We have gotten used to the concept of Bede’s Temple trilogy as if they were the driving force behind his life’s work. A far bigger and broader theme can be found on his works, a planned collection of works on cosmology and sacred time. These works stretch from his earliest works to among his last.
An incomplete list is a follows:
- The Nature of Things and On Time, 703
- On Revelations, c. 703
- On Genesis (717-725)
- On the Reckoning of Time, c. 725
- Hymn of the Six Ages (after 725)
- a variety of Letters
This is my list so far. I doubt it is complete. In fact from what I’ve heard On the Song of Songs may fit in here but I won’t know for sure until I read the new translation in a few weeks.
Bede’s interest in the ‘ages of fleeting time’ flow from before Creation to ages yet to come all in equal measure. You can fit virtually all of Bede’s works into this view of time. His works on the historical books of the bible, On Samuel and On Ezra-Nehemiah, for sure. We know from On Time he was inserting the Saxons of Britain into the flow of sacred time, albeit very briefly in the Lesser Chronicle. In the years following his publication of On Time he seems to have become much more interested in inserting more of the history of his own people into sacred history, although he never over does it. He maintains perspective that the English have only a very small role in sacred history. He really only allows himself a couple of indulgences by adding St Æthelthryth, St Cuthbert and Abbot Coelfrith to the greater chronicle in On the Reckoning of Time. The other English additions in the greater chronicle are in keeping with the references to other peoples. It’s not hard to envision Bede’s imagination swept away in the flow of time, surfing on those billows in the mystical ark.