Izydorczyk. The Medieval Gospel of Nicodemus : texts, intertexts, and contexts in Western Europe. 1997.

The Medieval Gospel of Nicodemus :
texts, intertexts, and contexts in Western Europe

Author: Izydorczyk, Zbigniew S., 1956-
Published: 1997
Topics: Gospel of Nicodemus
Publisher Tempe, Ariz. : Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies
Pages: 604
Possible copyright status: Permission Granted to Digitize Item
Language: English
Call number: 0866981985
Digitizing sponsor: University of Toronto
Book contributor: MRTS Online
Collection: IterProject; toronto

At least twice in its fifteen hundred years of history the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (GN) has been a victim of its own success. First, at the close of the Middle Ages, its popularity and prestige attracted the censure of church reformers striving to rid Christian religion of fancy and superstition. Then, half a millennium later, the daunting multiplicity of its medieval versions and manuscripts, extant in most European languages, discouraged comprehensive, crosslinguistic studies of its literary career in Western Europe. Although the past century has shed much light on individual vernacular strands of the apocryphon’s tradition, it has produced no broadly based overview of the GN in all its textual, literary, and linguistic forms. The only generally available survey of its Western vernacular translations, adaptations, and influence remains Richard Wülcker’s 1872 essay Das Evangelium Nicodemi in der abendländischen Literatur. Although it has served well generations of scholars, this essay is by now sadly out of date: its factual information is fragmentary, its bibliographical references are outdated and unreliable, and its treatment of various intertextual relationships rarely goes beyond the superficial. Based on second- and third-hand information, it often frustrates modern expectations of thoroughness and exactitude. That it continues to be used, however, demonstrates a clear need for a guide to the apocryphon’s textual forms, intertextual relationships, and contextual variety in Western Europe.
In response to that need, the present volume brings together a series of essays documenting and exploring the presence of the GN in Western literary traditions of the Middle Ages. The essays cover a vast territory, both thematically and linguistically, for networks of the apocryphon’s translations, adaptations, thematic borrowings, and allusions extended to most Romance, Germanic, and Celtic vernaculars. Accordingly, the medieval languages surveyed here include Latin, French, Catalan, Occitan, and Italian; English, High German, Dutch, Low German, and Norse; and Irish, Welsh, and Cornish.
The polyglot nature and vast scope of this undertaking have dictated its collaborative format. The essays collected here, all but two commissioned for this volume, have been written by scholars specializing in different linguistic and literary traditions. Some have been actively involved in the editing of medieval recensions of the apocryphon, others have pursued textual or critical issues arising from it, still others have been attracted to it through the study of works it inspired or influenced. This diversity of scholarly backgrounds and critical interests of the contributors accounts for the diversity of theoretical perspectives on and practical approaches to the apocryphon in the present volume. However, the substance and character of each essay are determined not solely by the author’s critical ideology but also, and perhaps more fundamentally, by the extent of the GN‘s presence in a particular linguistic tradition and the current state of scholarship on it.

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Díaz y Díaz [Comp.]. Isidoriana; colección de estudios sobre Isidoro de Sevilla. 1961.

Isidoriana; colección de estudios sobre Isidoro de Sevilla (1961)

Author: Díaz y Díaz, Manuel C., comp
Subject: Isidore, of Seville, Saint, d. 636
Publisher: León, Centro de Estudios “San Isidro,”
Language: Spanish; English; French; German; Italian
Call number: BX4700.I78 D52 1961
Digitizing sponsor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Book contributor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Collection: majorityworldcollection; Princeton; americana

Díaz y Díaz (Comp.). Isidoriana; Colección de estudios sobre Isidoro de Sevilla. 1961. by Patrologia Latina, Graeca et Orientalis

Quote. Robert M. Grant. ‘Early Christians and Animals’, Ch. 4, “Alexandrians and the Phisiologus”, 3: Clement. 1999.

