Lives Journal 14

Jaka Jarc




About the Tenth Century Anglo-Saxon Manuscript known as

MS Bodleian Junius XI

And the Context of its Unique Poetic Takes on Biblical Stories, part I




Whenever I am tasked with producing a short and accessible text about Anglo-Saxon literary history, I often find myself surprisingly stumped. I dive, head first, into some interesting literary evidence illuminating an obscure part of the Anglo-Saxon socio-cultural mind-set. I get carried away, typing passionately, but sooner or later the memory of my inner audience comes crashing down. You see I am a firm believer in the significance of context. These days context is out of fashion, face value is all the rage, and even here data is carefully omitted to allow the reign of ignorance to wax. But I believe context is due a comeback, and accordingly I think my audience, whoever he or she may be, need to be told more about the background of my chosen issue. My inner audience cannot be assumed to possess previous knowledge of Old English literature, the strange extinct language eternalizing it, the poetic form conserving it to remain fresh for consumption, manuscript, or the scribal culture of the 10th century. They must be presumed ignorant of the Old English literary revival of the 10th century, the Benedictine reform, and the strangely capable minds of bishops Aelfric and Wulfstan. And that’s not even scratching the surface of the strange and foreign world that is Anglo-Saxon England.

This is not intended to be elitist, I decided my audience will be curious and thirsty for knowledge, merely abandoned on the shores of ignorance by the fast pace and pragmatic quick fixes of our times and the rampant misinformation abounding in the negligent superficial edited content that is the Internet, mishapen and presented to the unwary public at large. I would like to spend a part of my life informing these curious about the wonders of our great forefathers and mothers. But, the written word is a one-sided and two-dimensional medium, which often lacks feedback. This makes it harder to identify the vantage point for such a vast discussion. In my mind contextual knowledge is like a sea. Whereas information presented without context is more akin to a stream or river with perceivably clear itinerary. At sea, we choose our own path, but if we choose poorly, we may never get anywhere.

So here I am, trying to explain how Old English literature reflects its authors’ and perhaps its late Anglo-Saxon audience’s value system and socio-cultural basis of their interaction. For this to be accessible to my as yet uninformed audience, I need to start by explaining, that the Anglo-Saxons were Germanic settlers of the British Isles coming in after the collapse of the Roman province of Britannia to assist the strange melange of peoples we now call the Romano-British, most probably against the (less Romano-) Celtic peoples. I need to quickly pass by the issue of what is Germanic, but stress that scholars prior to the second half of the 20th century worked hard to parse medieval Germanic literary texts for the unsaid in search of the heroic and pagan, but then, after Hitler was defeated, through hard work and cruel discipline largely abandoned these romantic notions, turning in stead to what the texts are actually saying, though t be Christian. And here we stand, scholars having safely observed texts from a plethora of angles – as manuscripts, as poetry, as linguistic treasures, as works of art, even as archaeological evidence. Now I parse the texts for context, juxtapose it with other texts, again slightly abandoning the positivist harbour of face value, but attempt to fit myself with the knowledge of previous erroneous wanderings, the new understanding of the complex scholarly parallels in the fields of theology, literary criticism etc., and do my best to advance our understanding of how works of art such as literature can be informative of the roots of our civilisation today as well as a pleasure to read. But, if I achieve nothing else, I will consider it a success, if I manage to impart in some small way the significance of looking at context and doing so with precision and critically.

Alas, the task is hard, and the yarn of historic narrative has no end. So this time I am simply putting a part of the introduction to my doctoral thesis into the world to serve as a spring board and primal fount for my further accessible texts about the poetic history of the Anglo-Saxons. I hope it will be a beginning of a larger body of work, accessible to anyone who is curious. So I begin in the middle yet again, inviting you to get acquainted with a tenth century poetic manuscript, so beautifully dubbed MS Bodleian Junius XI, after the Bodleian library which takes care of it and its 17th century’s own first editor, Anglo-Dutch scholar Franciscus Junius.

I advise the reader to borrow, or simply search the Internet for the English translations of the Junius XI poems, because I will not reiterate them entirely, but rather use this text as a chance to demonstrate precise and painstaking work that a scholar ought to perform before reaching conclusions. I am aware that we all like to find causal links based on scarcity of information; in fact any medieval scholar ends up guilty of the same because there is no way for us to know, what sources or in deed how many have been lost to us. However, though we may take into account physical and mortal limitations, we must not submit to laziness, and simply find two pieces of fact sufficient to form a conclusion. This leads to narrow mindedness, and in a democratic world, narrow mindedness of the general public is extremely detrimental to our civilised and constructive way of life.



Determining the Context of Biblical Poetry


The excerpt before you is the introductory part of my doctoral dissertation examining how social interactions are conceptualised in the Old English vernacular biblical paraphrases contained in the late tenth- or early eleventh-century illustrated manuscript, MS Bodleian Junius XI: Genesis A, Genesis B, Exodus, Daniel, and Christ and Satan. I focus on those segments of the Junius XI poems, where scriptural depiction of social interactions and treatment of possessions departed from biblical accounts, altered by the Old English poets either through addition, omission, or change in emphasis. The poetic treatment of scriptural narrative in Junius XI presents an original blend of scriptural content and original Old English poetic form, style, and formulas. This blend promises to lend a unique perspective on social conceptions: social cultural identity, the notion of right to a homeland, rights and obligations regulating hierarchical relations, and the nature of authority.

