The Art of Words: Bede and Theodulf: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Art of Words: Bede and Theodulf

1st Edition

By Paul Meyvaert


352 pages

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Medieval art is wordy; inscriptions and poems, commentaries and chronicles accompany and adorn it. The Art of Words presents a series of detective stories by a renowned explorer of medieval philological evidence who here examines the thought and objects of the Venerable Bede and Theodulf of Orleans. What physical objects did Bede have in mind, for example, when writing about the paintings of his monastic churches? How did he conceive of the division of biblical books into chapters? Why was the famous Libri Carolini made for Charlemagne never published? Indeed what did it mean in the Middle Ages to publish something? Pursuing the story of Bede's calendar shows how Valentine's Day began with a reference to birds. To unravel the meaning of the image of Ezra in the Codex Amiatinus the author then demonstrates the importance of knowing the books that Bede knew and wrote. The final topic is the celebrated Apse mosaic of Germigny-des-Prés, how it was saved from destruction and how Theodulf's words explain what we see. Words matter and, in these studies Paul Meyvaert constantly delights the reader with careful excavations of that place in medieval art and thought where images and words connect and collide.


’The papers gathered here involve careful linguistic and artistic detective work, presented in an engaging, often personal style, and are well worthy of careful study.’ Journal of Theological Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Bede and the church paintings at Wearmouth-Jarrow; Bede's Capitula Lectionum for the Old and New Testaments; 'In the footsteps of the fathers': the date of Bede's 30 Questions on the Book of Kings to Nothelm; Discovering the calendar (annalis libellus) attached to Bede's own copy of De Temporum Ratione; Bede, Cassiodorus and Codex Amiatinus; The date of Bede's In Ezram and his image of Ezra in the Codex Amiatinus; Dissension in Bede's community shown by a quire of Codex Amiatinus; The meaning of Theodulf's apse mosaic at Germigny-des-Prés (with Ann Freeman); Maximilen Théodore Chrétin and the apse mosaic at Germigny-des-Prés; Théodulfe et Bède au sujet des blessures du Christ (with A. Davril); Medieval notions of publication: the 'unpublished' Opus Caroli Regis Contra Synodum and the Council of Frankfort (794); Indexes.

About the Author

Paul Meyvaert was Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America, and is Associate of the Department of the Classics at Harvard University, USA

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General