Book or monograph Bede: A Biblical MiscellanyBede, A Biblical Miscellany, W. Trent Foley & Arthur G. Holder, translators. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999. Pbk. ISBN: 0853236836. pp.212. {}
Book or monograph Bede, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Lawrence T. Martin, translator. Cistercian Studies Series, No 117. Continuum International Publishing Group - Geoffrey Chapman, 1990. Hbk. ISBN: 0879076178. pp.214. {}
On-line Resource Bede, Conversion of England (Medieval Sourcebook)
On-line Resource Bede, Ecclesiastical History of England (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
Book or monograph Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English PeopleBede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, D.H. Farmer, editor, Leo Sherley-Price, translator. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1955. Pbk. ISBN: 014044565X. pp.400. {}
Book or monograph Bede: The Ecclesiastical History of the English PeopleBede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, new edition. Bertram Colgrave, translator. Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 1999. Pbk. ISBN: 0192838660. pp.484. {}
Book or monograph Bede: Historical Works: Ecclesiastical History: Books I-IIIBede, Historical Works: Ecclesiastical History: Books I-III. LOEB Classical Library. Cambridge, MA / London: Harvard University Press, 1989. Hbk. ISBN: 0674992717. pp.542. {}
Book or monograph Bede: Historical Works: Ecclesiastical History: Books IV and V: Lives of the AbbotsBede, Historical Works: Ecclesiastical History: Books IV and V: Lives of the Abbots. LOEB Classical Library. Cambridge, MA / London: Harvard University Press, 1989. Hbk. ISBN: 0674992733. pp.528. {}
Book or monograph Bede, Homilies on the Gospels: Advent to Lent, Book 1. Cistercian Publications, 1993. Pbk. ISBN: 0879077107. {}
Book or monograph Bede, Homilies on the Gospels Book two: Lent to the Dedication of the Church, Lawrence T. Martin & David Hurst OSB, translators. Cistercian Publications, 1991. Pbk. ISBN: 0879079118. pp.290. {}
Book or monograph Bede, Hymns of Bede the Venerable, Gordon Jackson, translator. Asgill Press, 1996. Pbk. ISBN: 0907901395.
On-line Resource Bede, The Life and Miracles of St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindesfarne (721) (Medieval Sourcebook)
On-line Resource Bede, The Lives of The Holy Abbots of Weremouth and Jarrow Benedict, Ceolfrid, Easterwine, Sigfrid, and Huetberht (Medieval Sourcebook)
Book or monograph Bede, On the Temple, Sean Connolly, editor. Liverpool University Press, 1996. Pbk. ISBN: 0853230498. pp.192. {}
Book or monograph Raymond J S Grant, B Text of the Old English Bede. Rodopi BV Editions, 1990. Hbk. ISBN: 9051831064. {}

Secondary Sources

Article in Journal or Book Janet Bately, "Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," Margot H. King & W.M. Stevens, eds. Saints, Scholars and Heroes. Studies in Medieval Culture in Honour of Charles W. Jones. Collegeville, MN: Saint John's Abbey and University, 1979. pp.233-54.
Book or monograph Bede and His World Vols I and II: The Jarrow Lectures, 1958-1978 / The Jarrow Lectures, 1979-1993. Variorum, 1994. Hbk. ISBN: 0860784495. pp.1024. {}
Article in Journal or Book Aidan Bellenger, "Bede: Monk of Wearmouth-Jarrow," Word and Spirit 7 (1985): 23-33.
Book or monograph Peter Hunter Blair, Bede's "Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation" and Its Importance Today. H Saxby, 1959. Pbk. ISBN: 0950108340.
Book or monograph Peter Hunter Blair, editor. Northumbria in the Days of Bede. Gollancz, 1976. Hbk. ISBN: 0575018402. pp.254. {}
Book or monograph Peter Hunter Blair, Venerable Bede. Dean & Chapter of Durham, 1979. Pbk. ISBN: 0907078095.
Book or monograph The World of BedePeter Hunter Blair & Michael LapidgeThe World of Bede. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Pbk. ISBN: 0521398193. pp.354. {}
Book or monograph Gerald Bonner, ed. Formulus Christi. Essays in Commemoration of the Thirteenth Centenary of the Birth of the Venerable Bede. London: SPCK, 1976. Hbk. ISBN: 0281029490. pp.416. {}
Book or monograph Gerald Bonner, St. Bede in the Tradition of Western Apocalyptic Commentary. H Saxby, 1966. Pbk. ISBN: 0950108375.
On-line Resource William Bright [1824-1901], Chapters of Early English Church History, 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888. Hbk. pp.476. [This material is in the Public Domain]
Book or monograph George Hardin Brown, The Venerable Bede. Twayne Publishers, 1987. Hbk. ISBN: 0805769404. pp.153. {}
Book or monograph M. Th A. Carroll, The Venerable Bede. His Spiritual Teachings. Studies in Medieval History, IX. Washington, DC. 1946.
