Venerable Bede

Bede, Saint

Saint Bede (bēd), or Baeda (bē´də), 673?–735, English historian, a Benedictine monk, called the Venerable Bede. He spent his whole life at the monasteries of Wearmouth (at Sunderland) and Jarrow and became probably the most learned man in Western Europe in his day. His writings, virtually a summary of the learning of his time, consist of theological, historical, and scientific treatises. Like a modern scholar, he consulted many documents, discussed their relative reliability, and duly cited them as sources—practices then most unusual. His theological works are commentaries on the Scriptures in the light of the interpretations of the Church Fathers. He wrote biographical works such as the life of St. Cuthbert (in prose and verse) and the History of the Abbots (of Wearmouth and Jarrow). His Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, written in Latin prose, remains an indispensable primary source for English history from 597 to 731. It gives the most thorough and reliable contemporary account of the triumph of Christianity and of the growth of Anglo-Saxon culture in England. He also relates the political events that had bearing on these developments. The Ecclesiastical History has been many times translated; the best edition of the text is in Bedae opera historica (ed. by Charles Plummer, 1896). The best known of Bede's scientific treatises are those on chronology, held as standard for many years. Long venerated in the church, Bede was officially recognized as a saint in 1899 and was named Doctor of the Church, the only Englishman so honored. Feast: May 27.

See the collection of essays, Bede: His Life, Times, and Writings (ed. by A. H. Thompson, 1935, repr. 1966); D. Hurst, The Venerable Bede: Commentary on the Catholic Epistles (1985); G. H. Brown, Bede the Venerable (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Bertram Colgrave; R. A. B. Mynors; Bede.
Clarendon Press, 1969
Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People: A Historical Commentary
J. M. Wallace-Hadrill.
Clarendon Press, 1988
Man's Unconquerable Mind: Studies of English Writers: From Bede to A. E. Housman and W. P. Ker
R. W. Chambers.
Jonathan Cape, 1939
Librarian’s tip: Chap. I "Bede"
Anglo-Saxonism and the Construction of Social Identity
Allen J. Frantzen; John D. Niles.
University Press of Florida, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Bede and Bawdy Bale: Gregory the Great, Angels, and the 'Angli'"
A History of Christian-Latin Poetry: From the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages
F. J. E. Raby.
Clarendon Press, 1927
Librarian’s tip: "Anglo-Saxon Poets: Aldhelm, Aethelwald, Bede, Boniface, Lul, Aethewulf, Frithegode, Wulfstan" begins on p. 140
Thought and Letters in Western Europe, A.D. 500 to 900
M. L. W. Laistner.
Cornell University Press, 1957 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Irish and English Scholars and Missionaries to the Death of Bede"
FREE! English Writers: An Attempt Towards a History of English Literature
Henry Morley.
Cassell, vol.2, 1888
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "To the Death of Bede"
Jewish Influence on Christian Reform Movements
Louis I. Newman.
Columbia University Press, 1925
Librarian’s tip: "The Venerable Bede" begins on p. 32
A History of Later Latin Literature from the Middle of the Fourth to the End of the Seventeenth Century
F. A. Wright; T. A. Sinclair.
Macmillan & Co., 1931
Librarian’s tip: "The Venerable Bede (c.670-735)" begins on p. 127
FREE! The Latin Church in the Middle Ages
André Lagarde; Archibald Alexander.
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915
Librarian’s tip: "The Venerable Bede" begins on p. 548
Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians
Patrick W. Carey; Joseph T. Lienhard.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Bede The Venerable" begins on p. 61
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