Juvencus, Libri Euangeliorum IV, 330 CE


Composed sometime around 330 CE, the Euangeliorum libri quattuor of Juvencus, a Spanish priest and poet, represents the earliest effort to render a significant part of the Bible into verse (the four Gospels). Styled after classical epic and esp. Vergil's Aeneid, the Evangelia is an important witness to the reception of the Bible in popular form. The poem was approved by St. Jerome in his De viris illustribus and remained popular throughout Antiquity and into the Middle Ages. In Anglo-Saxon England, the Evangelia was studied amount other curriculum texts in monastic schools. Aldhelm, Bede and Alcuin in particular knew and emulated the style and language of the Evangelia, a fact that only complicates the transmission and reception of classical lore in Anglo-Saxon England. Surprisingly, the Evangelia has never been translated into English and has enjoyed little attention from literary critics, comparatively speaking. Still, for his efforts and faithfulness to the biblical narrative, Juvencus stands at the head of the genre as 'The Father of Latin Biblical Verse.' Below is a translation of the preface to his Latin hexameter versification of the Gospels.


Praefatio/Preface Euangeliorum LibriIIII