Home | Contents | Bracken notes


1. This article is also published in A. M. Luiselli Fadda and É. Ó Carragáin (ed) Le Isole Britanniche e Roma in Età Romanobarbarica Biblioteca di Cultura Romanobarbarica (Rome 1998). As the paper was submitted in 1995, I have not been able to consider Marina Smyth, Understanding the universe in seventh-century Ireland Studies in Celtic History 15 (Woodbridge 1996). I am grateful to Fr Gerard MacGinty OSB for reading this paper and commenting on the points raised in it.

2. The text was edited by the Benedictines of St-Maur and published among works of Augustine of Hippo in the third volume of his collected works in the Maurists' edition (3.2149-2200), repr. PL 35.2149-200. This is still the most accessible edition and the one used here; the most recent edition is that by Fr G. MacGinty, `The treatise De mirabilibus sacrae scripturae: critical edition, with introduction, English translation of the long recension and some notes' (unpubl. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland 1971, 2 vols). I have greatly profited from a discussion with Fr MacGinty of some of the points raised here. The work is listed in various compendia of Hiberno-Latin literature: B. Bischoff, `Wendepunkte in der Geschichte der lateinischen Exegese im Frümittelalter', Mittelalterliche Studien (Stuttgart 1966) 205-73, a revision of an article that appeared in Sacris Erudiri 6 (1954) 189-279, trans. C. O'Grady et al. `Turning-points in the history of Latin exegesis in the early Irish Church: AD 650-800', in M. McNamara (ed) Biblical studies: the medieval Irish contribution, Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association I (Dublin 1976). Bischoff looks at De mirabilibus in `Turning-points', 144; M. Lapidge and R. Sharpe, A bibliography of Celtic-Latin literature 400-1200 (Dublin 1985) 79, item 291.

3. On the milieu and dating of the work, see M. Esposito, `On the Psuedo-Augustinian treatise De mirabilibus sanctae scripturae written in Ireland in the year 655', Proc Roy Ir Acad (C) 35 (1919) 189-207: 1978; P. Grosjean, `Sur quelques exégètes irlandais du VIIe siècle', Sacris Erudiri 7 (1955) 67-98; M. Simonetti `De mirabilibus sacrae scripturae: un trattato irlandese sui miracoli della sacra scrittura', Romanobarbarica 4 (1979) 225-51; D. Ó Cróinín, `The date, provenance, and earliest use of the works of Virgilius Maro Grammaticus', in G. Bernt, F. Rädle and G. Silagi (ed) Tradition und Wertung: Festschrift für Franz Brunhölzl zum 65. Geburtstag (Sigmaringen 1989) 17; G. MacGinty, `The Irish Augustine: De mirabilibus sacrae scripturae', in P. Ní Chatháin and M. Richter (ed) Ireland and Christendom: the early Church (Stuttgart 1987); A. Breen, `Some seventh-century Hiberno-Latin texts and their relationships', Peritia 3 (1984) 204-14: 205.

4. J. F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland: ecclesiastical, Records of Civilisation: Sources and Studies XI (New York 1929) 277.

5. `Turning-points' 79. M. Schapiro, `An Irish-Latin text on the angel with the ram in Abraham's sacrifice', in D. Fraser, H. Hibbard and M. J. Lewine (ed) Essays in the history of art presented to Rudolf Wittkower (London 1967) (reprinted in Schapiro, Late antique, early christian and medieval art: selected papers (New York 1975)) deals with the influence of Augustinus Hibernicus on Alcuin. He calls (307) Augustinus Hibernicus's explanation of the appearance of the ram at the sacrifice of Isaac a `rationalistic account'. I am grateful to Dr Jennifer O'Reilly for this reference.

6. `La cultura irlandese precarolingia: miracolo o mito?' Studi medievali, 3rd ser. 8 (1967) 257-420: 340.

7. Simonetti, 251.

8. M. Smyth, `Isidore of Seville and early Irish cosmography', Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 14 (1987) 95 refers to the `extraordinary consistency of the De Mirabilibus …' and, in `The physical world in seventh-century Hiberno-Latin texts', Peritia 5 (1986) 209, states that it shows `a remarkable degree of resourcefulness and coherence …'.