On-line Resource Paul Cavill, "'Signs and Wonders' and the Venerable Bede," The Evangelical Quarterly 60.1 (Jan.-Mar. 1988): 31-42. View in PDF format pdf [Reproduced by permission of the current copyright holder]
Article in Journal or Book R.W. Chambers, "Bede," Proceedings of the British Academy 22 (1936): 129-156.
Article in Journal or Book Simon J. Coates, "The Bishop as Pastor and Solitary: Bede and the Spiritual Authority of the Monk-Bishop," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 47.4 (1996): 601-619.
Book or monograph Bertram Colgrave, Venerable Bede and His Times. H Saxby, 1958. Pbk. ISBN: 0950108332.
Article in Journal or Book H.E.J. Cowdrey, "Bede and the 'English People'," Journal of Religious History 11.4 (1981): 501-523.
Article in Journal or Book J. Davidse, "The Sense of History in the Venerable Bede," Studi Medievali XXIII (1982): 647-95.
Article in Journal or Book Willard W. Dickerson, "Bede as Literary Architect of the English Church: Another Look at Bede's Use of Hagiography in the Historia Ecclesiastica," American Benedictine Review 45.1 (1994): 93-105.
Article in Journal or Book E.P. Echlin, "Bede and the Church," Irish Theological Quarterly 40.4 (1973): 351-363.
Article in Journal or Book T.R. Eckenrode, "The Venerable Bede and the Pastoral Affirmation of the Christian Message in Anglo-Saxon England," Downside Review 99.337 (1981): 258-278.
Book or monograph R T Farrell, ed. Bede and Anglo-Saxon England. British Archaeological Reports, 1978. Pbk. ISBN: 0860540057. pp.172. {}
Article in Journal or Book Bede Foord, "Bede The Venerable and Venerable Women," Word and Spirit 7 (1985): 47-61.
Book or monograph N.J. Higham, An English Empire. Bede and the Early Anglo-Saxon Kings, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995. Pbk. ISBN: 0719044243. pp.275. {}
Article in Journal or Book Arthur G. Holder, "Bede and the Tradition of Patristic Exegesis," Anglican Theological Review 72.4 (1990): 399-411.
Article in Journal or Book Arthur G. Holder, "The Venerable Bede on the Mysteries of our Salvation," American Benedictine Review 42.2 (1991): 140-162.
Article in Journal or Book John William Houghton, "St. Bede among the Controversialists: A Survey," American Benedictine Review 50.4 (1999): 397-422.
Article in Journal or Book David Hurst, "Venerable Bede and the Scriptures," Word and Spirit 7 (1985): 68-79.
Book or monograph David Hurst, Bede The Venerable. Cistercian Publications, 1985. Hbk. ISBN: 0879078820. {}
Article in Journal or Book Edward James, "Bede and the Tonsure Question," Peritia 3 (1984): 85-98.
Article in Journal or Book Charles W. Jones, "Bede as Early Medieval Historian," Medievalia and Humanistica IV (1946): 23-36.
Article in Journal or Book Charles W. Jones, "Some Introductory Remarks on Bede's Commentary on Genesis," Sacris erudiri: Jaarboek voor Godsdienstwetenschappen 19 (1969-70): 115-198.
Book or monograph Charles W. Jones, Bede, the Schools and the Computus. Variorum, 1994. Hbk. ISBN: 0860784134. pp.368. {}
Article in Journal or Book J.F. Kelly, "Bede and the Irish Exegetical Tradition," Revue bénédictine de critique 92 (1982): 393-406.
Article in Journal or Book Joseph Kelly, "On the Brink: Bede," Journal of Early Christian Studies 5.1 (1997): 85-103.
Article in Journal or Book D.P. Kirby, "Bede's Native Sources for the Historia Ecclesiastica," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library XLVIII (1966): 341-71.
Article in Journal or Book P. Kitson, "Bede's Explanatio Apocalypsis and Related Works," Anglo-Saxon England 12 (1983): 73-123.
On-line Resource M.L.W. Laistner, "Bede as Classical and as a Patristic Scholar," Transactions of the Historical Society. London Series 16 (1933): 69-94.View in PDF format pdf
Article in Journal or Book Jean Leclercq, "Saint Bede and Christian Expansion," Word and Spirit 7 (1985): 3-22.
Book or monograph R.A. Markus, Bede and the Tradition of Ecclesiastical Biography, Jarrow Lecture. Parish of Jarrow, 1975. Pbk. ISBN: 0903495058.
