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Augustine: Another Addendum

July 27, 2013

As I compiled my corpus of texts for this project (or “constellation,” see here), I kept wondering what I was missing. Even now, I still believe there may be other materials related to Judith that I haven’t discovered, though I hope that I will, or that others will point me toward them. Just the other day, I did come across some texts that I had overlooked, as had other scholars, apparently: texts by Augustine. This came as no surprise to me, especially since I kept wondering why none of his works had come up–with such a prolific author, so focused on the Bible, I figured he had addressed Judith at some point. And he had.

I discovered these texts mainly by wondering, again, why none of Augustine’s works had popped up in my project, and doing some more digging. Primarily, I started searching Augustine’s works on the Christian Classics Etherial Library, since it is both a fairly comprehensive corpus and searchable. This was the point at which I realized how valuable a searchable Patrologia Latina database is, though my institution does not subscribe to it (and understandably, considering the outrageous amount that Chawyck-Healey charges for access). Nonetheless, what I found what significant for my project, since Augustine writes about Judith in four individual passages found in De ciuitate dei, De doctrina Christiana, and De natura et gratia. As far as I can tell from my reading, these passages haven’t been mentioned or discussed in relation to Judith in Anglo-Saxon England. (N.B. Mark Griffith provides what seems to be the most helpful and comprehensive list of “the main medieval [though he also provides patristic references] discussions of, or significant references to, the Book of Judith which pre-date the O.E. poem,” in his edition of Judith [Exeter: Exeter UP, 1997; repr. 2001], 71, n. 240.) What I found in these passages is fairly consistent with some of the other patristic and early medieval passages related to Judith. In sum, Augustine is mainly interested in the historicity of Judith–when it occurred, when the book was written, and how that historicity fits in with the rest of Old Testament history–the canonicity of the biblical book, and Judith as a figure of virtue. Similar interests are reflected in what Jerome and Isidore say about Judith. I quote Augustine’s passages (with translations) below.

De ciuitate dei (CPL 313): Sancti Aurelii Augustini, De civitate Dei, ed. Bernhard Dombart and Alphons Kalb, 2 vols., CCSL 47-8 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1955), I, 517, lines 25-39 and 617, lines 1-9.

XVI.13. In libro enim qui inscribitur Iudith, cum quaereret Holofernes, hostis Israelitarum, quaenam illa gens esset, utrum aduersus eam bellandum fuisset, sic ei respondit Achior dux Ammanitarum: “Audiat dominus noster uerbum de ore pueri sui, et referam tibi ueritatem de populo, qui habitat iuxta te montanam hanc, et non exibit mendacium de ore serui tui. Haec enim progenies populi est Chaldaeorum, et antea habitauerunt Mesopotamiam, quia noluerunt sequi dos patrum suorum, qui fuerunt in terra Chaldaeorum gloriosi, sed declinauerunt de uia parentum suorum et adorauerunt Deum caeli, quem cognouerunt, et proiecerunt eos a facie deorum suorum, et fugerunt Mesopotamiam, et habitauerunt ibi dies multos. Dixitque illis Deus eorum, ut exirent de habitatione sua et irent in terram Chanaan, et illic habitauerunt,” et cetera, quae narrat Achior Ammanites. [Judith 5:5-9]
(For it is written in the book of Judith, when Holofernes, the enemy of the Israelites, asked what kind of nation that might be, and whether war should be made against it, then Achior, leader of the Ammonites, answered, “Let our lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will declare to you the truth about these people, that dwell near you in these mountains, and no lie shall come from the mouth of your servant. For these people are descended from Chaldeans, and they previously dwelt in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the gods of their fathers, which were glorious in the land of the Chaldeans, but they left the way of their fathers and worshiped the God of heaven, whom they knew, and they cast them out from the face of their gods, and they fled into Mesopotamia, and they dwelth their for many days. And their God said to them, that they should depart from where they dwelt and go into the land of Canaan, and they dwelt,” etc., as Achior the Ammonite narrates.)

