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Edition, Translation, and Exegesis: The Carolingians and the Bible

Edition, Translation, and Exegesis: The Carolingians and the Bible

Kaczynski, Bernice M.

The gentle voices of teachers: aspects of learning in the Carolingian age, Ohio State University Press (1995)

Abstract

Carolingian society, as we have become increasingly aware, valued books, and of the books it had it valued the Bible most. Scripture was a central preoccupation of the literate classes; it formed, certainly, the main reading of scholars in monasteries and courts. Rulers, too, whether literate or not, wished to know what it said, and literate laymen and women were interested in scriptural matters. What is striking about the reading of the Bible in the ninth century is not simply that people in many different walks of life wished to do it. It is also that they gave attention to the biblical text.

They shared a realization that it was necessary to establish its history—to know how it had been edited and translated into Latin—before attempting to undertake its exe­ gesis. Because they were members of a society so concerned with the sup­ply of books, they were conscious of the tasks of edition and revision; because they read them in a language they did not normally speak, they were familiar with the exercise of translation. The recognition of the im­portance of these acts was a distinctive feature of Carolingian scholarship.

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