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THE present volume forms a second portion of the exhaustive edition of the Anglo-Saxon Gospels, as planned by Mr Kemble. The first portion was published in 1858, with the title, "The Gospel according to St Matthew, in Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian Versions, synoptically arranged: with collations of the best Manuscripts. Edited for the Syndics of the University Press. Cambridge: at the University Press. 1858." Unfortunately Mr Kemble did not live to complete the volume, and the task of finishing it devolved upon Mr Hardwick, whose preface commences with the following paragraph:
"An edition of the Gospels, as transmitted to us in the leading dialects of ancient England, was designed and partly executed several years ago by one of our accomplished Anglo-Saxon scholars, John M. Kemble, Esq. M.A, of Trinity College, Cambridge. The undertaking was, however, soon suspended for various causes; and at the time of Mr Kemble's death, in the spring of 1857, the portion of it actually completed did not reach beyond the opening verses of the twentyfifth chapter of St Matthew. Under these circumstances the Syndics of the University Press, instead of suffering so good a project to fall entirely to the ground, resolved to carry on the printing of the work as far at least as the conclusion of the first Gospel."
The remainder of Mr Hardwick's very brief preface merely indicates the titles of the MSS. on which the text and notes were founded. This is perhaps the fitting place to add that the expression "collations of the best manuscripts" in the title-page above quoted is calculated to mislead. Not merely the best, but all the existing manuscripts were consulted, and all their various readings recorded. From the omission of the marginal numbers having reference to the Eusebian Canons in the latter part of the work, it appears that the first 192 pages were prepared by Mr Kemble, and the last 39 by Mr Hardwick.
By the kindness of the Syndics of the University Press, I have been permitted to undertake this second portion of the work; and, as the circumstances attending the publication of St Matthew's Gospel did not afford a favourable opportunity for discussing the peculiarities of the MSS., or even for explaining the general design by which their readings are synoptically exhibited, I now endeavour to supply the necessary information.
As to the general account of our early versions of the Scriptures, and the MSS. in which they are contained, the reader cannot do better than consult the Preface to "The Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels," &c., edited by the Rev. Joseph Bosworth, D.D., and G. Waring Esq., published in 1865. In the Preface also to the Wycliffite Versions of the Holy Bible, edited by the Rev. J. Forshall and Sir F. Madden, K.H. in 1850, there is a passage which exhibits the whole matter so clearly and briefly that it is advisable to quote it at length, together with the valuable footnotes appended to it.
"The poem which bears the name of Cadmon, gives several passages of Scripture with tolerable fidelity, and it might require extended notice, if the epic and legendary character of the composition suffered it to be ranked among the versions of holy writ'. Aldhelm, bishop of Sherborn, who died in 709, is reported to have rendered the Psalter into his native language, and the Anglo-Saxon version, discovered in the Royal Library at Paris about the beginning of the present century, has been supposed to be at least in part his production. The first fifty psalms are in prose, the others in verse.
"Bede wrote chiefly for the learned; yet that the common people might more easily be taught the elements of their religion, he turned the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer into Anglo-Saxon, and frequently presented copies of these formularies to such illiterate priests as came under his notice'. He died in 735, and one of his last efforts was a translation of the Gospel of St John, which he seems to have completed, just as death put an end to his labours".
"Alfred, in his zeal for the improvement of his country, did not overlook the importance of vernacular Scripture. At the head of his laws he set in AngloSaxon the ten commandments, with such of the Mosaic injunctions in the three following chapters of Exodus, as were most to his purpose. What other parts of the Bible he translated, it is difficult to determine. A remarkable passage in his preface to the Pastoral of Pope Gregory, leaves no room for doubt, that if the more necessary portions of holy writ were not made accessible to his subjects in their own tongue, it was only because this wise and pious prince failed of the opportunity to accomplish his wishes.
"Whatever might be the extent of Alfred's biblical labours, it is beyond question that soon after his days the Anglo-Saxon Church had her own interpretations of those parts of Scripture which were in most frequent use. The Psalter
1 "Cadmon was a monk of Whitby, in the seventh century. The poem as it now exists has, probably, been materially altered by the reciters and transcribers of a later period. It has been twice published, first by Francis Junius in 1655, and next by Mr. Benjamin Thorpe in 1832." Also by C. W. M. Grein in 1857.
