Some Distinctive Characteristics of the B Text of the Old English Bede

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
Elena Afros University of Waterloo Waterloo Kanada

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The B text of the Old English Bede copied in the first half of the eleventh century into CCCC 41 by two scribes differs editorially, linguistically, and rhetorically from other witnesses. Although the two B scribes are generally credited with the alterations, Campbell (1951), Scragg (1990), and Waite (2014) point out that some of the distinctive traits of the B version may have originated in an anterior copy or copies. Waite (2014) also objects to the indiscriminate treatment of the work of the two B scribes as it obscures the contribution of each copyist. The present study examines seven distinctive linguistic characteristics of the B text. To determine which traits may derive from an anterior copy and which ones may be attributed to the B scribes, it compares and contrasts the Bede manuscripts and the B scribes’ practices. This inquiry not only sheds light on the methods of scribal revision but also the English of the first half of the eleventh century.

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