To give you the necessary context, allow me to quickly reiterate my thesis. It began by examining how the poems frame social conceptions through their treatment of possessions, which feature heavily in social interactions and exchanges within Old English narrative. I frame my discussion of social exchanges and allegorical symbolism by examining instances of material possessions in the text. This is because material possessions are the common denominator of both. First, I focus on what I define as ‘moveable possessions’, namely items that can be uprooted and moved. Next I discuss in what way the capacity of the possessions to be moved is significant for the Israelites’ cultural identity and to the rights and obligations of its elites. This line of examination proves especially fruitful in Genesis A and Exodus, where the Israelite people are predominately depicted in migration. My third chapter discusses the right to possess land and the idea of homeland. The discussion moves away from the Israelite people in migration to the idea of the Israelite people in settlement shifting the focus to landed possessions. Chapter four examines hierarchical relations, its focus is on similarities and differences between the master-slave relationship and the lord-retainer relationship in different Junius XI treatments of scriptural narratives. Chapter five discusses the workings of authority, as imagined by the Old English poets of Junius XI and added to their scriptural sources. In this chapter possessions frame social interactions but are themselves no longer the focus of examination. This final chapter rounds up the discussion by shifting the focus of discussion from possessions as the means of social interactions to authority as an abstract notion, which simultaneously frames social interactions and governs the treatment of possessions themselves within these very interactions.

The thesis presents Old English social conceptions as literary ideals which are tied to Christian moral imperatives, though these have been transformed in their literary treatment; they were adapted at least to the stylistic and traditional traits inherent in Old English poetry if not to preconceptions and expectations of Anglo-Saxon society of the time. My intent was to assemble a collection of insights rather than to reach a single sweeping conclusion. Therefore my interpretation had to take into account the implications of form and symbolism of Old English poetry, our painstakingly gained appreciation of the depths of Christian knowledge among Old English poets, and the greatly evolved general historical understanding of individual types of possessions.



MS Bodleian Junius XI


The following discussion is focused on narratives contained within a single manuscript. I will here provide general information about the manuscript: its editions, the editions of poems, the issue pertaining to the dating of the manuscript then individual poems, the question of manuscript unity, and finally the scholarship on the poems that relates to my research question.

In 1655, the Dutch scholar Franciscus Junius first published the Junius Manuscript under the title ‘Cædmon’s Paraphrase.’ He viewed it as a single long poem. Based on language and style currently the general consensus is that the collection consists of at least five separate poems: Genesis A, Genesis B, Exodus, Daniel, and Christ and Satan. The latter poem is the only one to derive its contents from outside the Old Testament, though it is in fact dipping into the pool of apocryphal biblical narrative, rather then exclusively the New Testament. Genesis A and B tell of God’s creation of the Universe and Man (and woman), the expulsion of angels from paradise, Satan’s lament and agency causing Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Paradise. It goes on to report the evolution of their human progeny, God’s punishment and resetting of his universe from Cain and Abel all the way to Abraham. Exodus is a short poem describing the wondering of Moses’ Israelites escaping Egypt and their crossing of the red sea, reaching the Promised Land. Daniel treats the Israelites’ Babilonian slavery, Daniel’s rise in authority through God’s authority, Nebuchadnezzar’s authority, dreams, madness and return to Babylon. The Christ and Satan poem treat’s Christ facing off against Lucifer, first in the desert as described in the New Testament, then, apocryphally, in Hell, where Jesus goes during the three days after his crucifixion to liberate souls, who were pure, but would have been kept from heaven, if they were robbed of the chance to enter through Him. There is a certain overarching theme, which has been interpreted in various way, from being prepared in liturgical order to being a reflection of the Domesday fears of the late 9th century. There is evidence of contemporaneous belief that the world would be judged in the year 1000, mere decades after the Junius MS is believed to have been produced.

In 1832, Benjamin Thorpe published the first readable text of Junius XI as Cædmon's Metrical Paraphrase of Parts of the Holy Scriptures in Anglo-Saxon; with an English Translation, Notes, and a Verbal Index.1 Next, the manuscript was notably examined and described by Sir Israel Gollancz in 1927,2 George Phillip Krapp in 1931,3 and more recently in 1996 by Remley4 who limited his discussion to the Old Testament Narratives making up the so-called Liber I and excluding Christ and Satan. J. R. Hall was extremely critical of Remley’s Old English Biblical Verse in his 1999 review though he never reproached him for his knowledge, but rather for the lack of clarity of his argument and a few smaller omissions. Muir’s digital edition of Junius XI,5 contains photographs of the original manuscript, transcriptions, as well as commentary and Kennedy’s translations of the Junius XI poems.6 I used the digital edition as my main source for parsing the narratives because it includes photographs of the actual manuscript in searchable format and afforded me the option to examine the writing and the illustrations.

The scholarship examining the Old Testament poems as a whole has been augmented by editions of individual poems, especially Doane’s editions of the Genesis poems7 and Lucas’ 1977 edition of Exodus.8 Lucas chronologically followed Irving’s 1953 edition;9 however Irving continued to develop his scholarship on Exodus in several subsequent comments and amendments well into the 1970s.10 The latest editions of the Daniel and Christ and Satan poems are Robert Finnegan’s Christ and Satan11 and Farrell’s Daniel and Azarias.12 Doane’s editions of the Genesis poems included commentary on the larger manuscript issues. Though this was not an actual edition of the Junius XI poems, Remley’s 1996 Biblical Verse critically revised the scholarship on the Old Testament narratives of Junius XI (excluding Christ and Satan) including that of the later part of the twentieth century.13 Finally I must mention the latest addition to the Junius XI publications, Daniel Anlezark’s 2011 Old Testament Narratives which is useful as a translation of the Old Testament poems of Junius XI with notes to compare with Kennedy’s.14 All the translations of the Junius XI poems featured in the thesis, including those in the Appendix, are from Kennedy’s translation of the Junius XI poem, and are occasionally discussed alongside Anlezark’s and Bradley’s where the discussion calls for comparison.15 The scriptural passages in the original and translation are taken from the Vulgate and Douay-Rheims Bible.16



II. The Poems: Content and Context


The first poem of the manuscript, Genesis A, runs from lines 1 – 234, which describe the creation which is then interrupted by Genesis B. The majority of Genesis A then takes place after the conclusion of Genesis B and runs from line 851 to line 2936, from the expulsion from Eden to the conclusion of the episode of Abraham’s sacrifice.

