Anglo-saxon Versions of the Holy Scriptures

Anglo-Saxon Versions of The Holy Scriptures.

No translation of the entire Bible was made into the language of the Anglo- Saxons; although the substance of the Bible history was fragmentarily thrown into verse by the bards, especially Caedmon (Metrical Paraphrase of Parts of the Holy Scriptures in Anglo-Saxon, with an English translation, notes, etc. by Benjamin Thorpe, Lond 1832, 8vo). SEE AUTHORIZED VERSION. At an early period, however, glosses, or interlineary translations of the Vulgate into the vernacular tongue of our an; cestors, began to be made by the monks. Some of these are still extant. The oldest is the celebrated Durham Book, preserved among the Cotton MSS. in the British Museum. The Latin text of this MS. was written by Eadfrith, bishop of the Church of Holy Isle, some time before the year 688; it received many decorations from the combined skill of Bishop Ethilwold and Billfrith the anchorite, and it was finally glossed over into English (of gloesade on Englisc) by Aldred, who describes himself as "Presbyter indignus et miserrimus," and ascribes his success to "Godes fultume & Sci Cuthberhtes." The work existed first in four separate volumes, but these were at an early period collected into one. The date of Aldred's gloss is supposed to be before A.D. 900. The next of these versions is the Rushworth Gloss of the Gospels, preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford; it closely resembles the Durham book in form, arrangement, and style of execution, and is regarded as of almost equal antiquity with it. Its authors were Farmen and Owen, priests at Harewood, and the Latin text was written by one Macregol. Another Anglo-Saxon translation of the gospels is extant, the author of which is unknown; it is believed to have been executed near the time of the Norman conquest, and bears traces of having been made from one of the ante-hieronymian Latin versions. A translation of the Heptateuch, or first seven books of the Bible, was made by AElfric, archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1006; and there is in the Cottonian Collection a MS. of a translation of the Book of Job, also ascribed to him. Of the same date is a gloss on the Proverbs by an unknown author, also among the Cotton MSS. Of the Psalter an interlineary translation was made at a very early period (about 706) by Adhelm., bishop of Sherborn, but of this no MS. remains. It is reported that King Alfred was also engaged at the time of his death on a translation of the Psalms (William of Malmesbury, De Gest. Reg. Angl. p. 44, E. T. p. 121, ed. Bohn), and other parts of the Bible are said also to have been translated by him. There are other versions of the Psalms in Anglo-Saxon extant in MS. An edition of the Four Gospels was printed at London in 1571, in 4to, with an English translation; it was edited by Archbishop Parker, with a preface by John Fox, the martyrologist. This edition was reprinted by Dr. Marshall, with improvements from the collation of several MSS. by Fr. Junius, Jr. (Dort, 1665, 4to; reissued with a new title-page, Amst. 1684). The best edition of the Gospels is that of Thorpe (London, 1842, 12mo). AElfric's Heptateuch and Job were published by Thwaites (Oxford, 1699, 8vo). Two editions of the Anglo-Saxon Psalter have been issued: the former by Spelman (London, 1640, 4to); the latter by Thorpe (Oxford, 1835, 4to). Mill made use of the Anglo-Saxon versions for critical purposes in his edition of the Greek Testament. Critics are divided as to their value in this respect. Tischendorf has, however, made use of them in his edition (see his Prolegomena, p. 255, ed. 1859). SEE VERSIONS (OF THE BIBLE).

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