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Ælfric's preface to Genesis (A translator's problems)

in a normalised Early Middle English (East Midland dialect c 1200)

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Alf`ri_c munek gre_teth Athel`ward alder`man ead`mo_dli_ce. Thu_ beade me_, le_f, that ic scolde the_ a`wenden of Leaden`e on Englisc the bo_k Genesis: tha_ thuhte me_ hefiy`ti_me the_ to_ ti_then that, and thu_ cweade tha_ that ic ne thorfte na_ ma_re a`wenden of the be_c bu_ten to_ Isaake, Abrahames sune, fortheam the sum o_ther man the hafde a`wend fram Isaake the bo_k oth ende. Nu_ thincth me_, le_f, that that werk is swi_the ple_lic for me_ oththe eaniye men to_ under`be`ginnen, forthan the ic on`dreade, yif sum disiy man that bo_k readeth oththe readen i`he_rth, that he_ wille we_nen, that he_ mo_te libben nu_ on the ni_we ea, swa_ swa_ the a_lde fader`es lefeden tha_ on the ti_de, ear than the a_lde ea y`sett weare, oththe swa_ swa_ men lefeden under Moises ea.

Hwi_lum ic wiste that sum masse`pre_st, he_ the mi_n magister was on that ti_me, hafde the bo_k Genesis, and he_ cu_the be deale Leaden under`standen: tha_ cwath he_ be the heah`fader`e Iacobe, that he_ hafde fe_wer wi_fes, twa_ i`swester and hire twa_ thi_nen`es. Ful so_th he_ sayde, ak he_ niste, ne ic tha_ ye_t, hu_ micel to_`da_l is be`twux the a_lde ea and the ni_we. On an`ginne of thise woreld`e nam the bro_ther his swester to_ wi_fe and hwi_lum eak the fader te_mde be his a_gen`e dohter, and maniye hafden ma_ wi_fes to_ folkes eaken and man ne mihte tha_ at frume wi_fen bu_ten on his sib`linges. Yif ihwa_ wile nu_ swa_ libben after Cri_stes to_`kime, swa_ swa_ men lefeden ear Moises ea oththe under Moises ea, ne bith the man na_ cristen ne he_ furthum wurth ne bith that him eaniy cristen man mid ete.

Tha_ un`y`learede pre_stes, yif hi_ hwat li_teles under`standen of the Leaden`bo_ke, thonne thincth him so_ne that hi_ magen meare la_re_wes be_n, ak hi_ ne cunnen swa_ theah that ga_stlice andyet thear`to_, and hu_ the a_lde ea was y`ta_cning to_`warde thinges oththe hu_ the ni_we i`ki_thnes after Cri_stes mennisc`nesse was y`fillednes alre tha_ thinges, the the a_lde i`ki_thnes i`ta_cnede to_`warde be Cri_ste and be his y`coren. Hi_ cwethen eak oft be Paul, hwi_ hi_ ne mo_ten habben wi_f, swa_ swa_ Petrus the apostel hafde, and hi_ nillen y`he_ren ne witen, that the eadiye Petrus lefede after Moises ea, oth that Cri_st, the on that ti_me to manne com and be`gan to_ boden his ha_liye god`spel and y`ceas Petrum earest him to_ i`fe_re: tha_ for`le_t Petrus thear`rihte his wi_f, and alle the twelf aposteles, tha_ the wi_f hafden, for`le_ten eayther ye wi_f ye ahte, and folgeden Cri_stes la_re to_ the ni_we ea and cleannesse, the he_ self tha_ a`rearde. Pre_stes sinden y`sette to_ la_re_we of the leawede folke: nu_ y`dafenede hem that hi_ cu_then the a_lde ea ga_stli_ce under`standen, and hwat Cri_st self tahte and his aposteles on the ni_we i`ki_thnesse, that hi_ mihten the folke wel wissen to_ Godes i`leafe, and wel bisenen to_ go_de werkes.

We_ seggen eak foren to_ that the bo_k is swi_the de_p ga_stli_ce to_ under`standen, and we_ ne wri_ten na_ ma_re bu_ten the nakede i`rekened`nesse. Thonne thincth to_ the un`y`learede that al that andyet be_ be`loken on the a_n`fa_lde i`rekened`nesse, ak hit is swi_the ferr fram that. The bo_k is y`ha_ten Genesis, that is i`ki_nd`bo_k, for tham the hit is firmest of bo_kes and spreketh be ealce i`ki_nde, ak hit ne spreketh na_ be the engeles i`scapen`nesse. He_ on`ginneth thus: In principio creauit Deus celum et terram; that is on Englisc, On an`ginne y`sco_p God hefene and erthe. Hit was so_thlice swa_ y`do_n, that God al`mihtiy y`worhte on an`ginne, tha_ tha_ he_ wolde, y`scafte. Ak swa_ theah after ga_stlice andyete that an`gin is Cri_st, swa_ swa_ he_ self cwath to_ the Iu_de_isce: Ic am an`gin, the to_ yow spreke. Thurh this an`gin worhte God Fader hefene and erthe, forthan the he_ y`sco_p alle y`scafte thurh the Sune, the was eafere of him a`kenned, wi_sdo_m of the wi_se Fader.

