Bede

Bede wrote a number of works which touched upon eschatological and apocalyptic themes. For a comprehensive survey see P. Darby, Bede and the End of Time (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012).

– ‘On Times’

Written in AD 703, this brief treatise on computus and the natural world – part of a doublet with his ‘On the Nature of Things’ – was the first popular work to advocate AMIII and therefore a significant postponement of the Year 6000.

Edition: Jones (1943 – minus the chronicle) or Jones, CCSL 123C (1980 – including the chronicle).

Translation: Wallis (2010).

– ‘Commentary on Revelation’

Possibly one of Bede’s earliest works alongside ‘On Times’, it is a systematic, almost line-by-line analysis of Revelation. Although it is more ‘historical’ than many other such commentaries, Bede still followed Tyconian exegesis, preferring interpretations which were typological, anagogical and ecclesiological.

Edition: Gryson, CCSL 121A (2001).

Translation: Wallis (2012).

– ‘Letter to Plegwin’

Bede’s assertion of the correctness of AMIII in ‘On Times’ led to some arguments, which reached a height around AD 708 when a priest at the dinner table of Bishop Wilfrid accused Bede of heresy. By asserting that Christ was born in AM3952, so the accusation went, Bede had denied that Christ was born in the Sixth (and last) Age of the World – an argument which only makes sense if one assumes that the world will last 6000 years and that Christ was born in either AM5,500 or c. AM 5,200. Some of Bede’s critics, perhaps trained in the ‘Greek’ school at Canterbury, also maintained that the world would endure for 7,000 years. In the ‘Letter to Plegwin’, Bede attacked his opponents and outlined both the scriptural basis for preferring AMII and the mistakes in Greek chronological traditions.

Edition: Jones, CCSL 123C (1980).

Translation: Wallis (1999).

– ‘On the Reckoning of Time’

By AD 725, Bede’s thoughts on time and its end had matured. In response to arguments in his monastery he issued an extended treatise on Easter tables and chronology, expanding on computistical points made in ‘On Times’ and defending AMIII. In chs. 67-71(2), Bede also set out his apocalyptic thoughts, arguing in particular that predicting the time of the end was pointless and dangerous, and that the only two sure signs would be the coming of Antichrist and the conversion of the Jews.

Edition: Jones (1943 – chs 1-65 only); Mommsen, MGH AA 9 (1898 – chs 66-71 only); Jones, CCSL 123B (1977 – an unsatisfactory combination of the earlier editions).

Translation: Wallis (1999).

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