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The Ever-New Tongue: The Text in the Book of Lismore

28 Jun 2018

A paperback version of Professor John Carey's edition of the Old Irish cosmological text In Tenga Bithnúa ("The Ever-New Tongue"), which appeared as part of the Corpus Christianorum Series Apocryphorum in 2009, has just been published by Brepols; this book will be formally launched at the Irish Conference of Medievalists in June. The new publication provides a translation of the first recension of the text, introduced by a detailed discussion of its content and background, and followed by an appendix setting forth the evidence for dating.


The Ever-New Tongue (In Tenga Bithnúa) is a medieval Irish account of the mysteries of the universe, remarkable for its exotic background and for the fiery exuberance of its style. This translation, based on the definitive edition of the text, renders this extraordinary work available to a wider readership.

Composed in Ireland in the ninth or tenth century, The Ever-New Tongue purports to reveal the mysteries of the creation, of the cosmos, and of the end of the world, as related by the soul of the apostle Philip speaking in the language of the angels. Drawing on a multitude of sources, both mainstream and heterodox, it reflects the richness of early Irish learning as well as the vitality of its author’s imagination. Two apocryphal texts appear to have inspired its original composition: a lost Egyptian apocalyptic discourse, and one of the segments of the Acts of Philip (a work otherwise unknown in Latin Christendom).

Based on the critical edition of The Ever-New Tongue in the Corpus Christianorum, Series Apocryphorum, this book presents an English translation of the oldest (and most conservative) version of the text, preserved in the Book of Lismore, together with a fully updated introduction.



Roinn na Sean- agus na Meán-Ghaeilge

Department of Early and Medieval Irish

Bloc A, Urlár na Talún, Áras Uí Rathaille / Block A, Ground Floor, O'Rahilly Building, UCC, Cork