Eft standeth on the be_c on the forme ferse: Et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas; that is on Englisc, and Godes ga_st was y`feried ofer water`es. Godes ga_st is the Halge Ga_st, thurh hwa_m y`li_f`faste the Fader alle the i`scaftes, the he_ y`sco_p thurh the Sune, and the Halge Ga_st farth yond manne hertes and sellth us sinnes for`yefnesse earest thurh water on the fulluhte and siththen thurh de_d`bo_te; and yif ihwa_ for`sehth the for`yefnesse, the the Halge Ga_st sellth, thonne bith his sinn eafere un`miltsend`lic on e_cnesse. Eft is the ha_liye thrines y`sutel`ed on thise be_c, swa_ swa_ is on the worde, the God cwath: Wuten wircen man to u_re on`li_cnesse. Mid that the he_ cwath: Wuten wircen, is the thriness y`bi_kned; mid that the he cwath: to u_re on`li_cnesse, is the so_the a_nnes y`sutel`ed. He_ ne cwath na_ maniy`fa_ldli_ce: to_ u_re on`li_cnesse, ak a_n`fa_ldli_ce: to_ u_re on`li_cnesse. Eft co_men thre_ engeles to Abrahame, and he_ sprak to_ hem alle thre_ swa_ swa_ to_ a_ne. Hu_ clepede Abeles blo_d to Gode bu_ten swa_ swa_ ealces mannes mis`de_des wre_yen him to_ Gode bu_ten wordes? Be thise li_tele man may understanden, hu_ de_p the bo_k is on ga_stlice andyete, theah the hit mid le_hte wordes a`writen si_.

Eft Iosep, the was y`sa_ld to Egipte`lande and he_ a`redde that folk with the micle hunger, hafde Cri_stes i`ta_cninge, the was y`sa_ld for us to_ cwale and us a`redde fram the e_ce hungere of helles susele. That micele i`teld, the Moises worhte mid wunderlice crafte on the we_stene, swa_ swa_ him God self y`dihte, hafde i`ta_cninge Godes i`lathinge, the he_ self a`sta_lde thurh his aposteles mid maniy`fa_lde fratwe and fayere theawes. To_ the werke brohte that folk gold and selfer and de_r`wurthe yim`sta_nes and maniy`fa_lde mearthe; sume eak brohten ga_te`hear, swa_ swa_ the ea be`bead. That gold y`ta_cnede u_re i`leafe and u_re go_de inihi_d, the we_ Gode offren sculen; that selfer y`ta_cnede Godes spreace and the halge la_re, the we_ habben sculen to_ Godes werke; the yim`sta_nes y`ta_cneden mislice fayernesse on Godes manne; that ga_te`hear y`ta_cnede tha_ sti_the de_d`bo_te of the manne, the here sinnes be`re_wsen. Man offrede eak fele kinnes orf to_ Gode to_ la_ke binnen the i`telde; be that is swi_the maniy`fa_ld y`ta_cning, and was be`boden that the tayl scolde be_n i`ha_l eafere on the ne_ten`e at the offringe, for the y`ta_cninge that God wile that we_ simble wel do_n oth ende u_res li_fes; thonne bith the tayl y`offred on u_re werke.

Nu_ is the fore`sayde bo_k on maniye sto_wes swi_the naruli_ce y`sett, and theah swi_the de_pli_ce on the ga_stlice andyete; and hit is swa_ y`endebird, swa_ swa_ God self hit y`dihte to_ the wri_ter`e Moise, and we_ ne durren na_ ma_re a`wri_ten on Englisc thonne the Leaden hafth, ne the endebirdnesse a`wenden, bu_ten that a_ne, that the Leaden and the Englisc nabben na_ a_ne wi_se on the spreaces fadinge: eafere the the a`wendeth oththe the the teaceth of leaden`e on Englisc, eafere he_ scal y`faden hit swa_ that the Englisc habbe his a_gen`e wi_se, elles hit bith swi_the i`dwalsum to_ readen for him the the leaden`es wi_se ne can. Is eak to_ witen that sume i`dwal`men wearen the wolden a`werpen the a_lde ea, and sume wolden habben the a_lde and a`werpen the ni_we, swa_ the Iu_de_isce do_n; ak Cri_st self and his aposteles us tahten eayther to_ ha_lden, the a_lde ga_stli_ce and the ni_we so_thli_ce mid werkes. God y`sco_p us twa_ eagen and twa_ eares, twa_ nos`thireles, twe_yen weler`es, twa_ handes and twe_yen fe_t, and he_ wolde eak habben twa_ i`ki_thnesse on thise worelde y`sett, the a_lde and the ni_we; forthan the he_ de_th swa_ swa_ him self y`werth, and he_ neanne read`bore nafth, ne na_n man ne tharf him cwethen to_, Hwi_ de_st thu_ swa_? We_ sculen a`wenden u_re wille to_ his i`setnesse, and we_ ne magen y`be_yen his i`setnesse on u_re lust.

Ic cwethe nu_ that ic ne dar ne ic nille na_ne bo_k after thise of leaden`e on Englisc a`wenden; and ic bidde the_, le_f alder`man, that thu_ me_ of that na_ leng ne bidde, the leaste ic be_ the_ uni`he_rsum, oththe leas yif ic do_. God the_ si_ mi_lde a_ on e_cnesse. Ic bidde nu_ on Godes name, yif hwa_ that bo_k a`wri_ten wille, that he_ hit y`rihte wel be the bisene, forthan the ic ne a_h y`wa_ld, theah the hit hwa_ to_ wo_ge y`bringe thurh lease wri_ter`es, and hit bith thonne his pleh na_ mi_n: micel ifel de_th the un`wri_ter`e, yif he_ nille his i`writ y`rihten.