Beatus of Liébana

not before 798

Beatus lived in the valley of Liébana in the Christian Kingdom of Asturia, where he entered the monastery St. Martin (later Turibius monastery of Liébana) and was ordained priest.

A remark of Alcuin states that Beatus became Abbot. Beatus is last mentioned 798/799, when Alcuin assured him of his highest respect in a letter to Beatus.

Beatus' main work is his commentary on the Apocalypse in twelve books, dedicated to Heterius. It's dating is questionable. But it seems very likely that the original version was completed in 776 and reworked in the 80's. Beatus produced this in expectation of the end of the world close at hand, since the sixth age of the world was supposed to end 800. A large variety of partially rare patristic literature was at his disposal.
A map (Beatus-map) of the world in the prologue of the second book served the demonstration of the missionary regions of the apostles. The work was illustrated by the author himself, or at least following his instructions. The Beatus-Apocalypse gained the greatest reputation. It has survived in 32 mostly illustrated MSS. and fragments of the 9th - 16th cent., which belong to the most important and original works of medieval illumination.

  This entry is created completely from the corresponding entry in the Lexikon des Mittelalters Vol. 1, Col. 1746-47
Beda Venerabilis, (Venerable Bede)

* c. 673 near Wearmouth, Northumbria May 26 735 at the twin-monastery of Jarrow

Most of the information we have about Bede comes from his own writings, such as his own biographical account in the final chapter, followed by a list of those of his works he found most worthy, and a letter by one of his disciples, Cuthbert, who witnessed Bede's death, to another of his students, Cuthwin.

Bede was brought to the monastery of St. Peter at Wearmouth and entrusted to the care of Abbot St. Benedict Biscop when he was seven. Biscop, the founder of the monastery at Wearmouth and it's twin St. Paul at Jarrow, spent a great deal of time travelling to Rome and on the Continent, acquiring a magnificent collection of books for the library of the monasteries.
Bede moved to the newer monastery at Jarrow with Abbot Ceolfrith in 685. He was ordained deacon when he was 19 years old and priest at 30. He probably left the monasteries only twice, for visits to Lindisfarne and York. Bede continued working and teaching to the end. His last work, according to Cuthbert's De obitu Baedae only completed on his deathbed, was an Old English translation of part of the Gospel according to St. John. 'None of this translation now survives, but it was, so far as we know, the first attempt to present any part of the Bible itself in English.'

Bede is now mainly known for his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, completed in 731. The History is the first work that mentions the English people, at a time when England as we now know it was still divided into several kingdoms. The historic worth of this work is enhanced by Bede's careful use of his sources and his continual stating of them. Bede is also responsible for the first introduction of the anno domini (a method of dating) in a major work (his History) and its subsequent spreading.

But neither Bede nor his contemporaries saw the History as his major work. Bede's main intention was to aid people in the study and understanding of the scripture. His commentaries on the Old and New Testament comprise about 45 books and began to circulate in England while Bede was still alive. They began to spread across Germany and France shortly after his death. Evidence of the immense popularity of these commentaries are more than 950 surviving manuscripts. Many of these were still being copied in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. One of the earliest of these commentaries is the Explanatio Apocalypsis on the Revelation to John, written about 710-716.

Further writing concerned itself, for example, with education (i.e. De Orthographia), with science (i.e. De Temporibus, De Natura Rerum), or hagiography (i.e. two Lives of Cuthbert, or the Historia Abbatum). He did some translations into Old English, such as the Credo and the Pater Noster. De Die Iudicii, the source poem of Judgement Day II, is also ascribed to him.

From 'The World of Bede', p. 235
Biblical Exegesis

Fundamental to biblical exegesis is the practice of polysemous reading. Next to the literal reading, three others were most widely accepted, amounting to a total of four. This number itself can be derived by typological reasoning. 'Irenaeus, for example, argued for the canonical primacy of the four gospels from the fact that God's world was supplied in fours: as there were 'four zones', and 'four winds' so there were four gospels; four levels of interpretation followed easily. According to St. John Cassian in the fourth century these were a literal, or historical sense, an allegorical, a tropological (or moral), and an anagogical. Tropological related to the Word, or doctrine conveyed by it, and therefore carried a moral sense; the anagogical concerns eternal things. Cassian takes as his example the figure of Jerusalem. Historically it may be seen as the earthly city; allegorically it stands for the Church; tropologically it represents the souls of all faithful Christians; anagogically it is the heavenly city of God.
As a later Latin rhyme has it:

Littera gesta docet, quid credes allegoria,
Moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia.

(The letter teaches what happened, the allegorical what to believe, The moral what to do, the anagogical toward what to aspire.)'

  Introduction to King James Version, pg. XXX