Introduction: War!

This short section is taken from the homily on the Maccabees written by Ælfric. As with the main editions you will need an Adobe Acrobat Reader to see the texts. If you do not have one of these you can simply download one for free from the Adobe site (get 3.x or higher).

The story so far...

The Maccabees is one of the most violent peices of work ever composed by Ælfric. Indeed it is notable in the Old Testament for being a history of the often bloody rebellion made by the Maccabean tribe against the Hellenistic oppressors. Ælfric's homily does not flinch from any of this, opening with the brutal torture and execution of the seven martyrs, and then continuing with a comprehensive account of all of the battles waged by Judas Maccabees and his brothers.

However, mirroring the present-day concern with the jusitification for war (see discussions prior to the Gulf War and the conflict in Kosovo), Ælfric too was keen to analyse this. Drawing on the writing of St. Isidore he attempts, in the passage selected here, to solve the problem faced by many Christians of how war can be justified when Christ himself advocated pacifism. Drawing on the experiences of his own society with the Viking attacks, Ælfric details the four levels of war...

Using the contents menu on the left you will be able to load in the appropriate excerpt from the Maccabees (ll. 609-633). In the lower window appropriate notes will appear, as will a full glossary (not just relating to the extract here but to the full edition). This should help you in your translation of the piece.

Stuart Lee (the Editor)