Book Series Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia, vol. 66

The Bible and the Apocrypha in the Early Irish Church (A.D. 600-1200)

Martin McNamara

  • Pages: 1008 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:1 b/w, 7 col.
  • Language(s):English, Latin
  • Publication Year:2016

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54795-4
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57151-5
  • E-book
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Studies on the Bible and Apocrypha in Ireland from Bischoff's 1954 essay to the present day


« Cet impressionnant volume réunit vingt-six études réalisées entre 1971 et 2012 par Martin McNamara, spécialiste bien connu de la littérature apocryphe irlandaise (…) Le volume s’achève sur la bibliographie des travaux de M. McNamara et sur une ample bibliographie cumulative. De précieux index (Bible, auteurs et oeuvres, manuscrits, auteurs modernes, et enfin sujets, personnes et lieux) permettent une lecture croisée des multiples richesses de ce volume, qui constitue un très bel hommage à la carrière scientifique de l’auteur.» (Rémi Gounelle, dans Apocrypha, 27, 2016, p. 250)

“Again a good number of interesting studies in this respect can be found or re-discovered in this volume.”(J. Verheyden, in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 93/4, 2017, p. 757)

« C’est là une publication fort utile aux historiens de la Bible médiévale et des apocryphes, qui favorise l’accès à des études dispersées d’un grand historien des textes. » (A. Noblesse-Rocher, dans Revue d'Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses, 4, 2016, p. 474)




Martin McNamara studied theology in Rome and later biblical studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome and Jerusalem, and at the École Biblique, Jerusalem. He specialised in the Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible ('Targums'), with a doctoral dissertation in 1965 (published 1966) and has many later essays on the topic, published as collected essays in 2011. He has been active since 1954 in the study and critical edition of Irish texts on the Bible and the Apocrypha, and has written extensively on these topics.


The twenty-one essays in this volume, published from 1971 onwards, together with the introductions and conclusion, treat of the Bible and apocryphal works in Ireland during the pre-Norman period, from A.D. 600 to 1200. The essays cover developments during the period from Professor Bernhard Bischoff’s seminal 1954 essay ("Wendepunkte"), on new evidence for Irish contributions in the field, down to the present day. After an initial survey of research during this period, attention is paid to the texts of the Latin Bible, in particular the Psalms and the Four Gospels, and to the Antiochene influence on Psalm interpretation, as well as to the rich corpus of Irish apocryphal writings, some of them very early (Transitus Mariae, so-called Infancy Narrative of Thomas, texts on the Magi and a related Infancy Narrative). Special attention is paid to the creative biblical interpretation of the Psalms in the early Irish Church A.D. 600-800, and also to what appears to be an early Irish (early eighth-century) commentary on the Apocalypse. It is hoped that these essays will contribute to a renewed examination of early Irish exegesis in this the sixtieth year of the publication of Dr Bischoff’s 1954 essay.



"Fifty-seven years of Study in Irish Bible and Apocrypha (1955-2012)" (Robert T. Farrell Lecture, Kalamazoo, 2012, Part I, unpublished).


The Bible: Texts and Commentaries

Introduction: "The Bible in Ireland and Abroad: Summary of Evidence 2012" (Robert T. Farrell Lecture, Kalamazoo, 2012, Part II, unpublished).

1. 'A Plea for Hiberno-Latin Studies,' Irish Theological Quarterly 39 (1972), 337-253.

2. 'The Irish Biblical Association and its Publication Committee', Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association 25 (2002), 9-17.

3. 'The Bible in Ireland (A. D. 600-1150)', Scripture Bulletin 6.2 (1975-76), 36-39.

4. 'Plan and Source Analysis of Das Bibelwerk. Old Testament,' in Ireland and Christendom. The Bible and the Missions, P. Ní Chatháin and M. Richter (eds.), Stuttgart, 1987, 84-112.

5. 'Five Irish Psalter Texts', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 109 C (2009), 37-104.