Between lines 235 and 851 Genesis B is seamlessly interpolated where the expected content of Genesis A would be the committal of the original sin. Doane suggests that the scribe was following an extant exemplar, which contained the Genesis A and Genesis B poems already in combination; he believes the exemplar necessitated the inclusion because the available version of Genesis A at the time was either unreadable or missing.17

With its 2312 lines, Genesis A is the longest of the Junius XI poems. Its form is more descriptive than that of, for example, Exodus or Christ and Satan. It follows scripture much more directly than the other poems do. This is why it is easier to compare its passages relating to possession to scripture.18 On the whole, this poem lends itself best to comparison with scripture since the similarities between the Vulgate and Genesis A are consistently identifiable and so it is easier to spot original additions on the part of the Old English poet. There is also plentiful extant scholarship on possible sources for the poets’ additions other than the direct passage of the Vulgate.19

Genesis B is an Old English adoption of an Old Saxon poem. Edward Sievers had speculated its existence based on textual analysis in 1875.20 This was conclusively proven nineteen years later in 1894, when the actual Saxon Genesis was discovered in the Vatican library. Genesis B’s lines are usually counted continuously with Genesis A; they run from 235 to 851. I count them in the same way, though consistently mark it Genesis B in my discussion. It is a fairly short poem and does not follow scripture, though it includes parts of its narrative. Genesis B has been perceived as superior in style to Genesis A.21 Its style is more dramatic, focused on first person speech with added plasticity of characters, and most importantly, its interpretation of scripture takes much more liberties.

At the centre of the poem is Satan’s lament with pride presented as his motivation for leading of Adam and Eve into sin. The poem begins with the creation of Adam and Eve and God’s grant of Paradise and its benefits into their possession. Doane viewed the interpolation as a matter of either necessity or choice allowing Genesis A to contain the Fall of Man story.22 The poem’s foreign inception did not impact the editor’s choice to include it mid-narrative, which is why I have no qualms about using it alongside the other poems of Junius XI. I do however strive to consistently remark which of my conclusions are tied to Genesis B and try to correlate any conclusions with evidence in other poems.

Exodus is the shortest of the Junius XI poems; consists of 590 lines of text relating the story of the Israelites’ wandering through the desert and crossing the Red Sea. The style of the poem is much less descriptive than that of the Genesis A and Daniel poems but it contains considerably more allegory and imagery. Exodus also contains two so-called patriarchal digressions in a single continuous block of narrative; one recapitulates the story of Noah’s Flood emphasising the ensuing covenant and the other recalls Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac.

The emphasis throughout is on God’s promise of future bliss and the hereditary right to the Promised Land. These parts of the narrative were, at various times, proposed to be interpolations but are now generally viewed as an integral part of the poem linking several of its themes.23 Early on, the patriarchal ingression was viewed as a disturbance in the poetic flow: Hugo Balg suggested treating the digressions excerpt separately as Exodus B.24 Alois Brandl also proposed the ingressions be treated as a separate poem; he proposed the title »Noah und andere Patriarchen«.25 Sedgefield did not include the passage in his edition at all and even criticized Krapp for including it.26 W. P. Ker called the digression ‘intolerable,’ and Charles Kennedy thought it interrupted the poetic sequence of Exodus.27 Even though, as Hauer put it, the rejection by the early scholars can be understood given what was known at the time, he landed on the side of unity.28 The term digressions remains in use, in spite of Richard Marsden’s convincing argument that they are integral to the poem’s intended message of the ancient right to the Promised Land, which is attained at the close of the poem and that the term ‘digressions’ should be replaced with ‘ingressions’.29

Daniel comprises 764 lines. The narrative begins with the enslavement of the Israelites and concludes abruptly with the destruction of the Israelite sacrificial vessels. These are perceived as a part of Solomon’s treasure and as belonging to the Israelite people. It follows the Vulgate relatively closely but takes its matter from several of its books. The parts of the Vulgate preceding the beginning of Daniel are condensed into a short introduction to the poem’s main narrative. Daniel also includes a long version of the song of the three Youths in the Furnace, which was proposed to have taken as its source, not the Vulgate, but the Canticle version.30

Christ and Satan stands out from the other poems. Among other things it does not treat Old Testament narrative and is not dependent on the Vulgate as a source. The editor, like Ælfric, had no qualms about indiscriminately using New Testament Apocryphal matter such as the Gospel of Nicodemus, which has been identified as a possible source of parts of Christ and Satan.31 Indeed, Old English biblical poetry includes narratives of New Testament Apocrypha just as readily as canonical narrative. According to Biggs, »the Anglo-Saxons would have inherited both an interest in and a distrust of the Apocrypha from the Latin fathers, in particular Jerome and Augustine.«32 In content, however, Christ and Satan fits well in the cycle of the Junius XI poems. It presents doomsday as the antithesis to the creation in Genesis and provides catharsis to the transient mortal suffering of the Israelite wanderings of the Exodus and Daniel poems. It also echoes many contentual emphases from the outset of the mansucript, such as Satan's Lament.



