Books

Jonas of Bobbio and the Legacy of Columbanus: Sanctity and Community in the Seventh Century (Oxford University Press, 2018)

"Without spending a single apologetic word on the debate of the end of Late Antiquity, O'Hara has clearly shown that the seventh century is both interesting and relevant for anyone who wants to understand the late antique world." -- Erik Hermans, Journal of Late Antiquity


"There is a great deal that is valuable in O'Hara's book. It portrays the continuity of a type of monasticism and set of beliefs that reflects those of the earliest phase of Irish Christianity. These include the preference for an effort-based spirituality as opposed to the reliance on grace advocated by Augustine; a limited acceptance of miracles and relics; and an historically-based biblical exegesis. But most importantly, it portrays the strategies of a highly intelligent and resourceful hagiographer, who skillfully manages to preserve the legacy of a great spiritual figure despite attempts from within and without to destroy it." -- Michael Herren, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Rich with examples and insights, the book is scholarship of the highest order by an author in complete command of his subject ... The book will be valuable for those specializing in church history and medieval thought ... Highly recommended." --CHOICE

"An engaging study of a little-known figure, shedding new light on monasteries associated with Columbanus. In O'Hara's hands, Jonas of Bobbio emerges as a perceptive commentator on religion, politics, and culture in seventh-century Frankia, with particular interests in royal patronage and in the qualities necessary for effective monastic leadership." --Sarah Foot, University of Oxford

“This offers a meticulous, detailed presentation of a major early medieval saint and his hagiographer which will be of immense value to students of the seventh century.” — The English Historical Review

“Alexander O’Hara’s study of Jonas of Bobbio has a number of challenges for the average reader who is well versed in the hagiography of the Merovingian period. With this publication, however, the author proves to be a well-founded expert for an author who has so far been little used in research. … The results are illustrated using tables and graphics. Particularly noteworthy is that O’Hara also includes the transmission and reception of Jonas’ work in his study. In the appendix there is also an overview of the manuscripts of the Vita Columbani, including some that were unknown to the editor Krusch. The book is written throughout in a reader-friendly register.” — Historische Zeitschrift

“Without spending a single apologetic word on the debate of the end of Late Antiquity, O’Hara has clearly shown that the seventh century is both interesting and relevant for anyone who wants to understand the late antique world.” — Erik Hermans, Journal of Late Antiquity

“There is a great deal that is valuable in O’Hara’s book. It portrays the continuity of a type of monasticism and set of beliefs that reflects those of the earliest phase of Irish Christianity. These include the preference for an effort-based spirituality as opposed to the reliance on grace advocated by Augustine; a limited acceptance of miracles and relics; and an historically-based biblical exegesis. But most importantly, it portrays the strategies of a highly intelligent and resourceful hagiographer, who skillfully manages to preserve the legacy of a great spiritual figure despite attempts from within and without to destroy it.” — Michael Herren, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“The bulk of the book is a detailed and brilliant philological examination of Jonas’s Life of Columbanus and Jonas’s purposes, sources, and methods. Rich with examples and insights, the book is scholarship of the highest order by an author in complete command of his subject. O’Hara includes a list of all extant manuscripts of Jonas’s Life of Columbanus and an extensive bibliography. The book will be valuable for those specializing in church history and medieval thought … Highly recommended.” — CHOICE

“An engaging study of a little-known figure, shedding new light on monasteries associated with Columbanus. In O’Hara’s hands, Jonas of Bobbio emerges as a perceptive commentator on religion, politics, and culture in seventh-century Frankia, with particular interests in royal patronage and in the qualities necessary for effective monastic leadership.” — Sarah Foot, University of Oxford

“Over the past twenty-five years a number of efforts have been made to interpret Jonas and explain the development of Columbanian monasticism. O’Hara’s thesis is a valuable contribution … The main argument that Jonas intended the Life to critique the direction of the Columbanian movement in the Frankish kingdom is a plausible one.” — Early Medieval Europe

Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe (Oxford University Press, 2018) 

“Each contribution is insightful and many offer valuable reassessments of the sources for Columbanus and his legacy in Western Europe; the volume as a whole is tightly edited and remarkably cohesive.” — Patrick Gleeson, The Society for Medieval Archaeology

“From a scholarly perspective, there is much here of great value to the study of this Irish and European saint’s background, career and legacy, for which the editor and contributors should be congratulated. But the book also has a broader, contemporary message.” —  The English Historical Review

“Published with elegance and editorial accuracy … it represents an improvement not only for knowledge of the historical Columbanus and early medieval Irish history, but also for knowledge of those populations of post-Roman Europe that constitute, as the title announces, the non-negligible social, religious, and cultural background of monasticism in the tradition of Columbanus.” — Giovanni Alberto Cecconi, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“The authors have carefully and creatively teased out the well-known documents to deepen our understanding of this period. Many of the essays also reinforce and nuance ideas across multiple chapters […] Each essay also includes an up-to-date bibliography that will be invaluable to scholars wanting to explore these topics. This is an important volume of well-written essays that contribute much to the field and is highly recommended” — The Medieval Review