6. 'End of an Era in Early Irish Biblical Exegesis: Caimin Psalter Fragments (11th-12th Century) and the Gospels of Máel Brigte (A.D. 1138)', Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association 34 (2011), 76-121.

7. 'The Latin Gospels, with Special reference to Irish Tradition', in The Earliest Gospels. The Origins and Transmission of the Earliest Gospels -- The Contribution of the Chester Beatty Gospel Codex P45 (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 258), 2004, 88-106.

8. 'The Celtic-Irish Mixed Gospel Text: Some Recent Contributions and Centennial Reflections,' in Filologia mediolatina 2 (1995), 69-108.

9. ‘Sources and affiliations of the Catechesis Celtica (MS Vat. Reg. lat. 49)’, Sacris Erudiri 34 (1994), 185-237.

10. 'The Newly-identified Cambridge Apocalypse Commentary and the Reference Bible: A Preliminary Enquiry', Peritia 15 (2001), 208-260.



Introduction: "The Apocrypha in Ireland and Abroad: Summary of Evidence 2012" (Robert T. Farrell Lecture, Kalamazoo, 2012, Part III, unpublished).

11. 'Notes on the Irish Gospel of Thomas,' Irish Theological Quarterly 38 (1971), 42-66.

12. 'The Bird hiruath of the 'Ever-new Tongue' and herodius of gloss on Ps. 103:17 in Vatican Codex Pal. lat. 68', Ériu 39 (1988), 87-94.

13. 'Bible Text and Illumination in St Gall Stiftsbibliothek Codex 51, with Special reference to Longinus in the Crucifixion Scene', in Pattern and Purpose in Insular Art (Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Insular Art held at the National Museum Gallery Cardiff 3-6 September 1998), M. Redknap, N. Edwards et al. (eds.), Oxford, 2001, 191-202.

14. 'Apocryphal Infancy Narratives: European and Irish Transmission', in Ireland and Europe in the Early Middle Ages. Texts and Transmission. P. Ní Chatháin & M. Richter (Eds.). Dublin, 2002, 123-146.

15. 'Jesus in (Early) Irish Apocryphal Gospel Traditions', in Jesus in apokryphen Evangelienüberlieferung, Edited by Jörg Frey and Jens Schröter, Tübingen, 2010, 685-739.

16. 'The Inverted Eucharistic Formula Conversio Corporis Christi in Panem et Sanguinis in Vinum: The Exegetical and Liturgical Background in Irish Usage,' Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 87 C (1987), 573-593.

17. 'Apocalyptic and Eschatological Texts in Irish Literature: Oriental Connections?' in Apocalyptic and Eschatological Heritage: The Middle East and Celtic Realms, Dublin, 2003, 75-97.

18. 'Some Aspects of Early Medieval Irish Eschatology,' in Ireland and Europe in the Early Middle Ages. Learning and Literature, P. Ní Chatháin and M. Richter (eds.), Stuttgart, 1996, 42-75.

19. 'The Irish Legend of Antichrist' in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome. Studies in Ancient Intercultural Interaction in Honour of A. Hilhorst. Edited by Florentino García Martínez and Gerard P. Luttikhuizen (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 82), Leiden, 2003, 201-219.

20. 'The (Fifteen) Signs before Doomsday in Irish Tradition', in Miscellanea Patristica Reverendissimo Marco Starowieyski septuagenario professori illustrissimo viro amplissimo ac doctissimo oblata (Warszawskie Studia Teologiczne XX/2/2007), Warsaw, 2007, 223-254.

21. 'Navigatio Sancti Brendani. Some Possible Connections with Liturgical, Apocryphal and Irish Tradition '' in The Brendan Legend. Texts and Versions, edited by Glynn S. Burgess and Clara Strijbosch, Leiden, 2006, 159-188.


"Looking forward: De Initiis Project Learning in Early Church 600-800" (Robert T. Farrell Lecture, Kalamazoo, 2012, Part IV, unpublished).