Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader/Ælfric's Preface to Genesis

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[The text follows MS. Laud Misc. 509 (formerly Laud E. 19) Bodl. Lib.; the variants are from MS. Cotton Claudius B. iv. Brit. Mus. (C), and MS. Ii. i. 33, Camb. Univ. Lib. (Ca).]

Incipit prefatio Genesis Anglice.

Ælfric munuc grēt Æðelwærd ealdormann ēadmōdlīce. Þū bǣde mē, lēof, þæt ic sceolde ðē āwendan of Lēdene on Englisc þā bōc Genesis: þā þūhte mē hefigtīme þē tō tīðienne þæs, and þū cwǣde þā þæt ic ne þorfte nā māre āwendan þǣre bēc būton tō Isaace, Abrahāmes suna, for þām þe sum ōðer man þē hæfde āwend fram Isaace þā bōc oð ende. Nū þincð mē, lēof, þæt þæt weorc is swīðe plēolīc mē oððe ǣnigum men tō underbeginnenne, for þan þe ic ondrǣde, gif sum dysig man þās bōc rǣt oððe rǣdan gehȳrð, þæt hē wille wēnan þæt hē mōte lybban nū on þǣre nīwan ǣ swā swā men leofodon under Moyses ǣ. Hwīlon ic wiste þæt sum mæsseprēost, sē þe mīn magister wæs on þām tīman, hæfde þā bōc Genesis, and hē cūðe be dǣle Lȳden understandan; þā cwæð hē be þām hēahfædere Iācōbe, þæt hē hæfde fēower wīf, twā geswustra and heora twā þīnena. Ful sōð hē sǣde, ac hē nyste, nē ic þā gīt, hū micel tōdāl ys betweohx þǣre ealdan ǣ and þǣre nīwan. On anginne þisere worulde nam sē brōðor hys swuster tō wīfe, and hwīlon sē fæder tȳmde bī his āgenra dehter, and manega hæfdon mā wīfa tō folces ēacan, and man ne mihte þā æt fruman wīfian būton on his siblingum. Gyf hwā wyle nū swā lybban æfter Crīstes tōcyme swā swā men leofodon ǣr Moises ǣ oððe under Moises ǣ, ne byð man nā Crīsten, nē hē furðon wyrðe ne byð þæt him ǣnig Crīsten man mid ete. Þā ungelǣredan prēostas, gif hī hwæt lītles understandað of þām Lȳdenbōcum, þonne þincð him sōna þæt hī magon mǣre lārēowas bēon; ac hī ne cunnon swā þēah þæt gāstlīce andgit þǣr tō, and hū sēo ealde ǣ wæs getācnung tōweardra þinga oððe hū sēo nīwe gecȳðnis æfter Crīstes menniscnisse wæs gefillednys ealra þǣra þinga, þe sēo ealde gecȳðnis getācnode tōwearde be Crīste and be hys gecorenum. Hī cwæðað ēac oft be Paul, hwī hī ne mōton habban wīf swā swā Pētrus sē apostol hæfde, and hī nellað gehīran nē witan þæt sē ēadiga Pētrus leofede æfter Moises ǣ oð þæt Crīst þe on þām tīman tō mannum cōn and began tō bodienne his hālige godspel and gecēas Pētrum ǣrest him tō gefēran: þā forlēt Pētrus þǣr rihte his wīf and ealle þā twelf apostolas, þā þe wīf hæfdon, forlēton ǣgðer ge wīf ge ǣhta, and folgodon Crīstes lāre tō þǣre nīwan ǣ and clǣnnisse þe hē silf þā ārǣrde. Prēostas sindon gesette tō lārēowum þām lǣwedum folce. Nū gedafnode him þæt hig cūðon þā ealdan ǣ gāstlīce understandan and hwæt Crīst silf tǣhte and his apostolas on þǣre nīwan gecȳðnisse, þæt hig mihton þām folce wel wissian tō Godes gelēafan and wel bīsnian tō gōdum weorcum. Wē secgað ēac foran tō þæt sēo bōc is swīðe dēop gāstlīce tō understandenne, and wē ne wrītað nā māre būton þā nacedan gerecednisse. Þonne þincð þām ungelǣredum þæt eall þæt andgit bēo belocen on þǣre ānfealdan gerecednisse; ac hit ys swīðe feor þām. Sēo bōc ys gehaten Genesis, þæt ys 'gecyndbōc,' for þām þe hēo ys firmest bōca and spricð be ǣlcum gecinde: ac hēo ne spricð nā be þǣra engla gesceapenisse. Hēo onginð þus: In principio creauit Deus celum and terram, þæt ys on Englisc, 'On annginne gescēop God heofenan and eorðan.' Hit wæs sōðlīce swā gedōn þæt God ælmihtig geworhte on anginne þā þā hē wolde gesceafta. Ac swā þēah æfter gāstlīcum andgite þæt anginn ys Crīst, swā swā hē sylf cwæð tō þām Iūdēiscum: 'Ic ēom angin, þe tō ēow sprece.' Ðurh þis angin worhte God Fæder heofenan and eorðan, for þan þe hē gescēop ealle gesceafta þurh þone Sunu sē þe was ǣfre of him āccenned wīsdōm of þām wīsan Fæder. Eft stynt on þǣre bēc on þām forman ferse: Spiritus dei ferebatur super aquas, þæt is on Englisc, 'And Godes Gāst wæs geferod ofer wæteru. Godes Gāst ys sē Hālga Gāst þurh þone