'Bede and the Apocalypsy: Eschatological themes in the Ecclesicastical History
For my doctoral research I am investigating Bede’s beliefs regarding the end of time and pursuing an apocalyptic reading of his Ecclesiastical History. Bede’s belief in an imminent apocalypse has been hinted at but not explored extensively. Medieval historians have neglected Bede’s apocalyptic themes and scholars of eschatology have in turn neglected Bede. Historians have often suggested that the History was intended as a didactic message, but this has never before been linked to Bede’s eschatological beliefs. I am investigating the relevance of these beliefs for our understanding of Bede’s mind-set and by extension, the Ecclesiastical History.
My research will offer an original explanation of the contemporary relevance of a text that is crucial to our understanding of Anglo-Saxon history. I will demonstrate that the History is strongly influenced by Bede’s eschatological beliefs and I will draw conclusions about the overall purpose and didactic message of the text. I believe that my innovative approach to the Ecclesiastical History can help explain certain structural and stylistic aspects of the text. I will pursue a method of detailed cross-analysis, highlighting theoretical parallels between the historical and non-historical texts with particular focus on Bede’s exegetical works. I will investigate whether the History has a place in a wider apocalyptic medieval literary tradition. I will also consider whether my methodology be used to further our understanding of other writers, such as Gildas.
My research is funded by a three year studentship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.