XVIII.26. Per idem tempus Cyrus, rex Persarum, qui etiam Chaldaeis et Assyriis imperabat, relaxata aliquanta captivitate Iudaeorum, quinquaginta milia hominum ex eis ad instaurandum templum regredi fecit. A quibus tantum prima coepta fundamina et altare constructum est. Incursantibus autem hostibus nequaquam progredi aedificando valuerunt, dilatumque opus est usque ad Darium. Per idem tempus etiam illa sunt gesta, quae conscripta sunt in libro Iudith, quem sane in canonem scripturarum Iudaei non recepisse dicuntur.
(At the same time Cyrus, king of Persia, who also ruled Chaldea and Assyria, somewhat relaxing the captivity of the Jews, made fifty thousand of them return to rebuild the temple. They only began the first foundations and constructed the altar. Because of enemy invasions they were unable to go on, and the work was left until the time of Darius. During that same time also those things were done, which are written in the book of Judith, which indeed the Jews are said not to have received into the canon of scriptures.)

De doctrina Christiana (CPL 263): Sancti Aurelii Augustini, De doctrina Christiana, De vera religione, ed. Joseph Martin and K.-D. Daur, CCSL 32 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1962), 39, lines 29-34.

II.viii.13. Sunt aliae tamquam ex diuerso ordine, quae neque huic ordini neque inter se connectuntur, sicut est Iob et Tobias et Esther et Iudith et Machabaeorum libri duo et Esdrae duo, qui magis subsequi uidentur ordinatam illam historiam usque ad Regnorum uel Paralipomenon terminatam….
(There are others differing in another order, which are connected neither with this order nor with each other, like Job and Tobias and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees and the two of Ezra….)

De natura et gratia (CPL 344): Sancti Aureli Augustini, opera (sect. VIII pars I), ed. Karl F. Urba and Joseph Zycha, CSEL 60 (Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1913), 263, lines 15-23.

XXXVI.42. Deinde commemorat eos, “qui non modo non peccasse, verum etiam iuste vixisse referuntur: Abel, Enoch, Melchisedech, Abraham, Isaac, Iacob, Ioseph, Iesu Nave, Phinees, Samuel, Nathan, Elias, Heliseus, Micheas, Daniel, Ananias, Azarias, Misael, Ezechiel, Mardocheus, Simeon, Ioseph, cui desponsata erat virgo Maria, Ioannes.” Adiungit etiam feminas: “Debboram, Annam Samuelis matrem, Iudith, Ester, alteram Annam filiam Phanuel, Elisabeth, ipsam etiam Domini ac Salvatoris nostri matrem, quam,” dicit, “sine peccato confiteri necesse esse pietati.”
(Then he commemorates those “who not only did not sin, but also are reported to have lived righteously: Abel, Enoch, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua son of Nun, Phineas, Samuel, Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, Micah, Daniel, Ananias, Azarias, Mishael, Ezechiel, Mordecai, Simeon, Joseph, to whom the Virgin Mary was married, John.” And he adds the women: “Deborah, Anna, the mother of Samuel, Judith, Esther, the other Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, Elizabeth, and also the mother of our Lord and Savior, for,” he says, “we must allow that her piety had no sin.”)

As I investigated the circulation of these works, it wasn’t surprising to find material witnesses:

De ciuitate dei (CPL 313)
Durham, Cathedral Library B.II.22, fols. 27-231 (s. xi ex [before 1096], Durham or Canterbury, St. Augustine’s): HG 236.
Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 691 (s. xi/xii, England or Normandy): HG 587.
Windsor Castle, Royal Library, Jackson Collection 16 (s. ix2/4 or ix med., prob. Saint-Amand): HG 760.3 (addenda).
(Excerpts, but not of the appropriate sections, also survive in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 173, fols. 57-83 (s. viii2, S England): HG 53.)

De doctrina Christiana (CPL 263)
Salisbury, Cathedral Library 106 (s. xi ex, Salisbury): HG 717.

De natura et gratia (CPL 344)
Salisbury, Cathedral Library 117 (s. x, Continent?, England before 1100?): HG 722.
Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale 444-52 (s. xi/xii, Canterbury, St. Augustine’s): HG 805.5.

There are, of course, plenty of other pieces of evidence for the circulation of these texts (inventories and references, as with many of Augustine’s works generally), summarized in Michael Lapidge, The Anglo-Saxon Library (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006), 282-91, esp. 284-6.

In short, discovering these overlooked passages provide several more pieces of significant data for my corpus and project. They have also sent me back to primary sources, to search for other works that I (and previous scholars) may have overlooked. I would be grateful for any other references or leads from others. No doubt this process will continue as the project develops.


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