The primary work of Clement of Alexandria, in eight books, was his Stromateis or Miscellanies. Like Aelian, he used a good source (an epitome of Aristotle’s History of Animals by Aristophanes of Byzantium), but added a good deal of erudite nonsense. As an Alexandrian, Clement is naturally concerned with Egyptian matters. He refers to “the gods of Egypt such as cats and weasels,” as well as “cat or crocodile or native snake.” On a literary level he analyzes Egyptian writing as epistolographic (= demotic) or hieratic or hieroglyphic. There are two kinds of hieroglyphs, literal and symbolical, while the symbolical in turn is divided into three: (1) literal by imitation (the sun is a circle, the moon looks like a moon), (2) figurative, and (3) allegorical using enigmas. He illustrates the third type by stars depicted as snakes because of their oblique orbits, the sun as a beetle because it fashions a ball of ox-dung and rolls it before its face. Later he discusses the symbolical meanings of animals in the hieroglyphs. Some Egyptians show the sun on a ship, others on a crocodile; they mean that the sun generates time, or else that the crocodile symbolizes time. On the sacred Pylon at Diospolis there was a boy, the symbol of generation, and an old man, decay. A hawk was the symbol of God, a fish of hatred, while the crocodile can mean shamelessness. Taken together, the symbols mean this: “You who are born and die, God hates shamelessness.” (This last account is close to Plutarch, except that he locates the carving in the temple of Athena at Sais and identifies the shameless animal as the hippopotamus.) In addition, the lion symbolizes strength and vigor; the ox, agriculture and nourishment; the horse, courage and boldness; the sphinx, strength with understanding, for it has the body of a lion, the face of a man. A man symbolizes intelligence, memory, power, and art. In the processions of the gods they carry gold images: two dogs, one hawk, and one ibis. The dogs symbolize two hemispheres; the hawk the sun, the ibis the moon; or else the dogs are the tropics, the hawk the equinoctial line, and the ibis the ecliptic. The errors in this exegesis are comparable only to those in the Hieroglyphics of Horapollo, who wrote several centuries after Clement, but relied on similar sources. Both authors took the symbols seriously but did not know what they meant.

When Clement attacked anthropomorphists who held that God literally enjoys smelling the smoke of sacrifices (Gen. 8:21), he turned to natural history for analogies. Do insects breathe or not? Clement marshalled a scientific account of breathing, to combat the idea that God breathes. Aristotle (On Respiration) had argued that insects do not breathe because when centipedes are cut up the parts stay alive, and flies and bees can swim in liquid for a long time. On the other hand, in his History of Animals he noted that all insects die if covered with oil, a point suggesting that they do breathe. Clement deals with the question by defining terms. Plants are nourished from the density of the air, while hibernating bears are nourished from the exhalation arising from their own bodies. Demons ventilate internally (diapneitai). Fish inhale (empneitai) through the dilation of their gills. Insects circumspire (peripneitai) through pressure of membranes on the waist. Finally, there are creatures that inhale (anapnei) by rhythmic beats corresponding to the counter-dilation (anti-diastole) of the lungs against the chest. A little later, Clement notes that land animals and birds inhale as human beings do, though fish breathe the air infused into the water at the creation. Theophilus too had remarked on this infusion.

Clement dealt with diet from points of view both moral and philosophical. He quoted Paul as saying, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine” (shortened from Romans 14:21), in agreement with the Pythagoreans – for whose opinions he quotes the Stoic Musonius Rufus: “meat, though appropriate for wild animals, darkens the soul.” He adds, however, that he who eats meat sparingly does not sin. In his view the best diet consists of bulbs, olives, herbs, milk, cheese, fruits, and “all kinds of cooked food without sauces.” (The list comes from Plato through Plutarch.) But Clement is willing to include meat, preferably roasted, not boiled. He cites the frugal disciples, who offered the risen Lord “a piece of broiled fish, which he ate before them” (Luke 24:42–43).

In a later work Clement reflects deeper concerns. Christians can abstain from meat on reasonable grounds, not the Pythagorean dream about the transmigration of souls. One might abstain because animal meat has “already been assimilated to the souls of irrational creatures.” In addition, wine and meat harm the mind, as (the Pythagorean) Androcydes said. Similarly one of the late second-century Sayings of Sextus, authoritative for both Clement and Origen, claims that though abstinence is more rational, eating animate beings is really a matter of indifference.

Egyptian priests in their purifications abstain from meat and fish, for “such food makes the flesh flabby.” Elsewhere Clement lists a few fishes “venerated” at various places: one kind at Syene, another at Elephantine, yet another at Oxyrhynchus. This kind of information reflects the interests of the age, not those of Christians generally save for the literary-minded author himself.

