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It would be helpful to give the date of the Libellus at the start (not just in the inforbox).
'famously' and 'popular' are considered WP:POV and better omitted.
"not called into question until the early twentieth century". The scholars you cite are 1940s and 1950s - mid-20th.
"these hypotheses were based on incomplete evidence and misguided assumptions." Inconsistency on number - previously it was one hypothesis. Also 'misguided' is POV. Perhaps "this hypothesis has been refuted."
"Today, Gregory I's authorship" to end of paragraph and the following one about without prejudice. This seems over-cautious to the point where it mis-represents the consensus of modern scholarship. All the sources available to me say that its authenticity is accepted by modern scholars and the article seems to say the same.
"The Libellus is sometime designated as JE 1843, and/or by its incipit "Per dilectissimos filios meos"." This could be relegated to a footnote.
This does not seem logical. Why is Contents after Later use? 'Later Use and Controversy' - WP:MOS would have sentence not title case here. This long section could be split with the first three and last two paragraphs in Later use and the rest in Controversy.
No citation for the last sentence of the first paragraph.
"Bede, the latter of whom inserted the entire text of the Libellus into book I of his Historia," I think it is worth saying that Bede inserted Augustine's questions as well.
In fact, Bede did not insert the questions: these were already present in Bede's copy of the Libellus (he used what is known as a Question/Answer version, which probably arose first on the Continent)Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 22:41, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
"For he had witnessed its recommendations". Best not to start a sentence "For". The last sentence of this paragraph has no citation.
"Boniface also had concerns of a theoretical nature about the wording of the Libellus." I do not understand what theoretical means here. Perhaps theological?
"Here it is important to realize that several versions". A bit colloquial. I would suggest leaving out the first part and starting "Several versions".
The last sentence of this paragraph has no citation. It also repeats what is said above and I would suggest deleting it.
"In 1941 Suso Brechter wrote a book titled Die Quellen zur Angelsachesenmission Gregors des Grossen (roughly The Sources for the Anglo-Saxon Mission of Gregory the Great)" The title is not needed here. I would relegate it to a footnote.
The last sentence of this paragraph has no citation.
"work of Paul Meyvaert in the second half of the twentieth century." This does not seem the right way of putting it since he was replying to a 1959 article - perhaps give date instead.
"meant being siblings (brother and sister!)." I would suggest "meant being brother and sister."
"This is somewhat of a stretch," A bit colloquial.
Thanks for an interesting article. I have made some copy edits - reverse them if you are not happy with them. Dudley Miles (talk) 19:28, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
I am not clear how widely the title Libellus responsionum is used. Stenton does not use it in discussing the letter, nor do McClure and Collins in the OUP World Classic edition of the EH. I think you need to say that the Libellus is sometimes (often?) discussed without being given that name.
Thanks for all the helpful comments, Dudley. I hope I have addressed them adequately. In answer to your comment directly above, I can only say that Stenton is not a reliable source concerning the history of the Libellus. His magnum opus, Anglo-Saxon England -- while impressive for its time, and still useful today in many ways -- is now quite out of date as regards many subjects, the Libellus being one of these. Much work has been done on the Libellus since 1971, including the incredibly important study by Karl Ubl. My own work (I am Michael Elliot, as I'm sure you have noticed) merely echoes Ubl's in many ways. Stenton's book is also written for a general audience, and as such dispenses with many technical terms and Latin titles. That is why, I think, he does not specify the title Libellus responionum, which would be rather opaque to a non-specialist audience (indeed, the meaning of it is still rather opaque to me! I don't think Bede thought for very long before he used the phrase to refer to this, his favourite letter of Gregory's). I would of course not ask you merely to take my word for it, but I can tell you that in fact Libellus responsionum is the title most familiar to scholars working on this subject, and indeed to scholars working on early medieval history in general. I would be happy to provide examples if you would like them. As for why McClure and Collins do not use the title Libellus responsionum I can only imagine that this is because there's is a translation, geared toward an English (and non-Latinate) audience. Translations are not generally considered scholarship (though they are immensely important *to* scholarship, as they are to the general reading public), so I would caution against drawing conclusions from the way McClure and Collins might discuss the Libellus in their book (I'm sure they are both familiar with the term Libellus and use it elsewhere in their academic work). All that said, I am aware that Wikipedia is meant for general consumption, and so should be as accessible to non-specialists as possible. I would therefor welcome suggestions as to how to go about solving this discrepancy between the way academics refer to the work and the way translations/books geared toward general readership refer to it. I do not have McClure and Collins handy, but it sounds like you may have. What do they call the work? I see that Stenton's index refers to the work as "replies to Augustine's questions" ... perhaps that is worth a mention in the article?Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 00:13, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
McClure and Collins refer to it as "an exchange of letters between Augustine and Gregory", Brooks in Early History as "the famous document recorded by Bede". Perhaps on reflection this is a non-issue.