Book or monograph Henry Mayr- Harting, Venerable Bede, the Rule of St. Benedict and Social Class. Parish of Jarrow, 1976. Pbk. ISBN: 0903495031.
Book or monograph Paul Meyvaert, Bede and Gregory the Great. Parish of Jarrow, 1964. Pbk. ISBN: 0950108367.
Article in Journal or Book Molly Miller, "Bede's Use of Gildas," English Historical Review XG (1975): 241-61.
Article in Journal or Book Glenn Olsen, "Bede as Historian: The Evidence From His Observations on the Life of the First Christian Community in Jerusalem," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33.4 (1982): 519-530.
Book or monograph Mary R Price, Bede and Dunstan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968. Pbk. ISBN: 0198315953. {}
Article in Journal or Book Thomas Renna, "Bernard and Bede," American Benedictine Review 44.3 (1993): 223-235.
Article in Journal or Book J.T. Rosenthal, "Bede's Use of Miracles in the Ecclesiastical History," Traditio 31 (1975): 328-35.
Article in Journal or Book J.T. Rosenthal, "Bede's Ecclesiastical History and the Material Conditions of Anglo-Saxon Life," Journal of British Studies 19 (1979): 1-17.
Article in Journal or Book J.N. Stephens, "Bede's Ecclesiastical History," History 62 (1977): 1-14.
Book or monograph Wesley M Stevens, Bede's Scientific Achievement. Parish of Jarrow, 1986. Pbk. ISBN: 0903495171.
Book or monograph Charles Thomas, Bede, Archaeology and the Cult of Relics. Parish of Jarrow, 1973. Pbk. ISBN: 0903495074.
Book or monograph A.Hamilton Thompson, ed. Bede. His Life, Times and Works, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969. Hbk. ISBN: 019822317X. pp.269. {}
On-line Resource The Venerable Bede (Herbert Thurston)
Book or monograph Robert Van de Weyer, editor. Bede: Celtic and Roman Religion in Britain. Arthur James, 1997. Pbk. ISBN: 0853054096. pp.160. {}
Book or monograph Wallace-Hadrill: Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People: A Historical CommentaryJ.M. Wallace-Hadrill, Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People: A Historical Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pbk. ISBN: 0198221746. pp.336. {CBD} {}
Book or monograph J M Wallace-Hadrill, Bede's Europe. Parish of Jarrow, 1985. Pbk. ISBN: 0903495104.
Article in Journal or Book Benedicta Ward, "Bede and the Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons," Word and Spirit 7 (1985): 34-46.
Book or monograph Ward: Bede and the PsalterBenedicta Ward, Bede and the Psalter. SLG Press, 2002. Pbk. ISBN: 0728301598. pp.48. {}
Book or monograph Ward: The Venerable Bede Benedicta Ward, The Venerable Bede, new edn. Continuum International Publishing Group - Academic and Professional, 2002. Pbk. ISBN: 0826457851. pp.166. {}
Article in Journal or Book Dorothy Whitelock, "The Old English Bede," Proceedings of the British Academy 48 (1962): 57-90.
Article in Journal or Book P. Wormald, "Bede, Beowulf and the Conversion of the Anglo-Saxon Aristocracy," R.T. Farrell, ed. Bede and Anglo-Saxon England, 1976. pp.32-90
Book or monograph Patrick Wormald, Bede and the Conversion of England. Parish of Jarrow, 1985. Pbk. ISBN: 0903495163.
Book or monograph Patrick Wormald, Bede and the Anglo Saxons. Blackwell Publishers, 2003. Hbk. ISBN: 0631166556.
Article in Journal or Book J.B. Wynn, "The Beginning of the Year in Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," Medium Aevum 21 (1956): 70-78.

Related Subjects
Peter Abelard | Aelfric | Alcuin |Anselm | Augustine of Canterbury | Thomas Becket | Bede | Benedict | Bernard of Clairvaux | Boniface | Thomas Bradwardine | Bruno | Catherine of Siena | Charlemagne | Charles Martel | Clare | Clovis | Columba | Dominic | Duns Scotus | Dunstan | Meister Eckhart | Desiderius Erasmus | Francis of Assisi | Gottschalk | Gregory I | Gregory of Rimini | Gregory of Tours | Hildegard of Bingen | Hugo of St Victor | Ignatius Loyola | Innocent III | Isidore | Joachim of Fiore | John Huss | John of Wesel | Jerome of Prague | Julian of Norwich | Marjory Kempe | Ramon Llull | Nicholas of Cusa | Nicholas of Lyre | Patrick | Pepin (Pippin III) | Peter Damian | Peter Lombard | Peter the Venerable | Photius | Richard Rolle | Scholastica | Thomas Aquinas | Wilfred | William of Ockham | William of St-Theirry | John Wycliffe

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