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Letter to Ecgbert, added to a copy of 'On Proverbs' by Bede

Letter to Ecgbert, added to a copy of 'On Proverbs' by Bede

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Harley MS 4688

Item number: f.89r

Length: 28.3

Width: 17.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Most well-known for his 'History of the English Church and People', the Venerable Bede (c. 672-735) wrote other best-sellers, many of them commentaries on the books of the Bible. His books were studied by theologians throughout the middle ages. Bede lived from boyhood until his death at the monastery of Jarrow, but his tomb is in Durham Cathedral. This manuscript of his commentary on the Book of Proverbs (of Solomon) belonged to the library there. Placed at the end of the Commentary on Proverbs, a copy of Bede's letter to Ecgbert, Bishop of York (died 766), added a warning to the monks who studied the book. The well-known letter contains Bede's complaints about 'phoney' monasteries: wealthy families sometimes founded monasteries that did not follow a proper rule for daily prayer and conduct and even allowed scandalous behaviour of members of the community. He also praises St Ambrose's recommendation that Christians should recite the Creed upon arising each morning.

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