gelīffæste sē Fæder ealle þā gesceafta þā hē gescēop þurh þone sunu, and sē Hālga Gāst færð geond manna heortan and silð ūs synna forgifenisse, ǣrest þurh wæter on þām fulluhte and siððan þurh dǣdbōte; and gif hwā forsihð þā forgifenisse þe sē Hālga Gāst sylð, þonne bið his synn ǣfre unmyltsiendlīc on ēcnysse. Eft ys sēo hālige þrīnnys geswutelod on þisre bēc, swā swā ys on þām worde þe God cwæð: 'Uton wircean mannan tō ūre anlīcnisse.' Mid þām þe hē cwæð, 'Uton wyrcean,' ys sēo þrīnnys gebicnod; mid þām þe hē cwæð, 'tō ūre anlīcnysse,' ys sēo sōðe ānnis geswutelod; hē ne cwæð nā menigfealdlice tō ūrum anlīcnissum, ac ānfealdlīce tō ūre anlīcnisse. Eft cōmon þrī englas tō Abrahāme and hē spræc tō him eallum þrīm swā swa tō ānum. Hū clipode Abēles blōd tō Gode būton swā swā ǣlces mannes misdǣda wrēgað hine tō Gode būtan wordum? Be þisum lītlan man mæg understandan hū dēop sēo bōc ys on gāstlicum andgite, þēah þe hēo mid leohlīcum wordum āwriten sig. Eft Iōsēp, þe wæs geseald tō Egipta lande and hē āhredde ðæt folc wið þone miclan hunger, hæfde Crīstes getācnunge þe wæs geseald for ūs tō cwale and ūs āhredde fram þām ēcan hungre hellesūsle. Þæt micele geteld þe Moises worhte mid wundorlīcum cræfte on þām wēstene, swā swā him God sylf gedihte, hæfde getācnunge Godes gelaðunge þe hē silf āstealde þurh his apostolas mid menigfealdum frætewum and fægerum þēawum. Tō þām geweorce brōhte þæt folc gold and seolfor and dēorwurðe gimstānas and menigfealde mǣrða; sume ēac brōhton gātehǣr, swā swā sēo æ bebēad. Þæt gold getācnode ūrne gelēafan and ūre gode ingehīd, þe wē Gode offrian sceolon; þæt seolfor getācnode Godes sprǣca and þā hālgan lāre, þe wē habban sceolon tō Godes weorcum; þā gimstānas getācnodon mislīce fægernissa on Godes mannum; þæt gātehǣr getācnode þā stīðan dǣdbōte þǣra manna, þe heora sinna behrēowsiað. Man offrode ēac fela cinna orf Gode tō lāce binnan þām getelde; be þām is swīðe menigfeald getācnung, and wæs beboden þæt sē tægel sceolde bēon gehāl ǣfre on þām nȳtene æt þǣre offrunge, for þǣre getacnunge þæt God wile þæt wē simle wel dōn oð ende ūres līfes: þonne bið sē tægel geoffrod on ūrum weorcum. Nū ys sēo foresǣde bōc on manegum stōwum swīðe nearolīce gesett, and þēah swīðe dēoplīce on þām gāstlīcum andgite, and hēo is swā geendebyrd swā swā God silf hig gedihte þām wrītere Moise, and wē durron nā māre āwrītan on Englisc þonne þæt Lēden hæfð, nē þā endebirdnisse āwendan būton þām ānum, þæt þæt Lēden and þæt Englisc nabbað nā āne wīsan on þǣre sprǣce fandunge. Ǣfre sē þe āwent oððe sē þe tǣcð of Lēdene on Englisc, ǣfre hē sceal gefadian hit swā þæt þæt Englisc hæbbe his āgene wīsan, elles hit bið swīðe gedwolsum tō rǣdenne þām þe þæs Lēdenes wīsan ne can. Is ēac tō witene þæt sume gedwolmen wǣron þe woldon āwurpan þā ealdan ǣ, and sume woldon habban þā ealdan and āwurpan þā nīwan, swā þā Iūdēiscean dōð; ac Crīst sylf and his apostolas ūs tǣhton ægðer tō healdenne þā ealdan gāstlīce and þā nīwan sōðlīce mid weorcum. God gescēop ūs twā ēagan and twā ēaran, twā nosðirlu, twēgen weleras, twā handa and twegen fēt, and hē wolde ēac habban twā gecȳðnissa on þissere worulde gesett, þā ealdan and þā nīwan; for þām þe hē dēð swā swā hine silfne gewyrð, and hē nǣnne rǣdboran næfð, nē nān man ne þearf him cweðan tō, 'Hwī dēst ðū swā?' Wē sceolon āwendan ūrne willan tō his gesetnissum, and wē ne magon gebīgean his gesetnissa on ūrum lustum. Ic cweðe nū þæt ic ne dearr ne ic nelle nāne bōc æfter þissere of Lēdene on Englisc āwendan; and ic bidde þē, lēof ealdorman, þæt þū mē þæs nā leng ne bidde, þī lǣs þe ic bēo þē ungehīrsum, oððe lēas gif ic dō. God þē sig milde ā on ēcnisse. Ic bidde nū on Godes naman, gif hwā þās bōc āwrītan wylle, þæt hē hig gerihte wel be þǣre bȳsne, for þan þe ic nāh geweald, þēah þe hig hwā tō wōge bringe þurh lēase wrīteras, and hit byð þonne his pleoh nā mīn: mycel yfel dēð sē unwrītere, gif hē nele his wōh gerihtan.