Confusion, Consternation, and Communities in Ælfric’s Letter to Sigeweard
Auburn University (2010)
In studying Ælfric, there are the works for which he is known—his Latin grammar,his two series of Catholic Homilies, his Lives of Saints. However, there is much to begained from a study of his less often considered works, namely his Letter to Sigeweard, known synonymously as Treatise on the Old and the New Testament. The letter waswritten shortly after Ælfric became Abbot of Eynsham in 1005, and five years before hisdeath in 1010. From the text of the letter, we learn that it results from Sigeweard’s specificrequest, one that apparently was given while Ælfric was spending time with him inEasthalon. In about 750 lines, Ælfric gives a synopsis of the entire Bible, while obviouslyonly including the material that he believes is the most appropriate for Sigeweard. HughMagennis writes that the Letter “is the earliest extended discussion of the Bible, consideredas a whole, in a western vernacular language and is one of the major discussions of theBible in medieval English”.