26 'Bale, Scriptorum illustr. catalogus, ed. 1557, p. 84." "It was edited for the delegates of the Oxford Uni
versity Press by Mr. Benjamin Thorpe, under the title,
Bedæ ep. ad Egbertum; see Hist. Eccl. ed. Smith,
5 "Cuthberti Vita Bedæ; see Eccl. Hist. p. 793."
ascribed to Aldhelm, if it be not the work of that prelate, certainly cannot be later than the ninth century. To the same period may be safely attributed the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospels'. Several MSS. of it are preserved; but none of them appear to give the version in its original purity. Successive transcribers adapted the language to the idioms and inflexions of their own times and provinces. Some however of the copies are earlier and less earlier and less degenerate than others. The latest seems to be considerably subsequent to the conquest, the most ancient may have been written more than a hundred years before it.
"But it was not solely to this version that the unlettered Anglo-Saxon was indebted for a knowledge of what the Evangelists record. Access was also afforded to their narratives by means of verbal glosses made in copies of the Latin Gospels. These glosses were written between the lines of the text, rendering it in the same order word by word. Of the two glosses which are now exstant, one is found in the famous book of Durham3, and was made by the priest Aldred, probably in the tenth century; the other of the same age is contained in a MS. of the Bodleian Library, and had for its authors Owun and Farman, the latter a priest at Harewood.
"Similar glosses had been made on the Psalter. A gloss of this kind, probably of the ninth century, was published in 1640 from a MS. belonging to sir Henry Spelman, by his son, afterwards sir John". Another gloss of the same period was published by the Surtees Society in 18437. Variations from these glosses are found in several other MSS.8 Glosses also occur on the canticles of the church, and the Lord's prayer; on portions of Scripture in the ritual of Durham, and on the more difficult words of the book of Proverbs 10.
"Towards the close of the tenth century Elfric translated, omitting some parts and greatly abridging others, the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, a portion of the books of Kings, Esther, Job, Judith, and the Maccabees". He also drew up in
1 "Published three times; 1. by abp. Parker in 1571; 2. by Dr Marshall, rector of Lincoln college, in 1665; and 3. by Mr Benjamin Thorpe, in 1842." Also by Dr. Bosworth, 1865.
2 "The MSS. still remaining are, 1. Corp. Ch. Coll. Camb. S. 4; 2. Brit. Mus. Cotton. Otho C. 1; 3. Bodl. 441; 4. Univ. Lib. Camb. Ii. 2. 11; 5. Brit. Mus. Old R. Libr. 1 A. 14; and 6. Bodl. Hatton 65. The first two are the earliest."
3"Brit. Mus. Cotton. Nero D. 4."
4 "Bodl. Rushworth 3946."
5 "Afterwards in the Stowe collection No. xxviii. and now in the possession of the Earl of Ashburnham."
6"With the title Psalterium Davidis Latino-Saxonicum Vetus. 4to. London, 1640."
7 "Anglo-Saxon and Early English Psalter, 2 vols. 8vo. 1843, edited by the Rev. J. Stevenson. The Anglo
Saxon gloss is taken from the Cotton MS. Vespasian A. 1,
8 "Of three MSS. partial collations are given by Spelman; namely, 1. Univ. Lib. Camb. 256; 2. Trin. Coll. Camb. 35; and 3. Brit. Mus. Arundel 60. A gloss also occurs in Brit. Mus. Old R. Libr. 2 B. 5; Cotton. Vitellius E. 18 and Tiberius C. 6; in Bodl. Junius 27; in the Lambeth MS. 427, and in that of Salisbury Cathedral marked 141."
"Edited for the Surtees Society by the Rev. J. Stevenson, 8vo. London, 1840."
10 "Brit. Mus. Cotton. Vespasian D. 6." 11"What remains of this translation was printed in 1698 by Edw. Thwaites, from the Bodl. MS. Laud E. 19. under the title Heptateuchus, liber Job et Evangelium