9. For example, Isaiah 14 was long accepted as an account of the fall of the devil. Origen, in De principiis, was the first of the Christian exegetes to apply the words of Isaiah 14 to the fall of the devil. With the increasing influence of the allegorising of the Alexandrian school, Origen's interpretation of Isaiah 14 as a proof-text of the devil's rebellion and downfall became commonplace. P. E. Dustoor, `Legends of Lucifer in Early English and in Milton', Anglia 54 (1930) 213-68: 229 gives the following examples: Tertullian, Contra Marcionem V, 11, 17; Origen, In Ep. ad Rom. V; Jerome, Adv. Jovin. II, 3; Augustine, De ciu. dei XI, 15; De genesi ad litteram (GAL) 11, 2, 4. Augustinus Hibernicus knew and rejected this traditional interpretation. See PL 35.21512.

10. `Cuncti vero laboris hoc magnopere intentio procurat, ut in omnibus rebus, in quibus extra quotidianam administrationem aliquid factum videtur, non novam ibi deum facere naturam, sed ipsam quam in principio condidit, gubernare ostendat' (PL 35.2151-2). I have made this translation, and the others that follow, from the PL edition of DMS.

11. Commenting on the miracle of the changing of the waters of the Nile into blood (Exod. 7:20) he says that just as animals convert water into blood in their bodies over time, the same happened the waters of the Nile over a shorter time span (PL 35.2165). He repeats this in his explanation of the sweetening of the waters of Marah (Exod. 15:22-25) (PL 35.2167-8). He presents the miracle of the loaves and fishes (Matt. 14:17-21) as a miraculous shortcut in the annual miracle of the growth or entire cornfields from a few seeds (PL 35.2198). In GAL VI, 13-14 (PL 34.348-9), Augustine explains miracles in the same way. His comment in De ciuitate dei X, 12, `Nam temporalia movens temporaliter non movetur', conveys the same idea (CCSL 47, 287).

12. PL 34.2151. Augustinus Hibernicus points out the significance of the fact that both these biblical verses relate to the Sabbath. John 5:17, telling how God continues his work, is a reply to `the Jews questioning about the Sabbath'. The work of the Creator therefore extends beyond the sixth day. Augustinus Hibernicus's job was to decide what that work involved.

13. PL 34.189. The juxtaposition of these two biblical citations is made in Sigewulf's very first question in Alcuin's Interrogationes et responsiones in Genesin (PL 100.517). This text has been influenced by Augustinus Hibernicus. Further evidence of interest in this is found in the Hiberno-Latin (?) commentary on Genesis in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS lat. 10616, f 113r-v where the discipulus contrasts these two biblical passages in his question. In Wicbod's Quaestionum super genesim … dialogus the quaestio that responds to the pupil's query about the meaning of God's resting also quotes John 5:17 and attributes the piece to Junilius (PL 93.260). The source of this quaestio, however, is the Dialogus quaestionum LXV attributed to Augustine (PL 40.747). Grosseteste, who knew DMS as De mirabilibus diuine scripture, also addresses the issue in his Hexaemeron in similar terms and uses the same biblical texts in a lengthy quotation he attributes to Jerome but the source of which has not been identified (R. C. Dales and S. Gieben, Robert Grosseteste Hexaëmeron, Auctores Britannici Medii Aevi IV (Oxford 1982) 269-270).

14. Latin text, PL 35.2198.

15. Simonetti, 246 with reference to GAL VI, 13-14; IX, 17 and De Trinitate III 4. GAL IV, 10-12 (PL 34.303-4) may also have been important to Augustinus Hibernicus here.

16. Indeed, Simonetti (245, n. 34) says that Augustinus Hibernicus does not deal specifically with the miracle at Cana because he deals here with the transforming work of the vine changing water into wine.

17. J. E. Cross, Cambridge Pembroke College MS 25: a Carolingian sermonary used by Anglo-Saxon preachers, in J. Bately (ed) King's College London Medieval Studies I (Exeter 1987) 65.

