Israel the Grammarian

Israel the Grammarian was one of the leading European scholars of the mid-tenth century. In the 930s, he was at the court of King Æthelstan of England. The consensus of modern scholarship is in favour of an Irish origin, but the matter has not been properly investigated.

About Israel the Grammarian in brief

Summary Israel the GrammarianIsrael the Grammarian was one of the leading European scholars of the mid-tenth century. In the 930s, he was at the court of King Æthelstan of England. Israel was an accomplished poet, a disciple of the ninth-century Irish philosopher John Scottus Eriugena. He wrote theological and grammatical tracts, and commentaries on the works of other philosophers and theologians. The reign of Charlemagne saw a revival in learning in Europe from the late eighth century, known as the Carolingian Renaissance. Israel is recorded as a bishop, and at the end of his life he was a monk at the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Maximin in Trier. The consensus of modern scholarship is in favour of an Irish origin, but the matter has not been properly investigated. Giving children Old Testament Hebrew names such as Israel was common in Celtic areas in the tenth century.

Israel’s presence in England is known from a book written in Ireland about 1140, which contains a copy of a tenth-century drawing and explanation of a board game called Alea Evangelii, based on canon tables. According to a translation by Lapidge, Israel is the third person in the book to have been a Roman scholar, meaning that he interprets that book as ‘Roman scholar’ In a later note, Dub Innse’s first person to note Israel as aRoman scholar is said to have changed to ‘Roman Scholar’ in a note on the manuscript: The twelfth-century copy appears to show that Israel is a third person to interpret this passage as ‘Roman scholar’. In 2007, Michael Wood revived the Irish theory, questioning whether Flodoard’s “Israel Britto’ means ‘Israel Britton’ and stating that Israel was Irish.