“In this wonderful collection of essays the reader travels with Columbanus through the Christian West, from Ireland to Brittany, from Northern Gaul to the Rhine, Bavaria, Alamannia, and Italy. Through the great Irishman’s encounters with secular and ecclesiastical elites, with various religious cultures, Roman traditions, post-Roman states and peoples, this volume illuminates the profound changes that characterize the transition from the ancient to the medieval world.” — Helmut Reimitz, Princeton University

“The book is rich in content, and innovative and comprehensive in its approach. Each contribution is accompanied by an up-to-date bibliography and manages to apply new conceptual tools to older problems of Columbanian scholarship. The reader will find much that is of general interest for the study of the period and will gain considerable insight into the dynamics of inter-group relationships during an important phase of European history.” — Carlo Cedro, History Ireland

Jonas of Bobbio: Life of Columbanus, Life of John of Réomé, and Life of Vedast (Liverpool University Press, 2017)

‘There is a richness to the material which O’Hara and Wood have done us a great service in making more accessible.’
Jamie Kreiner, The Medieval Review

‘This book is a timely and meaningful contribution to the scholarship on Merovingian Gaul. It is important not only for its accessible translation of a large and difficult corpus of works set against a complicated historical and textual background, but also for its clear synthesis of current scholarship. Finally, it elegantly succeeds in navigating the “Irish” vs. “Frankish” controversy, which seems to have reawakened of late.’
— Yaniv Fox, Speculum

‘This very welcome new translation is also a highly sophisticated scholarly edition. It is particularly rich in bibliography, with an extensive listing of virtually all the secondary literature on Columban and his times.’
— Terrence Kardong, American Benedictine Review

‘This very welcome addition to Liverpool University Press’s Translated Texts for Historians more than lives up to expectations for this esteemed book series […] Alexander O’Hara and Ian Wood’s volume will be an essential companion for its valuable introduction, detailed footnotes, half-dozen appendices, up-to-date bibliography, and, not least of all, high-quality translation of Jonas’s often challenging Latin. […] In sum, this is an important book, not only for the early medieval texts it makes available to a much wider potential readership but also for the exceptional scholarship that went into the presentation and translation of those texts.’
— Westley Follett, Eolas: The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies

‘Whatever the final outcome of contemporary debates about Columbanus, ‘Columbanian Monasticism’, and the influence of the Irish in continental Europe in the early Middle Ages, this volume will provide invaluable evidence (for both sides!) for many years to come.’

— Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Early Medieval Europe

‘The publication of an erudite, readable, and heavily annotated translation of Jonas of Bobbio’s hagiographical corpus is a cause for celebration. Although one of the recognized classics of seventh-century hagiography, Jonas’s Vita Columbani until now has not been available in an unabridged English translation, while the comparatively brief lives of John of Réomé and Vedast appear for the very first time in English. […] O’Hara and Wood thus have produced not only an invaluable teaching resource, but a significant contribution to the new wave of Columbanian studies.’
— Gregory I. Halfond, The Mediæval Journal

“The translation [of the poem Hibernia insula] is very, very good because the remoteness of the idiom and the elsewhereness of the island come through – without any sense of archaizing. The poem is an addition, a good re-membering of the insula and all those peregrini.”

— Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature (1995)

Saint Columbanus: Selected Writings (Veritas, Dublin, 2015) with a foreword by Mary McAleese and Sean McDonagh

“[Columbanus’s] love and humility shine through. . . A helpful introduction for all who wish to learn about this pioneering Irish saint.” — Catholic Library World

“In this little book [O’Hara] aims to present the pith of the saint’s writings in a form which will be readable by the ordinary readers …. Much of what Columbanus wrote was intended for his own monks, but his expression is often so succinct and to the point that it carries a strong message for today. This is not an outdated voice, but in reality one for our times; altogether an excellent introduction to the thought of a great European saint.” — Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

My published journal articles and reviews can be accessed here: https://dahphd.academia.edu/AlexanderOHara

Bibliography

2020

Saint Sunniva: The Irish Patron Saint of Western Norway, 1170-2020, Åslaug Ommundsen, Alf Tore Hommedal, and Alexander O’Hara (eds.) (Bergen: Alvheim & Eide Akademisk Forlag, forthcoming 2020).

“The Cistercian Authorship of the Earliest Norwegian Hagiography,” in Åslaug Ommundsen, Alf Tore Hommedal, and Alexander O’Hara (eds.) (Bergen: Alvheim & Eide Akademisk Forlag, forthcoming 2020).