18. Cross, 84.

19. Cross, 83-4, from Pem. 25, f 25r. Munich, Clm 6233, f 131v-132r, reads, `in hac die fecit Iesus uinum de aqua, .cl. modios, ut refertur, mutauit elimento aquae et conuertit in colorem et saporem uini'. I have examined the microfilm of the MS in the National Library, Dublin. The miracle is again referred to on f 134r with no explanation of what the change from water to wine involved.

20. PL 100.515-66. Esposito (`On the Pseudo-Augustinian treatise, De mirabilibus sanctae scripturae', 200-1), Schapiro (`An Irish-Latin text on the angel') and MacGinty (`The treatise De mirabilibus sacrae scripturae') all say that Alcuin used DMS in his Interrogationes et responsiones in Genesin.

21. G. E. MacLean, `Aelfric's version of Alcuini interrogationes Sigeuulfi in Genesin', Anglia 6 (1883) 1-59, 423-73. The first question deals with the difference between Deus creator and Deus gubernator and a reconciliation of Genesis 2:2 with John 5:17. The text continues to discuss the nature of the Creator's relationship with creation and the Fall.

22. The scribe of MS Châlons 59 of the Elucidarium added a section after quaestio II, 34 that is clearly taken from Alcuin's Interrogationes in Genesin and, ultimately, from Augustinus Hibernicus. The text is exited by Y. Lefèvre, L'Elucidarium et les lucidaires: contribution, par l'histoire d'un texte, à l'histoire des croyances religieuses en France au moyen âge, Bibliothèque des Écoles Françaises d'Athènes et de Rome 180 (Paris 1954) 421, n. 3.

23. Alcuin's `Quare angelicum peccatum silentio in Genesi absconditum est et hominis patefactum? Quia angelicum vulnus Deus non praedestinavit curare, hominis vero sanare praedestinavit' (PL 100.517) can be compared to Augustinus Hibernicus's `Quaestionem vero non minimam intuentibus praestat, qua causa Angelorum delictum Scripturae testimoniis, qualiter factum est, reticetur … Angelicum vero vulnus verus medicus qualiter factum sit, indicare noluit, dum illud postea curare non destinavit' (PL 35.2152-53).

24. Part of Alcuin's argument runs that because the devil's nature was the stronger, he should have been better able to persist in righteousness: `Item, quanto sublimior angelus in gloria, tanto major in ruina: homo vero quanto fragilior in natura, tanto facilior ad veniam' (PL 100.517). His use of the correlatives tanta … quanta in this context is also found in Tractatus 110 of Augustine's In Johannis euangelium tractatus (PL 35.1924) and in his Liber operis imperfecti contra Julianum (PL 45.1553). The same construction is found in Ambrose's In psalmum David CXVIII expositio (PL 15.1319), Gregory's Moralia (CCSL 143.510) and Isidore's Sententiae (PL 83.555). Alcuin presents the same argument in the same terms in De Trinitate (PL 42.1176).

25. `Peccatum angeli tacitum, hominis patefactum: quia illud incurabile, hoc curatum' (PL 113.94).

26. Alcuin writes to Arno, successor of the Irish bishop St Fergal of Salzburg, in 800, telling how he `was travelling from the Palace on June 26th, when your faithful servant Dominicus found me four leagues from St Amandus in the hospice of St Martin'. Letter 109, trans. S. Allott, Alcuin of York: his life and letters (York 1974) 115.

27. Latin text, A. Mutzenbecher, Maximi episcopi Taurinensis sermones, CCSL 23 (Turnhout 1962) 409-10.

28. Caps. 10, 13, 14: PL 120.1305-6; 1315; 1321. On how Paschasius was influenced by the work of Manchianus, Augustinus Hibernicus's teacher, see Jean Rittmuller, `The Gospel commentary of Máel Brigte Ua Máeluanaig and its Hiberno-Latin background', Peritia 2 (1983) 185-214: 201.

29. Some of the sententiae associated with the eleventh- and twelfth-century French scholastics were edited by O. Lottin, Psychologie et morale aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles v: Problèmes d'histoire littéraire: L'école d'Anselme de Laon et de Guillaume de Champeaux (Gembloux 1959). For examples, see Lottin 131 and 217.

