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A spirited retelling of the Gospel story in a Germanic setting, the ninth-century A.D. Old Saxon epic poem The Heliand is at last available in English in Ronald Murphy's graceful new translation. Representing the first full integration and poetic reworking of the Gospel story into Northern European warrior imagery and culture, the poem finds a place for many Old Northern religious concepts and images while remaining faithful to the orthodox Christian teaching of the Gospel of St. Mark. Accessible to students of medieval and comparative literature, Murphy's introduction and notes provide valuable insight and a cultural context for this unique masterpiece.
Introduction to the Translation The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel
1. The Creator's spell, by which the whole world is held together, is taught to four heroes.
2. Zachary see the Chieftain's angel in the shrine.
3. John comes to the light of mankind.
4. The All-Ruler's angel comes to Mary in Galileeland.
5. The Chieftain of mankind is born in David's hill-fort.
6. The Baby is brought to the Ruler's shrine.
7. Three thanes from the East, led by the workings of fate, follow a star.
8. The Three foreign warriors present their gifts to the Ruler's child.
9. Herod orders his warrior-companions to behead all two-year old boys around Bethlehem.
10. Mary and Joseph find the holy Child at the shrine.
11. John announces Christ's coming to Middlegard.
12. Christ the Chieftain is immersed in the Jordan by His loyal thane John.
13. The Champion of mankind fights off the loathsome enemy.
14. Christ the mighty Chieftan, chooses His first warrior-companions.
15. The mighty Rescuer call twelve to be His men.
16. The Chieftain's instructions on the mountain.
17. The instructions on the mountain.
18. The instructions on the mountain.
19. The instructions on the mountain; the secret runes of the Lord's Prayer.
20. The instructions on the mountain.
21. The instructions on the mountain.
22. The instructions on the mountain.
23. The end of the instructions on the mountain.
24. The marriage feast in the guest-hall at Fort Cana.
25. At hill-fort Capharnaum, God's Child of Peace heals a houselhold lad of a commander of a hundred men.
26. Christ the Rescuer raises the dead son of a widow outside Fort Naim.
27. Christ commands the wind and the sea.
28. The mighty Christ heals the cripple lowered through the roof by his warrior-companions.
29. The story of the earl who sowed good seed.
30. The explanation of the story.
31. The story of the wheat and the weeds.
32. The grim-hearted Jews of Galileeland attempt to throw Christ off a cliff.
33. John the soothsayer is beheaded.
34. With five loaves and two fishes the Chieftain of human beings feeds a great throng of earls.
35. The mighty Child of God and good Peter walk on water.
36. Christ the Ruler heals the daughter of a woman from a foreign clan.
37. Peter, the best of thanes, is given power over Hel's gates.
38. On the mountaintop the Son of God gives off bright light.
39. Christ pays the king's head tax to an arrogant thane.
40. Forgiving; the young man with the great treasure-hoard.
41. The story of the rich man and the beggar.
42. The story of the workers who came late to the vineyard.
43. Christ tells His loyal followers about His future torture and death; the curing of the blind men outside Fort Jericho.
44. The author explains the meaning of the cure of the blind.
45. Christ enters Fort Jerusalem and foretells its fate.
46. Christ praises the small gift to the shrine of the woman fated to poverty; He advises thanes to pay the emperor's taxes.
47. Christ the Champion protects the life-spirit of the woman caught in adultery.
48. Dissension over Christ's teaching; Martha and Mary send for Him; Thomas accepts a warrior's fate.
49. By decree of holy fate, God's Son is able to raise Lazarus from the grave.
50. The clan-gathering of the Jewish warriors decides to kill Chist.
51. The Chieftain of human clans teaches at the shrine.
52. The coming of doomsay.
54. The Passion begins; Judas betrays his own Chieftan to southen people; Christ washes the feet of His earls and thanes.
55. The last mead-hall feast with the warrior-companions.
56. The words of Christ give great powers to the bread and wine.
57. Christ's deep fear before battle; His last salute in the garden.
58. Christ the Chieftain is capture; Peter, the mighty swordsman, defends Him boldly.
59. Peter denies he is a warrior-companion of Christ.
60. Christ is brought before the assembly as a prisoner.
61. Christ stands in chains before Pilate of Pontusland; Judas, the deserter, hangs himself.
62. Pilate, Caesar's thane, speaks with God's son.
63. Warriors bring Christ in irons to King Herod; arrogant earls ridicule God's Child of Peace.
64. The Jewish warriors threaten Pilate with the ill-will of the emperor at Fort Rome.
65. Caesar's thane puts the Best of all men into the hands of the Jews.
66. The Chieftan is hanged on the criminal tree.
67. The Chieftan of mankind dies by the criminal tree rope; His spirit escapes.
68. The body is removed from the gallows tree and buried in the earth; Christ's spirit returns at night to the corpse; Christ rises.
69. The angel of the All-Ruler tells the women that the Chieftan is on His way to Galileeland.
70. The grave-guards are bribed with jewels; Peter, John, and Mary Magdalene come to the grave.
71. Christ the Ruler joins the warrior-company of earls on the road to Emmaus Castle.
Appendix 1. Germanic Religious Customs in Adam of Bremen's History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen
Appendix 2. Germanic Ties and Personal Loyalty
Appendix 3. Magic in the Heliand
Appendix 4. Symmetrical Structure in the Heliand