III. The Date of the Junius XI Manuscript and its Poems


The Junius XI manuscript has not yet conclusively been dated. The manuscript seems to have been thoroughly edited at its creation; the Liber I consists of the first four poems that treat Old Testament narratives and excludes Christ and Satan, which makes up the entirety of the so-called Liber II. It is written in a single insular minuscule hand typical of the late tenth century following a uniform layout, most pages being ruled for twenty-six lines.33 On palaeographic grounds, Ker dated Junius XI to the turn of the eleventh century.34 Francis Wormald dated the copying of Junius XI to the second quarter of the eleventh century, because of the presence of ‘Scandinavian’ artwork.35 Similarly, Doane dated the manuscript to about 1025,36 as did Lucas.37 Barbara Raw has stated that some of the illustrations were added later, perhaps as late as 1100-1250.38 As Remley put it in 1996: »… her comments regarding the prominent display of the volume (possibly on a lectern) thus perhaps suggesting a hitherto unsuspected Anglo-Norman cultivation of Old English verse.«39

The debate is on-going; in 2002 Leslie Lockett applied integrated analysis to the dating of the manuscript. In her words: »Junius XI has not yet been the subject of a thorough, interdisciplinary analysis, and efforts to date it by individual features have produced discrepant results.«40 She concludes that the Junius XI manuscript collection dates to between 960-990.41 Doane argues that there may have existed a single exemplar containing Liber I without the Genesis B, which was added later, its inclusion necessary because the exemplar was in part damaged.42 The exemplar is conjectured to have existed about a century before the construction of the Junius XI manuscript, which would have the scriptural narratives possibly circulating together in written form throughout the tenth century, though possibly without Christ and Satan.43

The date of the binding is less pertinent to the scope of this thesis, but it deserves a very short recapitulation just to help us keep in mind the problematic nature of dating involved in examining even a single manuscript. Stoddart dates the current binding to the fifteenth century, a view accepted by Gollanz, Timmer and, more recently, Doane.44 Doane, writing in 1978, decided for the fifteenth century in spite of having access to Lucas’ (1977) argument for the latest binding dating to 1025-1050.45 Pacht and Alexander in 1973 proposed that the re-sewing, and so presumably the latest binding, dates to c. 1200. Barbara Raw, based on technical and stylistic evidence, decided on an early thirteenth century date.46



IV. Dating Individual Poems of Junius XI: Issues and Suggestions


Dating is a common problem for all of Old English poetry, which adheres to poetic language and employs standard formulas and set phrases no matter the time of its creation. As Elizabeth Tyler explains, due to the »exceptional stylistic stability of Old English poetics, individual Old English poems are difficult to date and thus to fit into a chronological framework.«47 The general issues of dating Old English poetry have been explained in detail by Cronan in his 2004 article48 and are often echoed in relation to dating specific poems.49 The issues may be recapitulated as follows: the creation of individual poems is an open ended accretive process with no single date or place of composition.50 Even if parts of poems could be dated, for example on the basis of language, dialect, or terminology for social hierarchies (such as introducing foreign terms denoting ranks either of Danish or Norman origin) this is not proof of the dating of the poem as a whole, or that the poem even was initially composed in the form in which it is preserved today. An illustration of this potential problem, though also proof of the capacity of scholarly examination, is the initial assumption that Genesis A and B were a single text followed by the identification of Genesis B as a separate interpolated and imported poem even before the Saxon Genesis was discovered.

The bulk of Genesis A is written in a standard mixed poetic dialect51 and is generally impossible to date as a unit. The terminus ad quem proposed by Doane is 1000-25, while he proposes the earliest possible date to be 680; as Doane notes, this is nothing more than calling it an Old English poem.52 By proposing that Genesis A was included in an exemplar a century before the current binding of Junius XI, Doane implies that the poem existed in written form in the tenth century. A large part of Genesis A has been verbally paralleled with the Beowulf, Exodus, and Daniel poems. Doane in his edition agrees that Genesis A could be contemporaneous with Beowulf. However he does not agree with Beowulf’s early date.53

The hypothesis that Genesis B is an interpolation was confirmed with the discovery of the Vatican manuscript containing parts of the actual Old Saxon Genesis in 1894.54 According to Doane, at this time the poem’s latest editor, the Old English Genesis B included in an exemplar for the Junius XI was at least a century older than Junius XI.55 Doane leans on codicological evidence to refute Timmer’s hypothesis that Genesis B was interpolated only at the time of the copying of Junius XI.56 He also argues against the late tenth-century date of the Genesis B translation, which had been proposed by Gordon Hall, Robert Priebsch, and Thomas Ohlgren who based their individual cases on extralinguistic analysis.57 Doane convincingly explains the process by which the Old Saxon Genesis was translated, or as he phrases it, ‘inscribed’, retaining many original words with some words shortened to fit Old English metre.

He views Old Saxon as intelligible to the Old English audience and states that the poem circulated in Anglo-Saxon England as early as 900, possibly even 850. Finally he points out that even if the poem was included in order to stand in for scriptural matter which had been either corrupted in an exemplar or somehow not deemed sufficient, this does not address the question of how and in what way the Old Saxon poem came to circulate in Anglo-Saxon England in the first place.58

For the original composition of Exodus an early date and similarity with Beowulf have been proposed by Lucas, who dated the poems to 700-800,59 disagreeing with Irving who favoured the late seventh or early eighth century.60 The poem exhibits a sense of unity and consistent form which is why attempts have been made to find a single source for the poem; in the late nineteenth century Groth and Mürkens proposed De Transitu Maris Rubri, written in the fifth century by Avitus, Bishop of Vienne.61 However, as Irving reports, in 1911 Samuel Moore demolished every one of Mürkens' arguments.62 Lucas, the latest editor, sees »the Christian tradition in which the poem must have been written« as the real source of the poem; he then points to three elements of the Christian tradition which were in his opinion the source for Exodus: the Bible, scriptural commentary, and the liturgy.63 Later scholarship has not proposed an alternative dating, which I view as yet another testament to the difficulty of dating Old English poems.