30. For Anselm's letter to Heribrand condemning Rupert, see R. Silvestre, `À propos de la lettre d'Anselme de Laon à Héribrand de Saint-Laurent', Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale 28 (1961) 5-25.

31. Cross, Cambridge Pembroke College Ms 25, 84.

32. A. Wilmart, `Catéchèses celtiques', Analecta reginensia: extraits des manuscrits latins de la reine Christine conservés au Vatican, Studi e Testi 59 (Vatican 1933) 72-9. For more on this work, see Lapidge and Sharpe, A bibliography of Celtic-Latin literature 268, item 974, where it is listed in the section for literature relating to Brittany. For its Irish background, see P. Grosjean, `À propos du manuscrit 49 de la reine Christine', Analecta Bollandiana 54 (1936) 113-136; G. M. Vian, `Le catechesi celtiche pubblicate da André Wilmart', Romanobarbarica 6 (1981-2) 345-59 and D. Ó Laoghaire, `Irish elements in the Catechesis celtica', in P. Ní Chatháin and M. Richter (ed) Ireland and Christendom: the Bible and the missions (Stuttgart 1987) 146-64.

33. Latin text, Wilmart, 77.

34. John Chrysostom, Homily 22 on John's Gospel, says, `But now to show that it is He who transmutes water in the vine plants, and who converts the rain by its passage through the root into wine, He effected that in a moment at the wedding which in the plant is long in doing'. Trans. in P. Schaff (ed) A select library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church XIV (New York 1898) 77.

35. Latin text, PL 35.1450. See also De ciuitate dei X, 13 (PL 41.13): `Quamvis itaque miracula visibilium naturarum videndi assiduitate viluerunt; tamen cum ea sapienter intuemur, inusitatissimis rarissimisque majora sunt'.

36. PL 38.1139: `In diebus paschalibus: De resurrectione corporum, contra Gentiles. Praeter consuetudinem facit Deus miracula, quia Deus est. Majora quidem miracula sunt, tot quotidie homines nasci qui non erant, quam paucos resurrexisse qui erant'.

37. `We tell it like you remember: one dead man arose and men were struck senseless while every day people who never even existed before are born and no one is surprised. And so who is not amazed that water was changed into wine, when God does this through the vines every year?' For Latin text, see PL 35.1458.

38. PL 35.1593: `Majus enim miraculum est gubernatio totius mundi, quam saturatio quinque millium hominum de quinque panibus: et tamen haec nemo miratur: illud mirantur homines non quia majus est, sed quia rarum est. Quis enim et nunc pascit universum mundum, nisi ille qui de paucis granis segetes creat?'

39. `Quapropter et panem de parvo semine juxta inferiorem rationem in magnam segetem per longi temporis administrationem innumerabilium hominum pastum procreat; quem secundum superiorem rationem de materia modica in momento per benedictionem multiplicat' (PL 35.2198).

40. Augustine uses the same terms (contra naturae usitatum cursum) in his explanation of this miracle in GAL VI, 13-14.

41. M. Adriaen, S. Gregorii Magni Moralia in Iob, CCSL 143 (Turnhout 1979) 296.

42. Taio appears in the records as a bishop for the first time in the acts of the eighth Council of Toledo, held in 653.

43. For example, Tractatus in Joannis euangelium XXIV, 1: `Miracula quae fecit Dominus noster Jesus Christus, sunt quidem divina opera, et ad intelligendum Deum de visibilibus admonent humanam mentem …' (PL 35.1592-3).

44. On the rationes seminales, see M. J. McKeough, The meaning of the `rationes seminales' in St. Augustine (Washington DC, 1926); P. Agaësse and A. Solignac (ed) La Genèse au sens littéral en douze livres, Bibliothèque augustinienne, Oeuvres de saint Augustin 48-49 (Bruges-Paris 1972) esp. 685-90. On the importance of the rationes seminales for Augustine's understanding of miracles, see D. P. De Vooght, `La notion philosophique du miracle chez saint Augustin', Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale 10 (1938) 317-343. Augustine deals with the Platonic concept of the ideae in quaestio 46 (De ideis) of De diversis quaestionibus octaginta tribus (PL 40.29-31). On this, see J. Pépin, `Augustin, quaestio "De ideis." Les affinités plotiniennes', in H. J. Westra (ed) From Athens to Chartres, Neoplatonism and medieval thought: Studies in honour of Edouard Jeaneau (Leiden 1992) 117-34.