I am also not clear how widely the doubts whether Augustine received it are held. You reference Stenton's statement to the contrary and McClure and Collins p. 372 refer to it as an exchange of letters. I think you should at least quote Stenton by name to contrast with other views rather than citing him for the statement that it may have been received - which is not strictly correct as he did not say 'may'.
In truth, no one knows what happened to the Libellus immediately after it was written. If I recall correctly, Meyvaert once proposed that the Libellus was waylaid on its journey to England -- an entirely plausible scenario, even a probable one I should think. Since Meyvaert's important research on the Libellus scholars have generally accepted that Bede did not have access to anything like a "good" file-copy of the letter, which he absolutely should have had there been such a copy of the letter in register at Canterbury. This has generally been assumed to meant that, at least in Bede's day, there was no good copy of the letter (perhaps no copy at all) in Canterbury, which would be strange had the letter indeed ever arrived there in the first place, so important a document was it to the fledgling mission and to the history of the Canterbury church that we would expect it to have been protected and preserved quite carefully by Kentish clergy. When Stenton suggests that Laurence and Peter might have brought the Libellus back with them to Canterbury, he is doing just that: suggesting. There isn't even any really good evidence for this suggestion. It's pure guesswork on his part, based solely on the fact fact that Bede says Augustine sent Peter and Laurence to deliver Augustine's questions to the pope (Stenton assumes they hung around long enough to receive the answers, which is highly unlikely since in the Libellus Gregory apologizes for having taken so long to reply to Augustine -- the pope was sick when Peter and Laurence showed up, and was prevented by his illness from writing or doing anything for a great deal of time). Anyway, all this is to say that the case for the Libellus *not* having arrived at its intended destination in the first place is actually quite a good one, marginally better at least than the alternative, namely that it *did* arrive in Augustine's hands. I have made some minor changes to the paragraph in question, though I expect they are not enough. Do you think I should go into more detail (as I have here), or is it better better not to go into this issue to deeply, as it is entirely impossible to say for sure one way or the other? (I should say that in an article I am preparing for press, I argue that the letter in fact probably did not arrive in England until the latter half of the seventh century, well after Augustine's death -- it's a good argument, but by no means an incontrovertible one. I only mention it so that you know where my bias lay :) Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 00:13, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
All the sources available to me assume that Augustine received the letter. I have cited McClure and Collins, but Brooks, pp. 88-89 and Blair, The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society p. 68 quote the Libellus in a way which assumes Augustine received it. I wonder whether it is too early to know whether the arguments put forward in specialist articles by Ubl and yourself will be incorporated in broader works. I would suggest moving the comments on this under 'Creation' to 'Later use' keep them all together, and merging the rest of Creation with Title. Perhaps you could then say something like "According to Frank Stenton, Laurence and Peter brought the letter back to Augustine, and most modern scholars have assumed that Augustine received it, but this has been challenged by Ubl in 2008 and Elliot in 2014..."
