Three Homilies from Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41: The Assumption, St. Michael and the Passion
A.J. Pell is editor of the Canadian Evangelical Review and an instructor
of Liturgy, Anglican Studies Program, Regent College, Vancouver.
There are times when the work of a scholar in one discipline can enrich the studies of those engaged in a different field. This volume represents just such an occasion. Raymond J.S. Grant is a professor of English at the University of Alberta; his field is Anglo-Saxon. Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41 is an early eleventh century manuscript version of the Old English Historica Ecclesiastica by the Venerable Bede. Added to this work are six anonymous mid-eleventh century homilies which are found in the margins and at the end of the Bede text. Grant has used his expertise to translate the three previously unpublished Anglo-Saxon homilies and has thus made them available to theologians.
Each of these homilies, “The Assumption of the Virgin”, “In Praise of St. Michael,” and “The Passion of the Lord,” is reproduced with the text in the original Anglo-Saxon on left-hand pages and the modern English translation on the facing page. The editor provides an introduction to the whole CCCC 41 document at the beginning of the book and then an introduction for each homily in its turn. Because of the modern church’s tendency to ignore Michael, the notes preceding the second homily are particularly detailed. All of the author’s writings are carefully and extensively footnoted. Each homily is followed by two generous sets of endnotes, the first to indicate the editor’s own decisions on how to print the handwritten text and the second to provide an understanding of the background, possible sources, and scholarly references for readers. Grant is to be congratulated for the profusion and high quality of these various notes.
This volume is of great value in two ways. On the one hand, literary and theological scholars now have these three homilies at their disposal for further study. On the other hand, general readers interested in Christian spirituality from other eras can get a taste of the oral teaching which informed the lives of Anglo-Saxon Christians. Seminaries and universities with post-graduate programmes in English would enrich their libraries with the addition of this volume.