45. References to the materia informis occur with some frequency in Hiberno-Latin literature. A Hiberno-Latin commentary on Genesis quotes Wisdom 11:18, `Denique Scritpura ait: "Qui fecisti mundum de materia informi"' (PL 91.191). It relates the timing of the creation of the materia informis to the vox/verbum debate. Since much of this commentary is taken from Augustine, it may rely on GAL I, 4-5 (PL 34.2567) or on Augustine's Contra aduersarium legis et prophetarum I, 8 (PL 42.609-10) where Augustine quotes Wisdom 11:18 in relation to vox/verbum. The last example is also quoted by Sedulius Scottus in his Collectaneum (CCCM 67.211). In GAL I, 15 Augustine says that the materia informis preceded everything in the order of creation, not in terms of time. Eugippius included this information in his Excerpta ex operibus s. Augustini and Sedulius puts this in the Collectaneum (CCCM 67.219): `Conditor omnipotens informem materiam sed formabilem condidit, ut formationem suam, non tempore, sed origine, preveniret'. The Collectaneum introduces Lactantius's Instructiones II, 8, 14-19, with the heading De informi materia (CCCM 67.273). To return to the first citation from the Irish commentary on Genesis referred to above, the text continues `Proinde duas restante [recte res ante] omnem diem et ante omne tempus condidit [Deus], angelicam videlicet creaturam, et informem materiam' (PL 91.191). Identical pieces in Hiberno-Latin literature credit Isidore with this information (see John Carey, `Cosmology in Saltair na Rann', Celtica 17 (1985) 33-52: 35). The piece is indeed from Isidore and the Hiberno-Latin commentary on Genesis in St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 908, p. 3 (also pp. 4-5) says it comes from the Differentiae: `Inde in Libro Differentiarum Ysidorus clarissime haec declarat, dicens, "ante omnem diem, ante omne tempus, duas res condedit deus: angelicam, uidelicet, creaturam et informem materiam"' (from Isidore, Diff. II, 11, PL 83.74-5, the same in his Sententiae, PL 83.547).

46. Having compared the heaven and earth of Gen. 1.1 to the materia informis in GCM I, 7, Augustine then calls this heaven and earth `the seed', see PL 34.178.

47. I. P. Sheldon-Williams, Iohannis Scotti Eriugenae `Periphyseon' (De diuisione naturae) iii, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae XI (Dublin 1981) 168. See D. Moran, The philosophy of John Scottus Eriugena: a study of idealism in the middle ages (Cambridge 1989) 63, 264-5 for discussion and references to Periphyseon I.446b-c and III.681c.

48. `Alii quippe vocabuluo coeli et terrae ipsam informem materiam, ex qua creatum est coelum et terram … Ipsa enim confusa materia quasi semen coeli et terrae erat' (PL 115.113).

49. De Trin. III, 5, Miracula cur non consueta opera: `Quis attrahit humorem per radicem vitis ad botrum, et vinum fecit, nisi Deus, qui et homine plantante et rigante incrementum dat? Sed cum ad nutum Domini aqua in vinum inusitata celeritate conversa est, etiam stultis fatentibus vis divine declarata est' (PL 42.874).

50. See the comments of M. Smyth, `The physical world in seventhcentury Hiberno-Latin texts', Peritia 5 (1986) 201-34: 213-14 and 233 where Smyth says that Augustinus Hibernicus may not have had the full text of De genesi or, if he did, he may not have understood the rationes seminales.

51. GAL I, 1, 3 (PL 34.247); V, 5, 13 (PL 34.326). Augustine takes the water of Gen. 1:2 also to be the materia informis in GAL I, 5 (PL 34.250).

52. GCM I, 7 (PL 34.178). He says that terra might well be called the materia informis because of all substances, earth is less beautiful than the others: `However, he still wished to call this formless matter the invisible and simple earth because among all the elements of the world, earth seems less beautiful than the others' (PL 34.179).

