Friday, March 15, 2013

Reading Bede

I love reading early medieval history! I just finished the first book of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. It already contains martyrs dying for their faith; preachers preaching the gospel, attacking heresy, and fighting demons; Roman, British, Pictish, and Saxon leaders fighting battles; very practical pastoral instructions from Pope Gregory for the discipleship of the nations; and, above all, the sovereign God who carries it all out according to His purposes.

Bede gave his thoughts on at least one use of history in the preface:
"Should history tell of good men and their good estate, the thoughtful listener is spurred on to imitate the good; should it record the evil ends of wicked men, no less effectually the devout and earnest listener or reader is kindled to eschew what is harmful and perverse, and himself with greater care pursue those things which he has learned to be good and pleasing in the sight of God."
Bede is teaching what the Scripture teaches, such as in 1 Corinthians 10:6 concerning the history of Israel in the wilderness: "Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did."

The following is as close as it gets to mentioning King Arthur (I believe Ambrosius is Arthur's uncle and Arthur is the one who fought the battle of Mount Badon):
"Their [the Briton's] leader at that time was a certain Ambrosius Aurelianus, a discreet man, who was, as it happened, the sole member of the Roman race who had survived this storm [of Saxon invasion] in which his parents, who bore a royal and famous name, had perished. Under his leadership the Britons regained their strength, challenged their victors to battle, and, with God's help, won the day. From that time on, first the Britons won and then the enemy were victorious until the year of the siege of Mount Badon, when the Britons slaughtered no small number of their foes about forty-four years after their arrival in Britain."

For those of you interested in the use of Old Testament law, Pope Gregory goes right to the OT case laws to discuss several practical issues, including: "It is a grave sin to marry one's stepmother, because it is written in the law: 'Thou shalt not uncover his father's nakedness.'"

I look forward to reading more!

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