You say in note 25 that there are two versions, yet you confusingly in 26 refer to a third verson. This needs clarification and it would be helpful to say where cite where these versions can be found.
I've now addressed this. I think (hope) the paragraph reads much more clearly now.Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 00:13, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
I have corrected the licensing and added a category for the image. Dudley Miles (talk) 18:33, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
I think the lead is still confusing. You say the authenticity of the Libellus is generally accepted, so I would delete "purporting to have been written" and the final paragraph.
The comment on the meaning of the word Libellus is still unacceptable in its present form. You are saying scholars say x but they are wrong, which is POV. You could (assuming you have discussed this in your article) say Most scholars say x but Elliot argues that...
It would be helpful to have the details of your and Ubl's works in the references rather than having to search for them in the citations.
I did not realise that you are Michael Elliot. It is very helpful to have a specialist willing to help improve Wikipedia. I have checked the rules on people citing their own works, and this is acceptable so long as they are not given undue weight. There is (surprisingly) no requirement to declare an interest, but if you have no objection it might be helpful to declare on the article talk page that you are Michael Eliot and you are citing your own work.
As you will know, there has been an almost complete lack of people working on the Anglo-Saxons. There are good articles on the early period, but no new ones seem to be coming through. (The leading specialist is concentrating on the C14 dating article.) There are good people working on the post-Conquest period, but at present I am the only one concentrating on the later Anglo-Saxons, and as you will be aware I am an amateur. I am working in my sandbox on Æthelstan A, and I hope I can get your comments when the draft is more advanced. Dudley Miles (talk) 18:19, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
@TLSudal: Apologies for my delay; I've been on vacation for several weeks now. Will do my best to respond to Dudley's latest comments ASAP.Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 21:10, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
@Dudley Miles: OK! Done! I hope I've answered all of your concerns adequately. Gone (I think) is the confusion in the lead concerning authenticity. I removed (most of the) part about the alternate translation of the Latin word libellus, and also brushed up quite a bit the section on whether or not the letter arrived in Canterbury during Augustine's lifetime. Your comments on the latter were particularly salutary; I think the section now gives equal weight to arguments on both sides, and finishes by mentioning that this is still an area of debate within the scholarly community. I have also added more references to the references sections, and splashed a brief announcement concerning my identity in the Talk page. Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 21:22, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
You refer to Ubl and Elliot, but it is usual practice to give full names on first mention. I see you later give Ubl's full name, but it should be Karl Ubl the first time and Ubl thereafter.
"abused by certain of the Frankish nobility, who claimed that the Libellus permitted them to enter into unions with their aunts" Abused sounds POV - and it would be helpful to clarify why an interpretation allowing marriage to first cousins justifies marriage to aunts.
The one area I am still doubtful about is whether Augustine received the responsium. You mention Stenton's view Augustine received an immediate response as a possibility, even though you make clear that it is now discredited, but you do not mention that scholars such as McClure and Collins, Brooks and Blair, assume that Augustine did receive it. Saying that the time it arrived in England is still debated is not the same thing.