Similarly the dating of Daniel has largely been left unaddressed ever since Kemp Malone in 1948 suggested an origin in early eighth-century Northumbria.64 Farrell’s latest edition (1977) of the poem never proposed a date at all.65 As Doane reasoned, while previous editors had the freedom to construct »elaborate and confident conclusions about the composition and homes of their poems,« Kenneth Sisam’s seminal 1959 article, ‘Dialect Origins of the Earlier Old English Verse’ pointing out that it is impossible to distinguish which preserved layers can be discerned in poems in a single existing copy made it difficult for later scholars to attempt the same.66 The poem’s abrupt termination, and the absence of a note finit Liber I, which would balance out the note penned in at the end of Christ and Satan: finit Liber II. Amen, have been used to argue that Daniel in its current form is incomplete;67 Krapp maintained that a loss may have occurred in the manuscript, though he suggested that it was improbable that the Junius XI manuscript ever contained a paraphrase of the entire scriptural Book of Daniel, even if such a paraphrase existed elsewhere.68

Christ and Satan stands out from the manuscript in several ways. Physical differences, the layout, handwriting and size of folia demonstrate that the inclusion of this poem was not simultaneous with the others; Lucas proposed that Christ and Satan was previously a separate booklet, which circulated autonomously before being added and bound into the Junius XI manuscript.69 This would also account for Daniel’s abrupt ending.70

Barbara Raw disagreed; according to her Christ and Satan was already included at the time the manuscript was re-bound in its current binding in the thirteenth century.71 She adds that the manuscript was still being read in the 12th century.

Like Exodus, Christ and Satan has no identified single source though Wright has suggested Irish influences; the Christ and Satan poet, like the Exodus poet, composed using a vast and varied knowledge of Christian lore.72 The central issue has long been the question of the poem’s unity, resulting in a scholarly debate as to whether Christ and Satan is a collection of excerpts, or a single poem.73 In 1925 Gollancz, agreeing with Clubb’s assessment that the poem was a unit and the work of a single poet, divided it in two thematic parts: ‘the lament of the fallen angels’ and ‘the harrowing of hell’ and added that there was a third ‘afterthought’ which he dubbed ‘the temptation’.74 More recently, in 1977, Finnegan argued convincingly for a single poem in the only recent critical edition of Christ and Satan; by way of homiletic Anglo-Saxon analogues, he presented a thematic dramatic structure in three parts as purposefully developing Christ’s character from omnipotent to a more relatable human character.75



Manuscript Unity and Instructional Intent


The poems of Junius XI may be studied not only in isolation, but as a compilation purposefully chosen by an editorial hand. There is contentual evidence of some coherence of theme and purpose, which will be explored in this section. Scholarship has identified several unifying and common traits in theme, content, theology, and even use and intent of the poems at their inclusion into the manuscript. As early as 1912, Bright argued that the first three poems of Junius XI were intended for use in the liturgical service for Holy Saturday. He excluded Christ and Satan from his proposed typological series, noting that it was an unplanned later addition.76 Gollancz quickly opposed him in 1927,77 and in 1996 so did Remley.78 In 1974 Rendall based part of his argument proposing common elements between Exodus and Christ and Satan’s Harrowing of Hell episode.79 In 1977, Lucas joined Bright in interpreting the heofoncandel as the paschal candle, which he saw as further evidence for the intended liturgical use of the manuscript as a whole.80 Barbara Raw concurred in 1978.81 Recently, in 2005, Anlezark stated that only the section of the patriarchal narrative in Exodus relating the sacrifice of Isaac »suggests the possibility of a direct connection to the Easter readings«,82 while in 2006, Lapidge generally agreed that in Junius XI there is an emphasis on the baptismal symbolism.83 The prevailing view purports that at least the Liber I collection of Junius XI poems was a larger purposefully assembled unit intended for specific use, while Christ and Satan may have been added later, either by design or simply to fill a perceived void in the dramaturgical arch from creation to doomsday.

There are no titles or paragraphs to disturb the flow of the verse across the manuscript. If read aloud divided according to the liturgical cycle,84 and readings during lent,85 the verse could have been read in topical clusters, making it still more difficult for the audience to perceive individual poems as autonomous. As argued by Irving,86 reading the poems by parts, even out of sequence, would make the specific dissimilarities of individual poems even less likely to be perceived or appear relevant to the audience. If read out loud in clusters, the narrative of the manuscript would appear much more uniform and monolithic than if read to oneself, poem by poem, as the narratives are divided today.

In addition to their thematic unity, the scriptural paraphrases of Junius XI are also appropriate for my purposes because of their instructional nature and their inherent potential to relate the ideals of social conduct that they are trying to instil in its audience.87 The mere fact that scriptural narrative was adapted to the Old English poetic genre, rather than simply translated, points to the possibility of an instructional intent. The Junius XI poems belong to a greater and older Anglo-Saxon tradition of scriptural instruction through vernacular genres. As early as Bede, separate vernacular texts had been composed for the instruction of the unlearned: »Bede saw the great importance of the use of the vernacular for basic instruction in the faith and provided ignorant priests with his own English translations of the creed and the Lord's Prayer«.88 In England four codices mostly versifying biblical stories which were written in late tenth and early eleventh century »represent a much larger and more accomplished body of vernacular poetry than survives on the Continent«.89 This large body reframes scriptural matter to the Anglo-Saxon social and cultural environment; it also presents it in a much more dramatic and entertaining way.