He also tells how some Phoenician Syrians “venerate” fishes, while Porphyry mentions Syrians in general, as well as initiates into the mysteries at Eleusis. The Christian apologist Athenagoras says Syrians “venerate” fish because of the mythical Derceto (who had a fish’s tail). “Venerate” again means “not eat.”

Clement identifies the serpent with the devil but usually, after Philo, relates his work to pleasure. He adds that the serpent is now the cause of idol-worship, and acts like barbarians who bind their captives to corpses. The simile comes from the Exhortation of Aristotle, but Clement obviously makes it his own.

Since Clement knew something of zoology he could question animal lore, either tacitly or explicitly. In his Miscellanies he paraphrases much of the letter of “the apostle Clement,” but not the section about the phoenix, a bird he mentions elsewhere only as an Egyptian astrological symbol. Presumably he did not accept the story. When he commented on Barnabas, whom he regarded as an apostle, he relied on Aristotle for questioning the story about the hyena, though without naming either the apostle or the philosopher. He agreed with Barnabas that Moses spoke allegorically but rejected his ideas about what he meant. “I do not agree with this exegesis of what was said symbolically.” Closer to Aristotle than to Barnabas, Clement says the hare really has a bifurcated uterus. And as for the weasel, the Hellenistic Jewish Epistle of Aristeas said that the weasel conceives through the ear and gives birth through the mouth; Plutarch states that “many suppose and say that the weasel conceives through the ear and gives birth through the mouth.” Harnack and others thought Zeno of Verona was expressing a like thought when he said that “Christ enters Mary through the ear.” They did not notice that Zeno was simply giving allegorical exegesis of the angel’s speaking a word to her, just as when he said that the devil crept into Eve through her ear. This was not Barnabas’ notion. The author of the Clementine Recognitions rather sensibly supposed that these unusual habits prove that the Creator specifically chose the usual modes of conception and birth as norms. The Physiologus, as usual, went back to gossip, claiming that the hyena is androgynous, alternating sexes, while the weasel conceives through the mouth and gives birth through the ears. The latter statement simply reverses Aristeas’ notion.

Robert M. Grant. ‘Early Christians and Animals’, Ch. 4, “Alexandrians and the Phisiologus”, 3: Clement, pp. 46.48. Routledge, 1999.

Vizmanos. Las vírgenes cristianas de la iglesia primitiva : estudio histórico-ideológico seguido de una antología de tratados patrísticos sobre la virginidad. 1949.

Las vírgenes cristianas de la iglesia primitiva : estudio histórico-ideológico seguido de una antología de tratados patrísticos sobre la virginidad (1949)

Author: Vizmanos, Francisco de B
Subject: Virginity; Christian literature, Early
Publisher: Madrid : La Editoral Católica
Language: Spanish
Call number: BV4647.C5 V46 1949
Digitizing sponsor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Book contributor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Collection: Princeton; americana

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Porcel. La doctrina monástica de San Gregorio Magno y la “Regula monachorum”. 1950.

La doctrina monástica de San Gregorio Magno y la “Regula monachorum” (1950)

Author: Porcel, Olegario Maria, 1914-
Subject: Gregory I, Pope, ca. 540-604; Benedict, Saint, Abbot of Monte Cassino; Monasticism and religious orders
Publisher: [Madrid] : Instituto “Enrique Florez,” Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, [1950]
Language: Spanish
Call number: BX1076 .P67 1950
Digitizing sponsor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Book contributor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Collection: Princeton; americana

Porcel. La doctrina monástica de San Gregorio Magno y la "Regula monachorum". 1950. by Patrologia Latina, Graeca et Orientalis

Quote. Kato. Jerome’s Understanding of Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. 2013.

Jerome is well known as one of the greatest Church Fathers who studied Hebrew and biblical exegesis under his Jewish teachers in Bethlehem and translated the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text into Latin. This image of Jerome, however, can easily change when we examine the history of research related to him.

Gustave Bardy suggested that while Jerome claimed that his Jewish teachers had taught him their exegesis, he, in fact, had plagiarized it from Greek predecessors such as Origen and Eusebius. Jerome, who mastered Greek while living in Syria and Asia Minor, spent a lot of time reading the works of Origen and Eusebius and translated some of them into Latin. According to Bardy, Jerome learned Jewish interpretations of the Bible from their works but pretended to have learned them from his Jewish teachers in order to boast about his knowledge of Hebrew. Moreover, Pierre Nautin considered Jerome’s linguistic competence in Hebrew to be quite low. According to Nautin, Jerome knew so little Hebrew that he had no choice but to depend on his Greek predecessors. Nautin was generally sceptical about Jerome’s statements. For instance, he concluded that Jerome’s correspondence with Pope Damasus I was a complete fiction created to lend authority to his own remarks. In addition, Nautin believed that the Latin Bible which Jerome claimed to have translated from the original Hebrew text was no more than a second-hand translation from the Hexaplaric (recension of the) LXX.

