Posted by: kljolly | May 29, 2013

faith, hope, and love

While transcribing the Durham A.IV.19 collectar material, I ran across an interesting gloss by Aldred of 1 Cor. 13.13 (fol. 3v lines 1-2).  The Latin with Old English gloss reads:

                                    [vel gileafa]

broð’ nv wvt’ wvnað lvfv hyht godes lvfv

Fratres nunc autem manent fides spes caritas

ðri’o ðasv‘ mara wvt’ ðisra is broðer lvfv

tria haec. maior autem [h]orum est caritas.

“Brothers, now however remain faith, hope, love,

these three; the greater however of these is love.”

[The Pauline epistle readings in this section (Capitula for Septuagesima and Sexagensima) are all addressed Brothers.]

Aldred’s gloss begins with his usual word-for-word translation into Old English.  But when he comes to faith, hope, and love, he initially glosses faith with lvfv (lufu, Mod. Eng. love), a gloss of Lat. fides he uses in five other instances in Durham A.IV.19, although he also uses lufu in its more normative OE association with Lat. amor, caritas, and dilectioBosworth and Toller’s dictionary show lufu only with the latter meaning, not as a gloss for faith.

However, after Aldred glosses hope (Lat. spes) with OE hyht, he glosses Lat. caritas with  godes lvfv, God’s love, perhaps to distinguish it from faith/love. [He runs into a similar difficulty much later in the manuscript at fol. 44v10, with da mentibus nostris eandem fidei caritatisque uirtutem, where he glosses fidei caritatis with lvfv’ 7 godes lvfv.]

But on fol. 3v1-2, he does two other things to clarify matters.

Above the lvfv gloss of fides, he adds an alternative, vel gileafa, a more common rendering of faith or belief.

Then in the next line when he expresses the greater love, caritas is glossed brother-love (broðer lvfv), something not found elsewhere in his glosses.

This in essence constitutes a commentary gloss, raising several questions.

First, does Aldred understand lufu as meaning both faith and love, with some kind of shared overlap in meaning?

Second, was he glossing word-for-word so assiduously that he did not anticipate the obvious redundancy in offering love, hope, love?  Certainly this line from 1 Cor. 13 would have been predictable to someone this familiar with the daily office readings.

Third, why make this distinction between God’s love and brother love in a passage that does not make such a distinction?  Certainly the addition in these readings of “Fratres” invites the meaning of love as applied in a religious community.

Last, do these additions, of the vel gloss alternative geleafa and of God and brother to love, mean that Aldred had an audience?  Was he perhaps conversing with someone about the passage while glossing?

For purposes of my fiction writing, I am imagining a novice nearby.  Perhaps Aldred is asking the student how he would gloss it, then offers his alternatives while clarifying the verse as connecting God’s love to love for one another.  Indeed, he might also go on to apply the meaning to their own community and relationships.  They might not be a reformed monastic community, but the daily office readings as annotated here suggest that they applied the Benedictine Rule’s principles of love in their daily lives.


  1. Very interesting. First let me say I really know nothing of OE, but I could see how faith could be translated as love of God, as in to love God. To be faithful is to love God, different than brother love or God’s love.

    • The thought that entered my mind on the connection between faith and love was the kind of faithful love a vassal owes his lord, but I am not sure Aldred would have that in mind, given his emphasis on brotherly love in a communal setting.
      I guess the question it raises is why he associates faith with love more than belief (or perhaps that is a later distinction). I suppose I could read modern spirituality into this in terms of its about a relationship with God not a doctrinal statement one assents to.
      In modern parlance, “I have faith in you” has the same resonance as “I believe in you.” Throw in hope and it all works together.
      The curious problem is that Aldred seems alone (from an OE dictionary view) in translating fides as lufu. Is this a Northumbrianism? An Aldredism?

      • Doesn’t biblical love = loyalty? A faithful vassel is a loyal one. The love a people owe/give their king is also loyalty. It seems to me that medieval loyalty was often expressed as love, though I can’t give any actual examples other that vassels assuring their king of their love.

        Faith = love = loyalty / fidelity ??

        I wonder if Aldred wouldn’t just assume belief.

  2. The vassal-lord fidelity oaths that come to mind are 12th century, so I will need to think of an Anglo-Saxon context. Perhaps Dream of the Rood or some of the heroic poems make use of lufu as faithful or loyal love. I should probably search the DOE corpus.

  3. I’m suddenly reminded of a discussion of three kinds of love found in a Middle English devotional tract for use at Mass occurring at the peace/kissing of the paxbrede. It’s 13th c. so quite a bit later, but I’ll have to look at it again to see what jogged my memory…

  4. I did check the Greek, just in case 1 Cor. 13:13 switched from agape to phileo in that verse, but no luck. It would have been fun to suggest Aldred had access to Greek or commentaries, but that is highly unlikely in any case.

  5. […] Jolly of Revealing Words who writes about 10th century […]

  6. […] am discovering some insights on Aldred in general and his gloss of faith, hope, and love (previous post) while reading Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe’s Stealing Obedience:  Narratives of […]

  7. […] Aldred plays with mentium and sensus, looking unsuccessfully for variations on ðoht.  As noted in my earlier post on faith, hope, and love, he uses lufu (love) to gloss fides and then adds gileaf (belief).  So as Lockett posits, feeling […]

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