Over sixty years ago, Hardin Craig alluded to the question of the instructional intent of vernacular paraphrases in discussing the Corpus Christi cycle drama: »It is evident that a parallel exists between the cycles of plays and the great religious epics of the Middle Ages«.90 Woolf emphasises that »whilst the cycles were consciously designed, the authors were not primarily moved by liturgical considerations. Far more important was the intention of instructing the unlearned«.91 The poems of Junius XI often add dramatization to the scriptural narrative. Combining scriptural narrative with vernacular entertainment and its familiar forms results in a similar didactic effect. Remley also believed that the »Junius poems may be viewed as reflexes of Anglo-Saxon methods of biblical instruction«.92 As late as 2008, Conner shared the same view but elaborated that apart from themselves being didactic, the poems are already based on didactic materials achieving a tradition of belief.93 Conner dubs them »doctrinal religious poems« and compares them to heroic and battle poetry in the way they speak to the minds of all audiences. He goes on to define the poems by quoting Certeau as »situated on the side of relaxation.«94


(End of part 1, introduction to the manuscript.)




Bibliografija / Bibliography


Abrams, L. (2008), ‘Germanic Christianities, 600-c. 1100’, in Thomas F. X. Noble, Julia M. H. Smith, and Roberta A. Baranowski (eds.), Cambridge History of Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

 Andersen, Hans E. (1991), The Battle of Maldon: the Meaning, Dating & Historicity of an Old English Poem (Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen).

Anlezark, Daniel (2011), Old Testament Narratives (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press).

Balg, Hugo (1882), Der Dichter Caedmon und seine Werke (Bonn).

Battles, Paul (2000), »‘Genesis A’ and the Anglo-Saxon ‘Migration Myth’«, Anglo-Saxon England, 29, 43-66.

Biggs, F. M. (2003), ‘An Introduction and Overview of Recent Work’, in Kathryn Powell and Donald Scragg (ed.), Apocryphal Texts and Traditions in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer), 1-25.

Biggs, F.M., Hill T.D., Szarmach P.E., Hammond K. (ed.), (1990), Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture: A Trial Version (Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 74; Binghamton, New York: Centre for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York).

Brandl, Alois (1908), Geschichte der altenglishcen Literatur (I; Strassburg).

Breeze, Andrew (1993), ‘Habakkuk 1:8 as Source for Exodus 161–69’, Neophilologus, 77 (1), 161-62.

Bright, James W. (1912), ‘The Relation of the Cædmonian Exodus to the Liturgy', Modern Language Notes, 27 (4), 97-103.

Calder, Daniel G. and Allen, Michael J. (eds.) (1976), Sources and Analogues of Old English Poetry: the Major Latin Texts in Translation (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer).

Certeau, Michel de (1988), The Writing of History (European perspectives; New York: Columbia University Press) xxviii, 368 p.

Clubb, Merrel D. (1925), Christ and Satan an Old English Poem (New Haven: Yale University Press).

Conner, P. W. (2008), ‘Religious Poetry’, in Philip Pulsiano and Elaine Treharne (ed.), A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature (Malden MA and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing), 250-67.

Craig, Hardin (1912-13), ‘The Origin of the Old Testament Plays’, Modern Philology, 10 (4), 473-87.

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Groth, Ernst Johannes (1883), ‘Composition und Alter der altenglischen (angelsächsischen) Exodus’, Thesis.

Hall, Gordon Gerould (1911), ‘The Transmission and Date of Genesis B’, Modern Language Notes, 26 (5), 129-33.

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--- (1976), ‘The Oldest English Epic of Redemption: The Theological Unity of MS Junius 11’, Traditio, 32, 185-208.

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--- (1974), ‘Exodus Retraced’, in Jr. Robert B. Burlin and Edward B. Irving (ed.), Old English Studies in Honour of John C. Pope (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 203-23.

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Lapidge, Michael (2006), ‘Versifying the Bible in the Middle Ages’, in Jill Mann and Maura Nolan (eds.), The Text in the Community: Essays on Medieval Works, Manuscripts, Authors, and Readers (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press), 11-40.

Lockett, Leslie (2002), ‘An Integrated Re-examination of the Dating of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’, Anglo-Saxon England, 31, 141-73.

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--- (1979), ‘On the Incomplete Ending of Daniel and the Addition of Christ and Satan to MS Junius 11’, Anglia, 97, 46-59.

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Priebsch, Robert (1925), The Heliand Manuscript Cotton Calligula A. VII in the British Museum (Oxford: Oxford Clarendon Press).

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Raw, Barbara Catherine (1978), The Art and Background of Old English Poetry (London: Edward Arnold).

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Opombe / Notes:


1 Irving, The Old English Exodus; B. Thorpe and B. Rogers, Caedmon's Metrical Paraphrase.

2 Gollancz (ed.), Caedmon Manuscript.

3 Krapp (ed.), The Junius Manuscript.

4 Remley, Old English Biblical Verse.

5 Muir, »A Digital Facsimile of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Junius 11«.

6 Ibid.; Kennedy and Caedmon, The Caedmon Poems.

7 Doane, Genesis A; The Saxon Genesis.

8 Lucas, Exodus.

9 Irving, The Old English Exodus.

10 Irving, »New Notes on the Old English Exodus«; E. B. Irving, »Exodus Retraced«.

11 Finnegan, Christ and Satan.

12 Farrell (ed.), Daniel and Azarias.

13 Remley, Old English Biblical Verse.

14 Anlezark, Old Testament Narratives.

15 Kennedy, The Caedmon Poems; Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry; Anlezark, Old Testament Narratives.