"his own interpretative error" Why was it Boniface's error when the misunderstanding was general and he was getting conflicting answer from popes? Dudley Miles (talk) 22:46, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Alright, so I've taken another stab at answering your comments, which remain good and valid points. I've addressed each of the points above directly, and I hope satisfactorily. With one exception: I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on the "there's debate about whether Augustine received the letter" bit in the "Creation" section. And here are my reasons. It is not simply the case that there is a disagreement between newer scholarship (like Meyvaert's and my own) and older scholarship concerning this question: rather the position adopted by Mevaert and myself is the result of looking more deeply into an issue that previous historians left unexplored. More than that, the position on this issue taken by older historians (like Stenton) was not really "their" position, but Bede's. That is to say, in assuming that Laurence and Peter returned to England with the Libellus, Stenton (and others) are not relying on any modern scholars' research into the matter. Rather, they are simply taking Bede at his word that this happened, even though Bede himself was clearly not entirely sure that this was the case. It was indeed quite common to take Bede at his word on most things in the twentieth century. More recent scholarship, however, has shown that Bede was very prone to making jumps of logic and historical assumptions himself, and scholars today are quite careful about taking Bede's History at face value (an excellent recent exploration of the reliability of Bede as an historian was carried out by a colleague of mine in Toronto, and his dissertation on the subject is now available online: https://www.academia.edu/6666945/How_an_Early_Medieval_Historian_Worked_Methodology_and_Sources_in_Bedes_Narrative_of_the_Gregorian_Mission_to_Kent). What this means is that, since Stenton et al. have brought no research of their own to bear on the question of when/if Augustine received the Libellus, their testimony can be granted no more weight than can Bede's (whom they are merely echojng). And if we have good reason to doubt Bede's source of information on this subject (and we do: see Shaw, pp. 107-08), then we have reason to doubt all derivative claims (including Stenton's). It is different with Meyvaert, whose arguments are based on the first ever scholarly investigation into this question. Meyvert's arguments take into account the fact that Bede very often worked from incomplete data, and often had to make assumptions (many of which turned out to be faulty) in order to shape his data into a clean narrative. Meyvaert's research also takes into account independent evidence (mostly manuscript evidence) about the life of the Libellus *outside* of Bede's History and of England generally. Indeed, it is primarily the abundance of evidence showing the early transmission of the Libellus outside of England that has led Meyvaert and myself to conclude that the Libellus was very likely traded around on the Continent for several decades before it reached England near the end of the seventh century, probably in the company of a penitential or canon law collection. All this to say that I think you have framed the question in your mind as a conflict between the conclusions of older scholarship vs. newer scholarship, when in fact the "conclusions" of older scholarship were merely unexplored assumptions. Unexplored assumptions are more common than not even in modern historiography. Challenging these and replacing them with conclusions drawn from fresh considerations of the evidence is how history moves forward. I am sensitive to your concern about waiting to see if "mainstream" historians pick up on Meyvaert's and my own arguments (and perhaps this concern stems from Wikipedia guidelines), but I can assure you we do not need to wait for this to happen: there is simply no alternative to Meyvaert's (and my) arguments on this subject at this point. Maintaining Stenton et al.'s opinion on this subject in the face of fresh, reasoned and more comprehensive argumentation would be regressive and anti-historical. One simply cannot give equal weight to Stenton's and Meyvaert's conflicting opinions on this subject, when Meyvaert's is based on close specialist research and Stenton's is not. Mainstream scholarship has been slow to catch up on recent research on the Libellus, mostly because recent research has been in German and French, and has also been relatively complex and manuscript-based. But it will catch up. Until then, Meyvaert's (and now my own) articles remain the only scholarly examinations of this question. These, at any rate, are my thoughts on the matter as a professional historian. As a wikipedia editor, I recognize that I must defer to your authority, as you are far more versed in what is and is not acceptable practice here. So, all that said, I await your final opinion on the matter. If you insist on changing the paragraph to side more with Stenton's interpretation, then we will do that. Incidentally, I did add another mention of this whole controversy to the "Later use" section, where I include references to both Bede, Blair and (again) Stenton. I could include references to many others here, but since Blair and Stenton are synoptic historians who published books for general readership, it seemed like enough to just cite them. Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 20:16, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
OK I accept that you have access to more up to date sources than me (and of course have a vastly deeper knowledge), and I am happpy to pass a very fine article. The one remaining issue on re-reading is that you seem to explain the difference between the canonical and Roman systems twice, in the second and last paragraphs of the final section. Would it be possible to merge them? Dudley Miles (talk) 21:13, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Done! Thanks so much for all your care and patience, Dudley. I look forward to working with you again in the future.Eltheodigraeardgesece (talk) 16:37, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I have now passed it - great to work with you. I am planning on working on the hermeneutic style - is that in your field of interest? Dudley Miles (talk) 17:03, 4 August 2014 (UTC)