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Little is known of Ailerán, except that he was lector of Clonard, Co. Meath, and that he died in the great plague of 665. He is also credited with the authorship of this text, which is one of the only surviving works of early Irish biblical exegesis. The text may have been written as early as 660, but its purpose remains unclear: it may have been intended as a learned theological treatise on the genealogy of Christ, but others argue that it is a devotional exposition, meant for a liturgical or quasi-liturgical purpose.
Whatever its origins, it was written for a monastic audience. The work displays a pronounced monastic bias, and the author presupposes a standard of moral and doctrinal learning of his readers which is far beyond what we may presume to have been within the range of the seventh century lay person. The author tacitly urges his it presents audience towards what he sees as the highest standard of spiritual perfection.