About the Translation

There are other critical editions available of St. Beatus’ of Liebana’s Commentaria book. They are doubtless more useful to scholars and which list many of his sources. But the one being used here is public domain and easily accessible, even though it’s the Madrid one from 1770.

This isn’t a scholarly translation, and my Latin is not all that great. But this is an interesting and important medieval Biblical commentary, and so I’m enjoying working this out.

The book consists of several prefaces, a “summa dicendum” (mostly drawn from St. Isidore of Seville) which is a short explanation of the basics of the Book of Revelation, another prefatory section in Book II on important Biblical concepts (comprising one whole “book” of St. Isidore’s Etymologies), and Beatus’ main commentary on the entirety of the Book of Revelation. This is divided into many “storia” sections, each beginning with a multi-verse passage from the Book of Revelation and a picture illustrating it, often with the picture including concepts and interpretation from Beatus’ comments on it. Most of this commentary is drawn from the Fathers or from earlier Spanish and Portuguese writers, but St. Beatus also seems to come up with original material.

The tone of this book is not particularly “millenial” or “apocalyptic”, in spite of the fact that St. Beatus calculated (in Book IV) that the end of the world was only a few years away. Everybody faced death every day, and that was the same as the end of the world as far as the individual was concerned — so why should any reasonable pious Christian worry? Either you were prepared for God’s Judgment or you weren’t, and either way the only plan you needed was to throw yourself on God’s mercy and love. Easy-peasy.

His major concern is to pass along to monks and other educated people what they ought to know about an important Bible book, to remind them of their duty to work for both their own salvation and the salvation of others, and to lead them toward greater knowledge and love of God — all while using both art and text as part of medieval memory-aid concepts.

I have linked where possible to Beatus manuscript pages and art, for better understanding. These links are found at the end of posts, usually after the footnotes.


The Summa Dicendum and the Etymologies preface are not yet translated.

Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 commentary doesn’t have anything like complete footnotes at present.

I’ve just begun translating Chapter 4 commentary; the footnotes are being added as I go, which is easier.


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