The ‘Alphabet of Words’ in the Durham Collectar: An Edition with Two New Manuscript Witnesses

Charles D Wright, Stephen Pelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Alphabet of Words (AW), a Latin alphabet text with an interlinear Old English gloss, occurs among the additions made to the Durham Collectar (D) by the priest Aldred in the tenth century. Previously thought to be extant only in D, and possibly by Aldred himself, AW also survives (without the OE gloss) in a Kassel manuscript (K) from the second half of the eighth century, as well as in a defective twelfth-century copy in Karlsruhe (Kr). Most of AW is also incorporated in a Latin treatise on the alphabet ("Audiuimus multos": AM) compiled probably in the ninth century. AW belongs to the genre of "parenetic alphabet," widely attested in Greek but also sporadicallyin Latin, including in a ninth-centuryParis manuscript (P: BNF, lat. 2796) that shares lemmata and glosses with AW for the letters X, Y, and Z. We provide the first critical edition and translation of AW from D, K, and Kr, with variants from AM and P, together with a discussion of AW's genre and relation to other alphabetical texts as well as a full commentary on the biblical, apocryphal, and patristic lore transmitted by AW's lemmata and glosses on each letter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-108
Number of pages48
StatePublished - 2017


  • Aldred
  • And education
  • Durham Collectar
  • Grammar
  • Literacy
  • Parenetic alphabets
  • The Alphabet of Words

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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