On the other hand, especially from the viewpoint of the Jewish studies, Jay Braverman and Benjamin Kedar-Kopfstein noted that Jerome was deeply indebted to his Jewish teachers for his exegesis. Further, contrary to Nautin’s view, they estimated Jerome’s competence in Hebrew to be high. Kedar-Kopfstein, for instance, indicated that some interpretations of rabbinic literature and medieval Jewish exegetes were reflected in the passages of the Vulgate, which Jerome seemed to have mistranslated. In other words, it was not Jerome’s low competence in Hebrew but his rather close relationship with Jewish teachers of the time that made passages different in the Vulgate from what they were in the Masoretic text. Furthermore, scholars of Biblical studies, such as Edmund F. Sutcliffe and James Barr, tried to restore the ancient pronunciations of Hebrew words as they were before the Masoretic text by using Jerome’s Latin transliteration. They obviously could not have conducted their research without being convinced of Jerome’s competence in Hebrew.

Following the history of research on Jerome, we are confronted by two questions. First, were all of Jerome’s exegeses plagiarized from his Greek predecessors? Second, what was Jerome’s competence in Hebrew? To answer these questions we first need to consider Jerome’s understanding of Old Testament quotations in the New Testament (hereafter Quot.). When passages of the Old Testament are quoted in the New Testament, the wordings of some differ from those of the LXX which was the Old Testament for Christians in antiquity. Regarding these passages, Jerome claimed that their sources were not the LXX but the original Hebrew text. According to him, whenever the Evangelists and Paul quoted any passages of the Old Testament, they always chose the Hebrew text and translated it into Greek. If this assertion is correct and is based on an accurate knowledge of Hebrew, Jerome’s originality of exegesis and his competence in Hebrew is likely to be confirmed. Accordingly, we will analyse seven texts of Jerome (See section II), especially his Ep. 57, or Liber de optimo genere interpretandi, written c.395. In these texts, Jerome provides examples which indicate that the source of the Quot. was not the LXX but the Hebrew text.

Teppei Kato. ‘Jerome’s Understanding of Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament‘, in Vigiliae Christianae 67, pp. 289-292. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2013.

Cavallera. Saint Athanase (295-373). 1908.

Saint Athanase (295-373) (1908)

Author: Cavallera, Ferdinand, 1875-1954
Subject: Athanasius, Saint, Patriarch of Alexandria, d. 373; Theology, Doctrinal
Publisher: Paris, Bloud
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Language: French
Call number: ALE-1824
Digitizing sponsor: msn
Book contributor: Robarts – University of Toronto
Collection: robarts; toronto

Cavallera. Saint Athanase (295-373). 1908. by Patrologia Latina, Graeca et Orientalis

Grützmacher. Hieronymus : eine biographische Studie zur alten Kirchengeschichte. 1901.

Hieronymus : eine biographische Studie zur alten Kirchengeschichte (August 1901)

Author: Grützmacher, Georg, 1866-
Volumes: 3
Subject: Jerome, Saint, d. 419 or 20; Church history
Publisher: Leipzig : Dieterich
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Language: German
Call number: AEQ-0286
Digitizing sponsor: msn
Book contributor: Robarts – University of Toronto
Collection: robarts; toronto

Grützmacher. Hieronymus : eine biographische Studie zur alten Kirchengeschichte. 1901. Volume 1. by Patrologia Latina, Graeca et Orientalis

Grützmacher. Hieronymus : eine biographische Studie zur alten Kirchengeschichte. 1901. Volume 2. by Patrologia Latina, Graeca et Orientalis

Grützmacher. Hieronymus : eine biographische Studie zur alten Kirchengeschichte. 1901. Volume 3. by Patrologia Latina, Graeca et Orientalis

Heinrich. S. Ignatii patris apostolici quae feruntur Epistolae : una cum ejusdem martyrio. 1849.

