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

Bede and Time

Computus, Theology and History in the Early Medieval World, 1st Edition

By Máirín MacCarron


240 pages

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Hardback: 9781472476630
pub: 2019-07-20
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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




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




About the Author

Dr Máirín MacCarron is Senior Researcher in the Department of History at the University of Sheffield. She previously held a National University of Ireland / Dr Garret FitzGerald Postdoctoral fellowship at NUI Galway and received her doctorate from University College Cork. Her research interests are in Time, Chronology, and the Writing of History; Women in the Middle Ages; and Digital approaches to study of the past, especially Network Science. She is editor of Maths Meets Myths: quantitative approaches to ancient narratives.

About the Series

Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland

Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland
Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland illuminates the history of Britain and Ireland from the start of the fifth century to the establishment of French-speaking aristocracies in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, for historians, archaeologists, philologists, literary, visual and cultural scholars. It explores the origins of British society, of communities, and political, administrative and ecclesiastical institutions. It was in the early middle ages that the English, Welsh, Scots and Irish defined and distinguished themselves in language, customs and territory and the successive conquests and settlements lent distinctive Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian and Norman elements to the British ethnic mix. Royal dynasties were established and the landscape took a form that can still be recognised today; it was then too that Christian churches were established with lasting results for our cultural, moral, legal and intellectual horizons. Studies in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland reveals these roots and makes them accessible to a wide readership of scholars, students and lay people.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Medieval