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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lindisfarne 9

Eadfrid, bishop of the Lindisfarne church, (was) he (who) at the first wrote this book in honour of God and St Cuthbert, and all the saints in common that are in the island. And Edilwald, bishop of the people of the Lindisfarne island made it firm on the outside, and covered it as well as he could.

And Billfrid, the anchorite, he wrought in smith's work the ornaments that are on the outside and adorned it with gold, and also with gems, overlaid with silver, unalloyed metal.

And Aldred, an unworthy and most miserable priest, with the help of God, and St. Cuthbert, glossed it above in English and made himself at home with the three parts. Matthew's part, for the honour of God, and St. Cuthbert. Mark's part for the bishop. And Luke's part for the brotherhood, together with eight oras of silver for admission.

And St. John's part for himself, together with four oras of silver, (deposited) with God and St. Cuthbert; to the end that he may gain admittance into heaven, through God's mercy, and on earth happiness and peace, promotion and dignity, wisdom and prudence, through St. Cuthbert's merits.

Eadfrid, Oediluad, Billfrid, and Aldred made and adorned this gospel book in honour of God and St. Cuthbert.

Above is the colophon found at the end of the Lindisfarne Gospels. It is a text written in Old English at the end of the 10th century. Here we see a text composed in English which has the significant feature of beginning each major section after the introduction with 'and'.

Surely we are looking at the influence of the Hebrew vav translated into Greek as kai, into Latin as et, represented then by the Latin ampersand & (et), then the Tironian shorthand 7 (et) and finally the English 'and'.

There are also several Greek ampersands but they have a separate history. It is an equally interesting one since two different Greek ampersands appear together in the printed Textus Receptus of Erasmus.

I wonder if anyone has yet written a book on the short history of 'and'. Hmm. Nice thought!



At Mon Mar 26, 02:55:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Interesting. But is this common use of paratactic "and" something about the 10th century? It seems to have been found at the same time in Greek in Constantinople (as you described a few days ago) and in English in Lindisfarne.

At Mon Mar 26, 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Must have been the climate or something. I dunno.


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