Michael Lapidge has identified the author of the Alea Evangelii text and diagram with “Israel the Grammarian”. Only a few fragments are known about the figure of Israel. From them, Lapidge has assembled this tentative biography in his 1992 paper Israel the Grammarian in Anglo-Saxon England.
Lapidge's presentation of the initial lines of MS 122:Israel was born in Britanny, perhaps ca. 900. Where he received his earliest training is unknown; at some point he studied in Rome, perhaps with an Italian scholar named Ambrose. During the course of his studies he acquired an impressive knowledge of Greek. During the reign of King Athelstan, when because of political turmoil in their homeland many Bretons were welcomed to the English royal household, Israel too came to England under Athelstan's patronage. With him he brought copies of the “Rubisca” and the “Saint-Omer Hymn”, both perhaps composed by him and provided by him with glosses in Breton. While a member of Athelstan's household, Israel and a Frankish colleague devised the Alea Evangelii or “Gospel Dice”, a copy of which was subsequently taken back to Bangor by an Irish visitor at Athelstan's court, Dub Innse. At that time, too, Israel began collecting a dossier of Greek materials, including the Greek litany and “Sanctus” found in Athelstan's Psalter. With Athelstan's death in 939, Israel was forced to seek a new patron. He composed his poem “De arte metrica” while still in England (this would account for its preservation in English manuscripts, a fact otherwise difficult to explain) and dedicated it to Rotbert, archbishop of Trier, intending it as a plea for patronage. His plea was successful; Israel left England for Trier, but not without leaving behind him copies of his poetry and his dossier of Greek materials. Through his contact with Rotbert, Israel became tutor to Bruno, later archbishop of Cologne, and he was present with Rotbert at the synod of Verdun in 947. During this period his expertise in Greek attracted him to the writings of John Scottus Eriugena, and he began assembling another dossier of scholarly materials, including some items from the earlier, English dossier but reflecting more his growing interest in Greek philosophical and theological terminology; it is this dossier which is preserved in the Leningrad manuscript and which Edouard Jeauneau has analysed so comprehensively. Toward the end of his life Israel withdrew from the world and became a monk at Saint-Maximin in Trier, perhaps in order to devote himself to study. It was there that he died, perhaps ca. 970, secure in his reputation as one of the most learned scholars in Europe.
… Israel was described by Dub Innse as a “Roman scholar” (Romanus sapiens). This observation squares with what we know of Israel from other sources. In one of his brief tractates on the soul (preserved in the Leningrad manuscript and edited by Jeauneau), Israel refers to his recollections of “the sojourn which he spent at Rome in a bygone year” (conuersationis meae quam transacto anno habui Romae nunc reminiscor). Israel had apparently spent some time at Rome, therefore, and it may have been during this Roman sojourn that his tutelage at the hands of Ambrose took place, for such evidence as we have suggests that Ambrose was Italian. In any event, if Israel had spent time studying at Rome (whether with Ambrose or not) before he arrived at Athelstan's court, he may well have seemed to his colleagues there as much “Romanus” as “Britto”.Incipt alea euangelii quam Dubinsi episcopus Bennchorensis detulit a rege Anglorum id est a domu Adalstani regis Anglorum depicta a quodam Francone et a Romano sapiente id est Israel.
Here begins the Gospel Dice which Dub Innse, bishop of Bangor, brought from the English king, that is from the household of Athelstan, king of England, drawn by a certain Franco (or: by a certain Frank) and by a Roman scholar, that is Israel.
In The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England Lepidge gives this shorter biography:
NB: I am indebted to Michael J. Hurst (a researcher in ancient art and allegorical games) for bringing to my attention Israel the Grammarian through a quote from “AEthelstan: The First King of England” (2011), by Sarah Foot, pp. 104-5.Israel the Grammarian, a scholar of Breton origin who spent some time at the court of King Æthelstan (924–39), probably as a refugee from political turmoil in Brittany; he subsequently returned to the Continent where he served (from c .940 onwards) as tutor to Bruno, later archbishop of Cologne (953–65), and ended his life as a monk in the monastery of St Maximin in Trier. Israel was an accomplished grammarian and poet, and one of the few scholars of this time to have first-hand knowledge of Greek. His presence in England is recorded in a brief text known as the Alea euangelii (‘Gospel Dice’), and is reflected in various texts which passed through his hands (such as the Greek prayers copied in the last folios of the Æthelstan Psalter) or which were composed by him (such as, probably, the immensely difficult poems Rubisca and Adelphus adelphe ) and transmitted in English manuscripts (such as the poem De arte metrica , which was dedicated to Archbishop Robert of Trier).