53. CCSL 27, 232.

54. PL 42.874: `Et lignis certe omnibus et omnium animalium carnibus gignendis atque formandis communis est terrena materies: et quis ea facit, nisi qui dixit ut haec terra produceret, et in eodem verbo suo quae creavit, regit atque agit? Sed cum eamdem materiam ex virga Moysi in carnem serpentis proxime ac velociter vertit miraculum fuit, rei quidem mutabilis, sed tamen inusitata mutatio'.

55. PL 42.875: `Omnium quippe rerum quae corporaliter visibiliterque nascuntur, occulta quaedam semina in istis corporeis mundi hujus elementis latent. Alia sunt enim haec jam conspicua oculis nostris ex fructibus et animantibus, alia vero illa occulta istorum seminum semina …'.

56. `Sed si omnia, quae de terra facta sunt, in alterutrum mutari vicissim conceduntur, hoc est, ut animal in arborem, panis in lapidem, homo in volucrem verti posse concedatur' (PL 34.2164).

57. `… nihil ex his firmiter possit intra suae naturae terminos permanere'.

58. `… ac per hoc Deum in his non gubernatorem, sed mutatorem naturarum dicemus: quod absit, ne illum post primam naturarum omnium conditionem, aliquid novum, quod non propria natura retineat, facere credamus'.

59. `… ita ut in die sexto cuncta consummasse, quae ad institutionem et instructionem pertinent creaturae, firmissime declaretur' (PL 35.2151).

60. `… nisi forte putamus, si omnia talia penitus diluvio delerentur, defuturam fuisse Deo potestatem jubendi ut terra ea produceret, sicut primo verbo ejus produxerat' (PL 36.1358).

61. Latin text, CCSL 48.508. Trans. E. Matthews Sanford and W. McAllen Green, Saint Augustine `City of God against the pagans' V (London 1965) 41.

62. Latin text, PL 35.2159.

63. MacGinty, i, 29.

64. `Consideremus ergo cujuslibet arboris pulchritudinem in robore, ramis, frondibus, pomis: haec species non utique repente tanta ac talis est exorta, sed quo etiam ordine novimus. Surrexit enim a radice, quam terrae primum germen infixit; atque inde omnia illa formata et distincta creverunt. Porro illud germen ex semine: in semine ergo illa omnia fuerunt primitus, non mole corporeae magnitudinis, sed vi potentiaque causali' (PL 35.337).

65. The commentary is found in PL 91.189-286. J. F. Kelly, `A catalogue of early medieval Hiberno-Latin biblical commentaries: I', Traditio 44 (1988) 537-71: 557 and D. N. Dumville, `Biblical apocrypha and the early Irish: a preliminary investigation', Proc Roy Ir Acad (C) 73 (1973) 299-338: 315 say this commentary is Irish. Daibhí Ó Cróinín (Éigse 16 (1976) 353) says it may date to the time before Bede. Augustine's point that all aspects of the development of the tree existed at the beginning as a causal power (PL 35.337) is found in this commentary: `Ergo illa omnia primitus fuerunt, non mole corporis, aut magnitudine, sed vi potentiae causalis' (PL 91.205). Augustine's questions about Adam's stage of development at his creation (PL 34.349) and how the rationes seminales were implanted in creation (PL 34.348) are repeated in the Irish commentary (`Si omnium futurorum causae modo sunt insitae, quomodo creavit Deus omnia simul? Non aliter Adam factus est, cum de limo terrae formatus est, sicut jam credibilis est, nisi perfectae aetatis et virilitatis, quae erat in illis causis, ubi Deus hominem in sex dierum operibus fecit'. PL 91.205).

66. PLS 4.2225 repeats Stegmüller's opinion that the work is based largely on Isidore of Seville (Repertorium biblicum II (Madrid 1950) 187, no. 1652 and III, 484, no. 5233). PLS gives the title as De sex dierum oratione [sic], but the reff to the edition in PL are those for De sex dierum creatione. The correlation between the description of the soul in De sex dierum creatione and the Hiberno- Latin Liber de numeris was referred to by R. E. McNally, `Der irische Liber de numeris: eine Quellenanalyse des pseudo-isidorischen Liber de numeris' (unpubl. PhD thesis, Munich 1957) 34-5.

