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BY TIIE REV, J. A. GILES, D.C.L.,
LATE FELLOW OF C.C.C., OXFORD,
THITTAKER AND CO., ALE VARLA LANE.
Of all the works ascribed to the Fathers of the Church, none are so likely to cause difficulty to an editor as the Homilies. For this class of compositions, like sermons in the present day, there was a general demand; and, as is evident from the Manuscripts still in existence, it was usual for copyists to make selections from different authors, so as to form a course of Homilies for the whole year. This is indeed the general character of the volumes of Homilies preserved in our public libraries. That Bede composed Homilies, is certain from his own list of his writings, wherein he enumerates 'Homiliarum Evangelii libri duo ;' and we may infer from this, that although he may have written others, yet those which he expressly published to the world were contained in two books, and treated of subjects selected from the four Gospels. In the Bâle and Cologne editions of his works there are nearly two hundred homilies ascribed
to Bede: but the great inequality not only in their length but also in their merit, the difference of style, the dullness of some of these contrasted with a certain liveliness of expression observable in others, have long since induced critics to look on the collection with suspicion, and scholars have made more than one attempt to discover some means of separating those which are genuine from the spurious. The celebrated Mabillon was the first to elucidate this subject. In the library of De Thou, now the Colbertine library, he discovered two Manuscripts of great antiquity, one of which contained forty-eight homilies of Bede, divided into two books, each consisting of twenty-four homilies; the other Manuscript, which was much older than the former, contained only thirty-eight homilies, in one continued series. At the end of Book I. of the first of these Manuscripts was this note, Explicit Homiliarum liber primus, numero XXV.; but, as we have before stated, there are actually only twenty-four homilies in each book. On comparing the two volumes, it appeared that they contained together forty-nine homilies, and the fact of their being in one of these MSS. divided into two books, with their great antiquity, induced Mabillon to believe that the articles therein contained were undoubted productions of Venerable Bede. Moreover, with the exception of ten, they are all found in the