According to scholars portions of Bible were translated by Caedmon; a poet who was once mentioned in a text by Bede. This event can be found on the Biblical Timeline Chart around 680 AD. Caedmon was believed to have sung some poems in the Old English language which were based on stories from the Bible. However, he was not solely responsible for the translation of some Biblical texts.
Who was Caedmon?
A Northumbrian English poet, Caedmon was an Anglo-Saxon and noted for his love for animals when he settled at the Whitby Abbey’s double monastery. He remained at the monastery during the time of St. Hilda. He was able to compose a poem while in a dream, as told by Bede who was a historian during the 8th century. Caedmon soon became a monk, as well as a Christian poet who composed numerous original works.
Based in medieval texts, Caedmon was among the 12 Anglo-Saxon poets whose biographical information was rather incomplete. However, Bede wrote about him and described Caedmon as a gifted man who was brilliant in creating religious verses under God‘s inspiration. The texts from the scripture that was interpreted by him gave him the inspiration to easily compose a poem in the Old English language. His poetic verses were quite extraordinary and inspirational.
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Works and Accomplishments
The Caedmon’s Hymn was regarded as the poet’s surviving work. This was a praise poem composed of nine lines with alliterations. It was intended to give honor to God. He was believed to have sung these lines during the time he was in a dream state. This poem was among the finest examples of poetry set in the Old English language, as well as in the Germanic language.
By the 17th century, a few poems were discovered and believed to have been written by Caedmon. In fact, Archbishop Ussher showed an anthology of Anglo-Saxon poems to Francis Junius, a Dutch scholar. These poems were written in 1000 AD and Junius was a specialist in Anglo-Saxon studies. He analyzed these poems and discovered that these were a perfect match to the description of Caedmon according to Bede. Moreover, these verses included poetic paraphrases of the Book of Genesis, Daniel, and Exodus. There were also poems that dealt with the Ascension, Resurrection, the descent of Christ into Hell and the Fall of Angels.
When Junius went back to Holland, he decided to publish an edition of the said manuscript with all the poems attributed to Caedmon. Thus, it was referred to as “Caedmon Manuscript”, and it is currently found in the Bodleian Library.
According to Bede, several English writers who composed sacred verses imitated the style of Caedmon, yet their works were nothing compared to his. In fact, the literary value of poems by Caedmon was of the highest value. The biblical stories were not simply paraphrased but were all created into a clear image that allowed readers to have a better understanding of these texts. These were referred to as one of the finest English sacred poems that continue to inspire the readers.
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