Thursday, November 06, 2008

An Eccentric Reading List, Part 3

As we move into the 6th century, we start moving into difficult territory. The names are much less familiar, as are the works. Here, I would suggest Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. The most accessible edition is probably that published by Penguin Classics and edited by Victor Watts. It is also available online at Google Books in an 18th-century translation by Philip Ridpath, or an early 20th century version by W. V. Cooper at Boethius is late-5th, early-6th centuries, having died in 525 or so. But the book was written in the 6th century.

For the seventh century, I recommend Isidore of Seville (570-636) and his work De Ecclesiasticis Officiis. It is available in the Ancient Christian Writers series from Paulist Press. It is an important early work on church offices, both liturgical and ministerial. His best-known work is the Etymologies, which became a standard textbook for the Middle Ages, but I think the smaller work may be of more interest.

For the 8th century, I recommend Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. It is by far the best known of his works, and perhaps the best-known work of the 8th century. It is also important for our history as English-speaking Christians. Again, I would recommend the Penguin Classics edition. Earlier translations are available online at Google Books, and at

I will return with recommendations for later centuries, but the 9th and 10th centuries are particularly short of important works that are still readily available.

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