S. Ignatii patris apostolici quae feruntur Epistolae : una cum ejusdem martyrio (1849)

Author: Ignatius, Saint, Bishop of Antioch, d. ca. 110; Petermann, Julius Heinrich, 1801-1876
Subject: Ignatius, Saint, Bishop of Antioch, d. ca. 110
Publisher: Lipsiae : Sumptibus F.C.G. Vogelii
Language: Ancient Greek; Latin; Armenian
Call number: AIU-1829
Digitizing sponsor: University of Toronto
Book contributor: PIMS – University of Toronto
Collection: pimslibrary; toronto
Notes: tight binding, narrow margins

Petermann. S. Ignatii patris apostolici quae feruntur Epistolae : una cum ejusdem martyrio. 1849. by Patrologia Latina, Graeca et Orientalis

Montalembert. Les moines d’Occident depuis Saint Benoít jusqu’a Saint Bernard/The monks of the West, from St. Benedict to St. Bernard. 1878/1861.

A member of the French Academy from 9 January, 1851 Montalembert was both an orator and a historian. As early as 1835 he had planned to write a life of St. Bernard. He was led to publish in 1860, under the title “Les Moines d’Occident”, two volumes on the origin of monasticism; then followed three volumes on the monks in England; he died before he reached the period of St. Bernard. But he left among his papers, on the one hand, a manuscript entitled “Influence de l’ordre monastique sur la noblesse féodale et la société laïque jusqu’à la fin du XIe siàcle”, and on the other hand a work on Gregory VII and the conflict of investitures; and these two manuscripts, published in 1877 by his friend Foisset and his son-in-law the Vicomte de Meaux, made up the sixth and seventh volume of the “Moines d’Occident”.

Goyau, G. (1911). Comte de Montalembert. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved June 6, 2014 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10513b.htm


Les moines d’Occident depuis Saint Benoít jusqu’a Saint Bernard (1878)

Author: Montalembert, Charles Forbes, comte de, 1810-1870; Courson, Aurélien, comte de, 1811-1889
Volumes: 7
Subject: Monasticism and religious orders
Publisher: Paris : Lecoffre
Year: 1878
Language: French
Call number: AAM6654
Digitizing sponsor: Brigham Young University
Book contributor: Harold B. Lee Library
Collection: americana


The monks of the West, from St. Benedict to St. Bernard (1861)

Author: Montalembert, Charles Forbes, comte de, 1810-1870; Courson, Aurélien, comte de, 1811-1889, ed
Volumes: 7
Subject: Monasticism and religious orders
Publisher: Edinburgh and London, W. Blackwood and sons
Language: English
Call number: BX2461 .M76
Digitizing sponsor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Book contributor: Princeton Theological Seminary Library
Collection: Princeton; americana

Original French edition published Paris, 1860-77, v. 6-7 being edited by Aurelien de Courson
–v. 1. Dedication. Introduction. book I. The Roman empire after the peace of the church. book II. Monastic precursors in the East. book III. Monastic precursors in the West. 1861.
–v. 2. book iv. St. Benedict. book v. St. Gregory the Great. Monastic Italy and Spain in the sixth and seventh centuries. book VI. The monks under the first Merovingians. book VII. St. Columbanus. The Irish in Gaul and the colonies of Luxeuil. 1861.
–v. 3. book VIII. Christian origin of the British Isles. book IX. St. Columba, the apostle of Caledonia, 521-597. book X. St. Augustin of Canterbury and the Roman missionaries in England, 597-633. Appendix: Iona. Conclusions of the two papers of M. Varin. 1867.
–v. 4. book XI. The Celtic monks and the Anglo-Saxons. book XII. St. Wilfrid establishes Roman unity and the Benedictine order, 634-709. book XIII. Contemporaries and successors of St. Wilfrid, 650-735. Appendix: Lindisfarne. Peterborough. Hexham. 1867.
–v. 5. Conclusion of book XIII. book XIV. Social and political influence of the monks among the Anglo-Saxons. book XV. the Anglo-Saxon nuns. 1867.
–v.6. book XVIII. The church and the feudal system. The monastic orders and society. book XIX St. Gregory, monk and pope, Appendix. 1879.
–v.7. book XIX continued. book XX. The predecessors of Calixtus II. 1879


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PLGO’ Scribd Account.

Quote. Alan Thacker. Bede and the Ordering of Understanding. 2006.