“The Deeds of the Saints on Selja: A Translation,” in Åslaug Ommundsen, Alf Tore Hommedal, and Alexander O’Hara (eds.) (Bergen: Alvheim & Eide Akademisk Forlag, forthcoming 2020).

“The Politics of Piety: Ritual Communities and Social Cohesion in Merovingian Gaul,” in Walter Pohl and Andreas Fischer (eds.), Social Cohesion and its Limits (Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, forthcoming 2020).

2018

Jonas of Bobbio and the Legacy of Columbanus: Sanctity and Community in the Seventh Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018).

Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe, ed. Alexander O’Hara (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018).  

“Jonas de Bobbio et l’héritage contesté de Colomban,” in Gérard Moyse (ed.), Le monachisme luxovien à l’époque de Saint Eustaise successeur de saint Colomban, Les Cahiers Colombaniens 2016 (Luxeuil-les-Bains, 2018), 16-26.

“Jonas of Bobbio, Marchiennes-Hamage, and the Regula cuiusdam ad virgines,” in Aurélia Bully, Alain Dubreucq, and Sébastien Bully (eds.), Colomban et son influence: moines et monastères du haut Moyen Âge en Europe (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018), 287-93.

“Introduction: Columbanus and Europe,” in Alexander O’Hara (ed.), Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 3-17.

2017

Jonas of Bobbio: Life of Columbanus and His Disciples, Life of John, Life of Vedast, ed. & trans. Alexander O’Hara and Ian Wood (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2017).

Review of Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder (eds.), The Irish in Early Medieval Europe: Identity, Culture, and Religion (London, 2016), Published online in The Medieval Review 08.03.2017: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/23484

Response to Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder on their Reply to Review of The Irish in Early Medieval Europe: Identity, Culture, and Religion (London, 2016), Published online in The Medieval Review 21.06.2017: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/23763

2016

“Death in the North: Norway’s Irish Saint,” in Salvador Ryan (ed.), Death and the Irish: A Miscellany (Dublin: Wordwell 2016), 26-28.

2015

Saint Columbanus: Selected Writings, ed. Alexander O’Hara (Dublin: Veritas 2015).

Carmen de Hibernia insula: The Earliest Poem about Ireland,” in Salvador Ryan (ed.), Treasures of Irish Christianity Volume III: To the Ends of the Earth (Dublin: Veritas 2015), 20-24.

“The Babenbergs and the Cult of St. Coloman: Saint Formation and Political Cohesion in Eleventh-Century Austria,” The Journal of Medieval Latin 25 (2015), 131-172 (with an edition and translation of the Passio et Miracula S. Cholomanni).

“Columbanus ad locum: The Establishment of the Monastic Foundations,” Peritia 26 (2015), 143-70.

2013

Patria, peregrinatio, and paenitentia: Identities of Alienation in the Seventh Century,” in Walter Pohl and Gerda Heydemann (eds.), Post-Roman Transitions: Christian and Barbarian Identities in the Early Medieval West (Turnhout, Brepols, 2013), 89-124.

“Aristocratic and Monastic Conflict in Tenth-Century Italy: the Case of Bobbio and the Miracula Sancti Columbani” (with Faye Taylor), Viator 44 (2013) 43-62.

Review of Hendrik Dey and Elizabeth Fentress (eds.), Western Monasticism Ante Litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout, Brepols, 2011), Early Medieval Europe 21 (2013), 343-45.

Review of James T. Palmer, Anglo-Saxons in a Frankish World, 690-900 (Turnhout, Brepols, 2009), Peritia 22-23 (2013), 384-87.

The Hildemar Project (contributor)

http://www.hildemar.org/

2012

“Columbanus and Jonas: New Textual Witnesses,” Peritia 22-23 (2012), 188-90.

2010

Review of Marios Costambeys, Power and Patronage in Early Medieval Italy: Local Society, Italian Politics and the Abbey of Farfa, c. 700–900 (Cambridge, 2007), Journal of Ecclesiastical History 61 (2010) 595-96.

2009

“Death and the Afterlife in Jonas of Bobbio’s Vita Columbani,” in Peter Clarke and Tony Claydon (eds.), The Church, the Afterlife and the Fate of the Soul, Studies in Church History 45 (Woodbridge, 2009), 64-73.

“Constructing a Saint: The Legend of St Sunniva in Twelfth-Century Norway,” Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 5 (2009), 105-21.

“The Audience of the Vita Columbani in Merovingian Gaul,” Early Medieval Europe 17 (2009), 126- 53.

Review of Michael Richter, Bobbio in the Early Middle Ages: The Abiding Legacy of Columbanus (Dublin, 2008), Early Medieval Europe 17 (2009), 467-8.