Beda Ctihodný - Verax historicus?
BEDA VENERABILIS – VERAX HISTORICUS?
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This paper analyses the terms vera lex historae and verax historicus in the Historia Ecclestiastica gentis Anglorum Bedae Venerabilis. It discusses the opinion of a Czech translator of this work, Jaromír Kincl, who considers Bede Venerable basically a historian of modern type, sceptical to miracles and carrying out historical criticism of his sources on behalf of objective historical truth. Bede uses the term vera lex historiae for the first time in his Expositio in Lucam, in which he similarly to Jerome (Adversus Helvidium) suggests that even an erroneous or heretical opinio vulgi can serve a didactic purpose. In the Historia Ecclestiastica Bede perceives the vera lex historiae in a different sense. It is definitely not the ‘true law of history’ but only a principle saying that the author can leave all responsibility for the factual to his sources (fama vulgans). The term verax historicus does not reflect this vera lex historiae – for Bede, verax historicus has to give moral lessons and write instructive factual narrative in accordance to Christian (Roman) orthodoxy. Bede’s cautious selectivity of miracles, often acknowledged by scholars, is not caused by any scepticism to their reality. He mentions a considerable number of miracles in the Historia Ecclestiastica and also in his Vita s. Cuthberti, but his orthodoxy leads him to depend upon recognized parallels in authorised texts (above all the Dialogorum libri IV of Pope Gregory the Great). In order to find suitable didactic examples, Bede does not hesitate to use his sources and authorities (Adamnan’s Vita s. Columbae, Vita s. Wilfrithi) and to adapt these or even create new analogies.
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