Bede and Time : Computus, Theology and History in the Early Medieval World book cover
1st Edition

Bede and Time
Computus, Theology and History in the Early Medieval World

ISBN 9781472476630
Published October 8, 2019 by Routledge
210 Pages

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Book Description

The Venerable Bede (c. 673–735) was the leading intellectual figure of the early Anglo-Saxon Church, and his extensive corpus of writings encompassed themes of exegesis, computus (dating of Easter and construction of calendars), history and hagiography. Rather than look at these works in isolation, Máirín MacCarron argues that Bede’s work in different genres needs to be read together to be properly understood. This book provides the first integrated analysis of Bede’s thought on time, and demonstrates that such a comprehensive examination allows a greater understanding of Bede’s writings on time, and illuminates the place of time and chronology in his other works. Bede was an outstanding intellect whose creativity and ingenuity were apparent in various genres of writing. This book argues that in innovatively combining computus, theology and history, Bede transformed his contemporaries’ understanding of time and chronology.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Computus, Contexts and Controversies

Chapter 1: De temporibus

  • Transmission and Terminology of Bede’s works on Time
  • Insular computistica
  • Structure and content of computistical textbooks
  • De temporibus and Insular computus tradition
  • Why did Bede write De temporibus?

Chapter 2: The De temporibus chronicle

  • Structure of the De temporibus chronicle
  • Purpose of the De temporibus chronicle
  • Terminology and titles for Bede’s chronicles

Chapter 3: Bede’s Anno Mundi chronology and the ‘Chronicle of 703’

  • Chronography in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages
  • Chronology in the Insular World
  • Why did Bede use Vulgate chronology?
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4: Bede’s chronicles: contents and sources

  • First to Fifth World Ages
  • Sixth World Age
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5: Nativity and Incarnation in Bede’s Theology of Time

  • Baptism, Passion and Nativity in World Chronicle Tradition
  • Bede and counting time from the coming of Christ
  • Nativity and Incarnation in Bede’s thought
  • Nativity and Incarnation in early medieval theology

Chapter 6: Bede, Dionysius Exiguus and Anno Domini chronology

  • Annus Domini prior to the seventh century
  • Anglo-Saxon England
  • Willibrord and Francia
  • Bede and Annus Domini in the Historia Ecclesiastica


Appendix 1: Table of chapter headings in Bede’s De temporibus and his principal sources

Appendix 2: Table of key chronological events in the Chronicle of Eusebius and Jerome

Appendix 3: Chronological comparison of Bede’s chronicles

Appendix 4: Table of Popes in the Liber Pontificalis, De temporibus 22 and De temporum ratione 66

Appendix 5: Incarnation dating clauses in the Historia Ecclesiastica

Appendix 6: Comparison of Bede’s AD-years in the Historia Ecclesiastica with AD-years calculated from his chronicles




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Máirín MacCarron is Lecturer in Digital Humanities at University College Cork, having previously held posts at NUI Galway and the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include Time, Chronology and the writing of History; Women in the Middle Ages; and Digital approaches to studying the past.