The Middle English Life of Christ: Academic Discourse, Translation, and Vernacular Theology

The Middle English Life of Christ: Academic Discourse, Translation, and Vernacular Theology

by Ian Johnson
     
 

How much did Latin academic theoretical discourse inform mainstream late medieval English literature? Rather than asking this question of secular poetic fiction (Chaucer, Gower), this book investigates a more central genre, lives of Christ. Any adequate understanding of vernacular textuality, in an age when most literature was translation of some sort, cannot escape…  See more details below

Overview

How much did Latin academic theoretical discourse inform mainstream late medieval English literature? Rather than asking this question of secular poetic fiction (Chaucer, Gower), this book investigates a more central genre, lives of Christ. Any adequate understanding of vernacular textuality, in an age when most literature was translation of some sort, cannot escape the question of the influence of theory on transactions and ideology of mainstream literary culture in negotiating authority. Where better to test this than the life of Christ? Derived from the Gospels, this genre provided the set text for human existence. Too often, however, it has been regarded by modern scholarship as an infantilizing clerical sop to a laity deprived of Scripture and intellectual or contemplative ambition. Inquiry into the translating and the spirituality of Middle English lives of Christ yields, however, eloquent examples not of antagonism and rupture between Latin and vernacular but of of productive compatibility. This challenges the common modern supposition that vernacular texts and vernacular theology are at odds with Latinate clerical culture, and restores the genre's historic value. Like their dissenting counterparts, lives of Christ, as well as being of interest in their own right, invested in learned literary and theological norms in their textual transactions. Such reliance demands modern (re)consideration.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a valuable contribution to the literature on the lithe sophistication of fifteenth-century orthodoxies. It offers...valuable examples of Middle English translation practice at work in a spiritually central body of work." --Cynthia Turner Camp, The Medieval Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9782503547480
Publisher:
Brepols Publishers
Publication date:
10/31/2013
Series:
Medieval Church Studies Series, #30
Pages:
203

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