16 Weber and Gryson (ed.), Biblia Sacra Vulgata Editio Quinta; Challoner (ed.), Douay-Rheims Bible. Both are available online at <> [»Last accessed 30 August, 2015«].

17 Doane, Genesis A, p. 11.

18 The General consensus seems to be that most poets were well learned in Christian tradition including Irish and Patristic writing, whereas there were individual books of scripture these were not available in a unit: Remley, Old English Biblical Verse, p. 10. And what there was of scripture was the Latin Vulgate: Biggs, »An Introduction and Overview of Recent Work«, p. 2; Hall, »Biblical and Patristic Learning«, p. 328.

[Sploshni konsez je, da so bili vsi pesniki dobro poucheni o krshcanski tradiciji vkljuchno z irsko in patristichno literaturo. Obstajale so sicer posamezne knjige Svetega pisma, a ne skupaj v eni knjigi. Predvsem pa so imeli na voljo latinsko Vulgato.]

19 In addition to critical editions of individual poems there are several publications dealing with the possible sources of individual passages, for example: Biggs, Hill; Szarmach, Hammond (eds.), Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture; Calder and Allen (eds.), Sources and Analogues of Old English Poetry; Moore, »On the Sources of the Old-English ‘Exodus’«; Battles, »‘Genesis A’ and the Anglo-Saxon ‘Migration Myth’; Hill, ‘Pilate's Visionary Wife and the Innocence of Eve’; Johnson, »The Fall of Lucifer in ‘Genesis A’ and Two Anglo-Latin Royal Charters«; Raw, ‘The Probable Derivation’; Ritter, ‘The Angles and the Angels’; Wright, ‘The Blood of Abel and the Branches of Sin’; Anlezark, ‘Connecting the Patriarchs’; Breeze, ‘Habakkuk 1:8 as Source for Exodus 161–69’; Bright, ‘The Relation of the Cædmonian Exodus to the Liturgy’; Cross and Tucker, ‘Allegorical Tradition and the Old English Exodus’; Earl, ‘Christian Traditions and the Old English Exodus’; Ferguson, ‘The Old English Exodus and the Patristic Tradition’; Green, ‘Gregory's Moralia as an Inspirational Source’; Hall, ‘The Building of the Temple’; Hill, ‘The Virga of Moses’; Keenan, ‘Exodus 513, The Green Streets of Paradise’; Klaeber, ‘Concerning the Relation Between Exodus and Beowulf’; Martin, »Allegory and the African Woman in the Old English ‘Exodus’«; Moore, ‘On the Sources of the Old-English ‘Exodus’«; Trahern, ‘More Scriptural Echoes in the Old English Exodus’; Calder and Allen (eds.), Sources and Analogues of Old English Poetry.

20 Sievers, Der Heliand und die angelsächsische Genesis; see also Doane, The Saxon Genesis.

21 Doane, The Saxon Genesis, p. 41.

22 Ibid., p. 54.

23 Most notably Gollancz proposed to rearrange the three larger parts in a new order: I. Gollancz (ed.), Caedmon Manuscript. Brandl listed the Noah episode as a separate independent fragment under the name »Noah und Andere Patriarchen« in Irving, The Old English Exodus, p. 8. There is an excellent overview of the issue by Hauer, »The Patriarchal Digression in the Old English ‘Exodus’, Lines 362-446«. He, however, belongs among the proponents of the unity theory: Ferguson, »Noah, Abraham, and the Crossing of the Red Sea'; Anlezark, ‘Connecting the Patriarchs’«.

[Gollancz je predlagal celo nov vrstni red, v katerem bi se ti trije deli vrstili. Brandl je odsek o Noetu objavil kot posebno enoto. Hauer je objavil odlichen pregled. Sam sicer zagovarja enovitost.]

24 Balg, Der Dichter Caedmon und seine Werke, pp. 24-7.

25 Brandl, Geschichte der altenglishcen Literatur, p. 1029.

26 Sedgefield, Specimens of Anglo-Saxon Poetry; he criticized Krapp in Sedgefield, »Review: The Junius Manuscript by George Philip Krapp«, pp. 352-5.

27 Ker, The Dark Ages, pp. 176. 260-1; Kennedy, The Earliest English Poetry.

28 Hauer, ‘The Patriarchal Digression’, p. 78.

29 Marsden, ‘The Death of the Messenger’, p. 143.

30 Steiner, »Über die Interpolation im angelsächsischen Gedichte ‘Daniel’«, pp. 21-5.

31 Hall, ‘Ælfric and the Epistle to the Laodicians’; F. M. Biggs, ‘An Introduction and Overview of Recent Work’, p. 22.

32 Biggs, ‘An Introduction and Overview’, p. 11.

33 Krapp (ed.), The Junius Manuscript, p. ix.

34 Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon, no. 334, p. 406.

35 Wormald, ‘Decorated Initials in English Manuscripts from A.D. 900 to 1100’.

36 Doane, The Saxon Genesis, p. 29; Doane, Genesis A, pp. 13, 18.

37 Lucas, Exodus.

38 Raw, ‘The Construction of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’, p. 199.

39 Remley, Old English Biblical Verse, p. 20.

40 Lockett, ‘An Integrated Re-examination of the Dating of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’, p.142.

41 Ibid., p. 173.

42 Doane, Genesis A, p. 22.

43 Doane, The Saxon Genesis, pp. 34, 48-9.

44 Stoddart, ‘The Caedmon Poems in MS Junius 11’, p. 158; Gollancz (ed.), Caedmon Manuscript, p. xxxv; Timmer, The Later Genesis, p. 3; Doane, Genesis A, p. 6.

