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Bede, the Venerable, Bede.

Bede, the Venerable, Bedealso spelled Baeda or Beda(b. 672/673, traditionally Monkton in Jarrow, Northumbria [England]--d. May 25, 735, Jarrow)

Anglo-Saxon theologian, historian, and chronologist, best known today for his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("Ecclesiastical History of the English People"), a source vital to the history of the conversion to Christianity of the Anglo-Saxon tribes. His method of dating events from the time of the incarnation, or Christ's birth--i.e., AD--came into general use through the popularity of the Historia ecclesiastica and the two works on chronology.

Nothing is known of Bede's parentage. At the age of seven he was taken to the Monastery of St. Peter, founded at Wearmouth (near Sunderland, Durham) by Abbot Benedict Biscop, to whose care he was entrusted. By 685 he was moved to Biscop's newer Monastery of St. Paul at Jarrow. Bede was ordained deacon when 19 years old and priest when 30.

Bede's earliest works included treatises on spelling, hymns, figures of speech, verse, and epigrams. His first treatise on chronology, De temporibus ("On Times"), with a brief chronicle attached, was written in 703. In 725 he completed a greatly amplified version, De temporum ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), with a much longer chronicle. Both these books were mainly concerned with the reckoning of Easter. His earliest biblical commentary was probably that on the Revelation to John (703?-709).

In 731/732 Bede completed his Historia ecclesiastica . Divided into five books, it recorded events in Britain from the raids by Julius Caesar (55-54 BC) to the arrival in Kent (AD 597) of St. Augustine. For his sources he claimed the authority of ancient letters, the "traditions of our forefathers," and his own knowledge of contemporary events. It remains an indispensable source for some of the facts and much of the feel of early Anglo-Saxon history.

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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Words:355
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