His name was Bede. I don’t know of any other names he had. It is a simple, almost humorous sounding name for one of the most significant scholars in history. It is because of Bede that historians can “fill in the gaps” of our knowledge of the early medieval world (“the Dark Ages”) in Anglo-Saxon England. He was the preserver of knowledge in his area of the world when the beneficial knowledge of the past was in danger of extinction.
Bede was born around 672 in Northumbria in what is now known as England. He practically grew up in a monastery, and was a Benedictine monk most of his life. When you think of monks you may be tempted to think only of hermits who seclude themselves and pray all day long. Some did, and some still do. But Bede was active in engaging the culture around him by preserving the wisdom of the past and teaching it to future generations. Thank God that this man was energetic in copying and instructing others to copy the ancient writings of pagan Greek and Roman authors such as Aristotle, Plato, Virgil, Ovid, Horace and others. He insisted that his fellow clergyman copy the Bible (in Latin) and the writings of the early church theologians (such as Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine, etc.), but he also dedicated himself to translation as well. Bede personally translated the writings of pagan and Christian authors into Anglo-Saxon…a feat that was rather rare in those days.
Bede also translated the entire Gospel of John into Anglo-Saxon, actually finishing it on his death-bed (he died on May 26, 735). Think about that…of all the books in the Bible to translate into the common language of his people, he picked the Gospel of John. I wonder why?
Bede wrote biblical commentaries (using an allegorical method of hermeneutics, unfortunately), grammars and books on “computing” (the science of calculating dates). We can thank Bede, in part, for the Western world, and later the entire world, for adopting the “BC-AD” method of dating world events.
And Bede wrote “The Ecclesiastical History of the English People”, a priceless volume that details for us the history of the Anglo-Saxon people up to his day. Because of Bede and his literary contributions, Europe later experienced a “mini-Renaissance” in the days of Charlemagne (c. 800 AD).
Today, he is called “the venerable Bede” because he is “venerated” in several churches (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran communions).
I certainly think he is a hero who is worthy to be honored.