From the Scriptures, Bede moves on to hagiography, history and martyrology, hymns and epigrams, and natural science and computus, concluding with orthography, meter and grammar. Now there is nothing random or accidental in all this. For Bede, knowledge was highly interconnected. Its primary focus was the Christian Scriptures and the body of authoritative learned commentary on those Scriptures. It was natural therefore to begin with biblical exegesis, Hagiography and history follow since they demonstrated the teaching elucidated in abstract terms in the commentaries in action, in the theater or human affairs. The close connections in Bede’s mind between exegesis and history are particularly evident in the links between the late commentaries, such as De tabernaculo, De templo, and In Ezram et Neemiam, and the Historia ecclesiastica.
After history and historiography, the next significant section in Bede’s list of his writings focuses on his scientific treatises on chronology and the natural world. Computistical calculation of course had considerable practical implications for monks and liturgists, and Bede was, as we all know, an outstanding computist. At a deeper level, however, he was interested in chronology as revealing the structure of time, that structure which, as Faith Wallis has recently pointed out, represented the “continuity and patters” of divine providence. Both his chronological treatises therefore culminate in discussion of the ages of the world, of the progress of time from creation to the sixth and present age, the last of historical time that will usher in “the eternal stability and stable eternity” of the seventh and final age. That doctrine of the seven ages of the world, predicated on the seven days of creation, brings us of course back full circle to the creation myth of Genesis and biblical exegesis.
Such concerns are intimately connected with Bede’s analysis of the natural world. That world could only be understood through the lens of Genesis, and De natura rerum begins with a discussion derived from Augustine of the biblical creation story. What follows (in which the principal sources -Augustine, Pliny and Isidore- are carefully indicated) is designed to bring the ancients’ understanding of the world into a scriptural perspective.
Computus also naturally intersected with history. Both Bede’s treatises on time ended in world chronicles, dating events by annus mundi, the age of the world. In them, as Faith Wallis has pointed out, Bede was writing universal history with a universal dating system. In the Historia ecclesiastica, he is specific, focused upon the salvation history of a single nation -and here, in work solely devoted to the last age, he uses a different dating system, centered on the incarnation, thereby Cristianizing the structure of time.

Alan Thacker, “Bede and the Ordering of Understanding”, in ‘Innovation and Tradition in the Writings of The Venerable Bede’, ed. by Scott DeGregorio, pp. 47-49. West Virginia University Press, 2006.

Quote. Robert M. Grant. Early Christians and Animals. 1999.

Isidore died before finishing his Etymologies, divided into twenty books by his friend Braulio, bishop of Saragossa. The title reflects his basic literary interests, and his method often leads him into fanciful word-derivations which he considers scientific. He discusses animals at the end of Book XI and in the whole of Book XII, and is less credulous than the author of the Physiologus. He has avoided many legendary anecdotes because he has analyzed narratives in the manner of Greek rhetoric, dividing them into three classes defined as historical fact, fiction, and myth.
For Isidore historical “facts” really took place, and even if “argumenta” (fictitious accounts) did not occur they could have occurred. Fables (myths) did not occur and cannot occur, however, because they are contrary to nature. The Physiologus, of course, had paid no attention to such distinctions, but Isidore was better trained in rhetorical analysis and more concerned with it. Though he discussed many of the fabled creatures found in the Physiologus, he did not often classify them as “animals.” Relying on Varro (through Augustine), he placed “monsters” and “fabulous portents” at the end of the eleventh book (or did his editor Braulio do this?), accepting the first group of portents as trustworthy (11.3.1–27), and even (like Pliny) citing Aristotle as an authority. These stories are placed under the heading “portents” and are different from the materials “on animals,” but they are also different from a few fabulous and fictitious accounts which can be explained away (11.3.28–39). Isidore definitely believes that transformations of men into beasts, or vice versa, are possible, and it seems surprising that he accepts the existence of vampires (11.4).
Henkel notes Isidore’s criticism, possibly after Augustine, of the tales about the weasel and the pelican and his references to the existence of hearsay. Isidore’s work is somewhat more “scientific” than the Physiologus, and Henkel rightly insists that medieval people did not regard the latter as a textbook of zoology. It is not what we should call scientific, however, for it is based on neither observation nor analysis but simply on rhetorical tradition.

Robert M. Grant. ‘Early Christians and Animals’, pp. 113-114. Routledge, 1999.