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Writing in Old English - Book Report/Review Example

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To the average student f Anglo-Saxon England the Virgin Mary is a retiring figure, hardly noticed alongside her vaunting and muscular Son and his heroically steadfast followers. In her important The Cult f the Virgin Mary in Anglo-Saxon England (1990), however, Professor Clayton used artistic and literary evidence to affirm Mary's key place in Anglo-Saxon spirituality…
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Writing in Old English
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"Writing in Old English"

Download file to see previous pages The Marian apocrypha fall into two groups, those concerned with the birth and infancy f Mary and those describing her death and assumption. Their shared aim is to affirm the perfect purity f Mary: she is conceived, like Christ, in her father's absence, is brought up in the temple, and eventually dies to the accompaniment f divine portents before being resurrected and assumed. The chief vehicle for the birth and infancy legends is the 'Gospel f Pseudo-Matthew', a reworking f a Latin version f the second-century Greek Proteuangelium. The history f the death and assumption texts is far more complex. Even the significance f the terminology involved (dormitio, transitus, assumptio) defies easy interpretation, and there is much variation in the detail f events, especially where the fate f Mary's body is concerned: did it go straight to heaven or to paradise There are more than sixty different apocrypha in nine languages. Clayton concentrates on the Syriac, Greek, Coptic, and Latin and, in two long chapters, does an impressive job f clarifying the main lines f transmission and assessing past scholarship.
There are three major Old English texts: a version f much f the Gosp...
Each f the texts has been edited before, but in two cases long ago and inadequately, and here they are brought together for the first time. A good modern English translation is provided in parallel. Clayton does not print a further part f Pseudo-Matthew which appears in Vercelli homily VI, which is perhaps a pity, for it is very short through the loss f a leaf; this indeed is one reason why it is not given, along with the fact that it is readily available in Scragg's recent edition. Clayton's editorial method is essentially pragmatic and she does not shy away from emendation if she feels she can justify it (which she does at great length in the commentaries). For the assumption homily in CCC 41, things are relatively easy because this is the only copy; here Clayton has identified the Latin source and uses it to make corrections and fill lacunae in the Old English text. For the second homily, CCC 198 provides the base text, though it may be younger than the less complete Blickling version. In the case f the Gospel f Pseudo-Matthew, Clayton herself calls her text 'hybrid'. Having chosen one f the three witnesses (each f which is at some distance from the original translation), she nevertheless emends its readings when she deems the other witnesses to be nearer to the Latin, thus assuming transmission error in the base manuscript. In some cases, f course, she may be correcting the original translator, or even the Latin exemplar; but the method is sound, even if one might quibble in specific cases.
The book is well produced, with the low error rate expected from this series. I would have liked, however, a separate index f manuscripts (for it ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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