67. PL 93.216. This is related to GAL V, 23 (PL 34.3378).

68. `The Exhymeron was one of the principal sources used in the compilation of [Wicbod's] encyclopedic commentary …' according to M. M. Gorman, `An unedited fragment of an Irish epitome of St Augustine's De genesi ad litteram', Revue des Études Augustiniennes 28 (1982) 76-85: 79. The Exhymeron is the title Michael Gorman gives an abridged version of Augustine's De genesi ad litteram. He says that `The Exhymeron may be a product of the "Munster circle" where Lathcen's Egloga, De mirabilibus sacrae scripturae and De ordine creaturarum probably originated'.

69. `Discipulus: Quid est enim quod feminam dicit creare cum masculo, quae adhuc formata non erat? Magister: Quia de Adam processura erat. Sic etenim in semente arboris multa occultantur. Primo igitur in radice figitur, deinde in qualitate arboris, postea in effusione ramorum, et exinde in viriditate foliorum, et caetera. Ita et femina in corpore Adae latebat, quia de costa ejus fabricata fuit' (PL 93.258).

70. `Alii quippe vocabuluo coeli et terrae ipsam informem materiam, ex qua creatum est coelum et terram. Nec inmerito, quia futurum erat ut ex ipsa formarentur. Nam coelum postea scribitur factum. Taliter dictum est quemadmodum si, semen arboris considerantes, dicamus ibi esse radices, et robur, et ramos, et fructus, et folia, non quia jam sunt, sed quia inde futura sunt. Ipsa enim confusa materia quasi semen coeli et terrae erat' (PL 115.113).

71. Latin text, PL 35.2151-2. The idea that the division of creation existed not in time but in the species of creatures is also found in other works, such the Hiberno-Latin (?) commentary on Genesis in BN lat. 10616 (f 110v-111r) and De sex dierum creatione: `Nam secundum speciem formae non simul creavit omnia' (PL 93.220).

72. Dies dominica II, ed. R. E. McNally, Scriptores Hiberniae Minores i, CCSL 108B (Turnhout 1973) 183-4: 183.

73. McNally's punctuation has been changed and other minor alterations have been made to the text.

74. Latin text, Wilmart, 40.

75. `Item idem in libro De mirabilibus divine scripture ait: `Quamvis per sex dierum alternacionem omnia creata peribentur, non tamen per spacium temporis intelligitur, sed hiis operum vicissitudo declaratur'.

76. The text continues by quoting Augustinus Hibernicus: `Postea namque narrator historie divisit in sermone quod Deus non divisit in operis perfeccione." Tamen idem Augustinus videtur insinuare, in libro quinto et in libro sexto super hunc locum, quod Deus in inicio temporis creavit simul et subito celum et terram et sidera perfecta in species suas. Terre nascencia vero et animalia et homines primos creavit in inicio temporis non perfecta in species suas, sed creavit ea tunc simul in racionibus causalibus et seminalibus …' (Dales and Gieben, 90).

77. Smyth, `The physical world in Hiberno-Latin texts', 232.

78. Simonetti, 238 and nn. 20-21.

79. See above, n. 55.

80. `… et ridiculosis magorum fabulationibus dicentium in avium substantia majores suos saecula pervolasse, assensum praestare videbimur' (PL 35.2164).

81. See A. Fiske, `Paradisus homo amicus', Speculum 40 (1965) 436-59. The Irish Carolingian scholar, Dicuil, quotes from Priscian's Periegesis in his Liber de mensura orbis terrae (L. Bieler, Dicuili Liber de mensura orbis terrae, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae 4 (Dublin 1967) 87-8) on how the souls of dead heroes, as white birds, inhabit an island in the Black Sea.

82. St J. D. Seymour, `Notes on apocrypha in Ireland', Proc Roy Ir Acad (C) 37 (1926) 107-17: 111 n. 5, says that in the Apocalypse of Baruch the righteous in heaven appear as great birds.