45 Lucas, Exodus, p. 4.

46 Raw, ‘The Construction of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’, p. 205.

47 Tyler, Old English Poetics, p. 157.

48 Cronan, ‘Poetic Words, Conservatism and the Dating of Old English Poetry’.

49 Andersen, The Battle of Maldon; Liuzza, ‘On the Dating of Beowulf’; Lockett, ‘An Integrated Re-examination of the Dating of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’.

50 Tyler, Old English Poetics, p. 157.

51 Sisam, ‘Dialect Origins of the Earlier Old English Verse’.

52 Doane, Genesis A, pp. 36-7.

53 Ibid., p. 37.

54 Doane, The Saxon Genesis, p. ix.

55 Ibid., p. 48.

56 Timmer, The Later Genesis, pp. 14-15.

57 Hall, ‘The Transmission and Date of Genesis B’; Priebsch, The Heliand Manuscript Cotton Calligula A. VII in the British Museum, p. 40; Ohlgren, ‘Some New Light on the Old English Cædmonian Genesis’, pp. 61-62; Doane, Genesis A, pp. 34, 49.

58 Doane, The Saxon Genesis, pp. 49-54.

59 Lucas, Exodus, p. 71.

60 Irving, The Old English Exodus, pp. 23-5; Irving, ‘Exodus Retraced’, p. 209; Irving, ‘On the Dating of the Old English Poems Genesis and Exodus’.

61 Groth, ‘Composition und Alter der altenglischen (angelsächsischen) Exodus’; Mürkens, Untersuchungen über das altenglische Exoduslied.

62 Moore, »On the Sources of the Old-English ‘Exodus’«; Irving, The Old English Exodus, p. 13.

63 Remley, Old English Biblical Verse, pp. 53-8.

64 Malone, ‘The Old English Period (to 1000)’.

65 Farrell (ed.), Daniel and Azarias.

66 Doane, Genesis A, p. 25; he is recapitulating Sisam, ‘Dialect Origins of the Earlier Old English Verse’, pp. 119-39.

67 Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon, p. 407; Hall, ‘The Oldest English Epic of Redemption’, p. 186; Lucas, ‘On the Incomplete Ending of Daniel and the Addition of Christ and Satan to MS Junius 11’, p. 52; Raw, ‘The Construction of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11’, pp. 187-207; Krapp (ed.), The Junius Manuscript.

68 Krapp (ed.), The Junius Manuscript, pp. xxxi-xxxiii.

69 Lucas, ‘On the Incomplete Ending’. A more detailed description of the physical evidence to the poems late inclusion can be found in: Raw, ‘The Construction’, pp. 202-3; Remley, Old English Biblical Verse, pp. 21-22.

70 Lucas, ‘On the Incomplete Ending’.

71 Raw, ‘The Construction’, pp. 203-5.

72 Krapp (ed.), The Junius Manuscript, p. xxxv; Wright, The Irish Tradition in Old English Literature, p. 130.

73 Clubb, Christ and Satan an Old English Poem; Finnegan, Christ and Satan; Sleeth, Studies in Christ and Satan.

74 Clubb, Christ and Satan, p. xlvii; I. Gollancz (ed.), Caedmon Manuscript, p. cv.

75 Finnegan, Christ and Satan, pp. 22-36.

76 Bright, ‘The Relation of the Cædmonian Exodus to the Liturgy’.

77 Gollancz (ed.), Caedmon Manuscript.

78 Remley, Old English Biblical Verse, p. 173.

79 Rendall, ‘Bondage and Freeing from Bondage in Old English Religious Poetry’, p. 508. Harrowing of Hell is a designation for the typical medieval popular fable describing Christ’s entering Hell not unlike a military commander freeing enslaved souls and winning them for the Kingdom of Heaven.

[Harrowing of Hell prevajam kot Plenjenje Pekla; gre za tipichno srednjeveshko temo, kjer Kristus vstopi v pekel kot nekakshen vojashki poveljnik, da bi osvobodil zasuzhnjene dushe ter jih odpelje v Nebeshko kraljestvo.]

80 Lucas, Exodus, p. 50.

81 Raw, The Art and Background, pp. 1, 84.

82 Anlezark, ‘Connecting the Patriarchs’, p. 172.

83 Lapidge, ‘Versifying the Bible in the Middle Ages’, p. 16.

84 The idea was first presented in 1912 in Bright, ‘The Relation of the Cædmonian Exodus to the Liturgy’.

85 Raw, ‘The Construction’.

86 Irving, The Old English Exodus, p. 1.

87 Remley, Old English Biblical Verse, p. 43.

88 Day, ‘The Influence of the Catechetical Narratio on Old English and Some Other Medieval Literature’, p. 55. The four codices are: The ‘MS Bodleian Junius XI’, ‘Cotton MS Vitellius A XV’ (i.e. ‘The Nowell Codex’, sometimes informally referred to as the ‘Beowulf Manuscript’), ‘Exeter Cathedral Library MS 3501’ (i.e. ‘The Exeter Book’), ‘Codex Vercellensis’ (i.e. ‘The Vercelli Book’).

89 Abrams, ‘Germanic Christianities, 600-c. 1100’, p. 127.

90 Hall, ‘The Oldest English Epic of Redemption’, p. 189; he is referencing Craig, ‘The Origin of the Old Testament Plays’, p. 482.

91 Woolf, The English Mystery Plays, p. 75.

92 Remley, Old English Biblical Verse, p. 43.

93 Conner, ‘Religious Poetry’, p. 260.

94 Certeau and T. Conley, The Writing of History, pp. 273-4.


Translated by author



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