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Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose$
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Tobias Reinhardt, Michael Lapidge, and J. N. Adams

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263327

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263327.001.0001

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The Varieties of Bede’s Prose

The Varieties of Bede’s Prose

(p.338) (p.339) The Varieties of Bede’s Prose
Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

Richard Sharpe

British Academy

Bede’s reputation has never stood higher than today. The range of his writings is considerable. Bede composed Latin verse, the climax of secondary school education. His language has been little discussed but often praised. A recent discussion of Bede’s prose takes a statistical approach to five sample passages taken from the Historia ecclesiastica and from two of the homilies; not a single Latin sentence is quoted, and no distinctions are made between the language of the different works. Real analysis of his prose concentrates on the biblical works, which vary substantially from one another. There are two distinct agendas for study here, one focusing on the language of biblical exegesis in Latin, particularly in late antiquity, the other concerning the development of Bede’s own work in this genre. The chapter then reviews the preliminary problems that help to explain why reading the more complex of Bede’s exegetical works is so much more difficult than reading his historical prose.

Keywords:   Bede, prose, writings, language, Latin verse, reading, biblical exegesis

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