83. In the Immram Curaig Úa Corra, the band encounter a troupe of jesters (crosain), one of whom decides to join the voyagers. When he dies, a bird is seen `on the gunwale of the boat' (for bord in churaig) who consoles the band by declaring itself to be the dead jester (A. G. Van Hamel, Immrama, Medieval and Modern Irish Series 10 (Dublin 1941) 102; W. Stokes, `The voyage of the Húi Corra', Revue Celtique 14 (1893) 22-69: 40-1). A jester also joins the band in the vernacular life of Brendan the Navigator, see C. Plummer, Bethada Náem nÉrenn: lives of Irish saints (Oxford 1922, repr. 1968) i, 52-3 (text); ii, 52-3 (trans). Later the band encounter another bird which declares itself to be the soul of a nun (? manches) and that the other birds are souls released from hell (Van Hamel, 105; Stokes, 48-9). The band meet Dega, a disciple of Andrew the apostle, on an island who says that the birds on the tree are the souls of holy human beings (Van Hamel, 104; Stokes, 44-5). A similar incident occurs in the older Immram curaig Máile Dúin (Van Hamel, 39; R. I. Best and O. Bergin, Lebor na hUidre: Book of the Dun Cow (Dublin 1929) 63; W. Stokes, `The voyage of Mael Duin', Revue Celtique 9 (1888) 495).

84. The Hiberno-Latin florilegium Testimonia patrum has a selection from the fourth-century Origenist, Evagrius Ponticus, comparing the crow flying from its nest to the impure soul leaving the body: `Quemadmodum enim euolat coruus de suo nido, ita immunda anima de suo corpore' (A. Lehner, Florilegia, CCSL 108D (Turnhout 1987) 92). The Reference Bible (BN lat. 15611, f 24r) also compares the soul to a bird flying from a tree: `Inde anima cum sanguine effuso migrat more auis cito uolantis de arbore'. Johannes Scotus Eriugena, in the Annotationes on Martianus Capella, says that `devilish monsters' can take the form of birds: `… monstra diabolica qui in forma avium apparent curvo rostro' (C. E. Lutz, Iohannis Scotti Annotationes in Marcianum (Cambridge MA, 1939) 69).

85. The Dá brón flatha nime, an apocalypse of Enoch and Elijah, presents the souls of the dead as white birds in a passage that is probably an interpolation, see G. Dottin, `Les deux chagrins du royaume du ciel', Revue Celtique 21 (1900) 349-87: 376; M. Herbert and M. McNamara, Irish Biblical apocrypha: selected texts in translation (Edinburgh 1989) 147; Best and Bergin, 76. The same is found in the partly derivative Fís Adamnáin (see Dottin, 379 n. 2) and this vision has influenced the vernacular Life of Brendan in the Book of Lismore, see W. Stokes, Lives of saints from the Book of Lismore, Anecdota Oxoniensia, Medieval and Modern Series (Oxford 1890) i, 115-6 (text); ii, 260 (trans). The third redaction of the Tenga Bithnua, an apocalypse of Philip, describes the prophets Enoch and Elijah preaching to the birds as in the Dá brón flatha nime (G. Dottin, `Une redaction moderne du Teanga Bithnua', Revue Celtique 28 (1907) 277-307: 300-1).

86. For a survey of these sources, see A. Campbell, Aethelwulf `De abbatibus' (Oxford 1967) xxxi-xxxii. The birds of many colours that came to Patrick signify that all Irish saints of both sexes would come to him in the day of judgement: `uenerunt ad eum aues multi coloris innumerabiles, ut benediceret illis, quod significat omnes sanctos utriusque sexus autem Hiberniensium peruenire ad eum in die iudicii' (W. Stokes, The Tripartite Life of St Patrick with other documents relating to that saint (London 1887) ii, 500).

87. PL 35.880.

88. `Porro, si ex hoc sensu quis contenderit, animas rationabiles inesse volucribus, ex eo quod in eas revolvantur humanae …' (PL 44.330).

Home | Contents | Bracken notes

© Chronicon, UCC, 1998
Pages created by Damian Bracken