The Scriptures of Saint Patrick: The Form of Patrick’s Bible

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Saint Patrick of Ireland

Saint Patrick of Ireland

In what constitutes the third part of this series, I examine the textual form of Patrick’s Bible. This type of study has not often been undertaken.[1] The situation is such that Marie de Paor has gone so far as to say that since “we do not now possess the actual version of the Old Latin Bible which Patrick probably used, the Latin text… in Jerome’s Vulgate, is the next best thing.”[2] However, this approach to the recovery of Patrick’s Biblical versions appears unnecessarily pessimistic and unfortunately simplistic. While we may not be able to recover the autographs which Patrick employed as his Biblical text, it does seem probable that extant manuscript forms can shed additional light on the form of Patrick’s Bible. Continue reading

SSP: What Were Saint Patrick’s Scriptures?

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Open BibleScripture has played an important role in the history of the Christian Church, and Patrick’s approach to and treatment of the biblical text accentuates a worldview that prioritizes scripture. This part of my study has focused on the scriptural universe of Patrick, as well as his place in that context. Contextually important are recognitions surrounding the liturgical quality of the early medieval Bible, the lack of single-volume complete Bibles, and the existence of two different Latin Bible translations, the Vetus Latina and Jerome’s Vulgate, which were often mixed in medieval manuscripts. Continue reading

SSP: The “Third Part” of Patrick’s Bible

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Early Church FathersBefore turning to our examination of the form of Patrick’s Bible, a brief word must be said concerning Patrick’s relationship with the “third part” of the New Testament:[1] the writings of the Church Fathers. While Hanson argues that Patrick was literally a man of one book who was not exposed to any substantial literature apart from the Biblical text,[2] many readers of Patrick have noted in the Confessio echoes and references to a number of non-canonical early Christian writings. Continue reading

SSP: The Contents of Patrick’s Bible (Part II)

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

SaintPatrickShamrockRemembering the medieval context of non-pandect Bibles (that is, Bibles in multiple volumes), examining Patrick’s practice of scripture allusion and quotation provides insights into not only which biblical books were the most important for him, but also which scriptural writings he had access to at the time he wrote the Confessio. For a breakdown of the number of times that Patrick quotes or strongly alludes to a particular writing, I point readers to the registers included in Bieler, Conneely, Hanson, and O’Loughlin.[1] The following conclusions are gleaned from an examination of these registers and their notation of which books Patrick makes use of in the Confessio. Continue reading

SSP: The Contents of Patrick’s Bible (Part I)

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Gospel Writers

Gospel Writers

Patrick’s overarching approach to the scriptures in hand, I now turn to some more specific considerations of his citations from the Old and New Testaments. Of central importance for Patrick were the Gospels (primarily Matthew and Luke), Pauline Epistles (especially Romans and the Corinthian correspondences), and the Psalter.[1] To briefly touch on the value of these writings for Patrick, the Gospels served not only as the source for knowing Christ Jesus, but also provided the missionary impetus which guided Patrick’s life. His quotation of Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20 in Confessio 40 stands as the clearest example of how these biblical texts provide the foundation for Patrick’s life and work.[2] Continue reading

SSP: Patrick’s Use of the Scriptures

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

patrick21Anyone even remotely familiar with the contents of the Christian Bible cannot help but recognize Patrick’s near constant reliance upon the scriptures in his writings. In the words of J.B. Bury, Patrick “was a homo unius libri; but with that book, the Christian Scriptures, he was extraordinarily familiar. His writings are crowded with Scriptural sentences and phrases….”[1] There are few paragraphs of the Confessio which do not contain numerous allusions to the scriptures and quotations (sometimes streams of quotations) are never far from Patrick’s pen.[2] In short, Patrick’s writings exhibit consummate scriptural consciousness, being filled with biblical phraseology and literarily rooted in the verba of scripture.[3] Continue reading

SSP: The Vulgate

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Vulgate

Vulgate

The second major Latin version of the Bible circulating in the Middle Ages was the Vulgate. Commissioned by Pope Damasus in 383 CE, the Vulgate is commonly attributed as the work of Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus or, as he is better known, Jerome.[1] Jerome’s real contribution to the Vulgate came through his translation of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament (contra the Vetus Latina, which was largely translated from the Septuagint).[2] His revision of the Vetus Latina New Testament was just that—a revision—and in some of the later portions of the New Testament, even that term seems a bit strong for the way in which Jerome used the Vetus Latina to produce a “new” translation.[3] This leads to the complication that, for later portions of the New Testament, it is often quite difficult to distinguish between the Vetus Latina and Vulgate versions.[4] Continue reading

SSP: Vetus Latina

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

063During the course of the Middle Ages two groups of Latin Bibles circulated in the Western world, the Vetus Latina and Vulgate versions. The Vetus Latina (“old Latin”) is a family of locally made Latin translations of both the Old and New Testaments.[1] Two major strands of the Vetus Latina arose almost simultaneously between 150 and 200 CE, one in Roman Africa and another in Europe.[2] In addition to these “original” Old Latin translations, there may have been a fourth-century Italian revision of the Vetus Latina prior to Jerome’s cooption and revision of the text.[3] Continue reading

The Scriptures of Saint Patrick: The Medieval Scriptural World

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

BibleTwo factors shaped the used and form of Patrick’s scriptural context, namely, the “lack of early medieval pandects (single-volume Bibles) and the fundamentally liturgical quality of early medieval biblical books….”[1] There is no doubt that the Bible’s liturgical use underscored its importance during the early medieval period. In the words of Susan Boynton, “The Bible permeated the medieval Latin liturgy: biblical narratives and themes lay behind the fundamental structures of the liturgical year, and scriptural texts were ubiquitous in the form of chants and readings.”[2] In short, the Bible and its message of the Lord Jesus prominently occupied the medieval Christian worldview through liturgical structures, be they liturgical readings, hymnody, the liturgical calendar, biblical interpretation, or communal feast days. Continue reading

SSP: The Confessio

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Saint Patrick of Ireland

Saint Patrick of Ireland

The Confessio was remarkably preserved, having circulated since at least the seventh century, and remains at least partially extant in eight early medieval manuscripts.[1] As for when the Confessio was written, it appears to have come near the end of the saint’s life (“This is my confession before I die.”), after he had spent appreciable time in Ireland.[2] Patrick’s lack of personal names and dates provides little information for an exact dating. Following a general timeline of his life, however, we may safely date the final form of the Confessio to between 455 and 461 CE. The genre of this writing has been a somewhat debated topic, for its contents do not seem uniform in nature.[3] As John Morris writes, “His [Patrick’s] writings were not autobiographical, not arranged chronologically, but are tracts written for specific purposes.”[4] Continue reading