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Orrmulum and The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9051-3376
2018 (English)In: Textual Reception and Cultural Debate in Medieval English Studies / [ed] María José Esteve Ramos, José Ramón Prado-Pérez, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018, p. 155-176Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In passages copied by Jan van Vliet from the Orrmulum manuscript in 1659 Orrm claims that the twelve Patriarchs serve as examples of various virtues. Van Vliet copied no expository text, only lists of virtues and vices, from these pages, but he did supply the heading ‘De XII Patriarchis’ in his notebook (London, Lambeth Palace Library, MS. 783). Searches of the Patrologia Latina database fail to turn up a Latin text that might have been Orrm’s source for such claims.

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, by contrast, provides a discussion of all the vices and virtues that Orrm needed to make up his lists and ascribe them to the Patriarchs. This is a pseudepigraphical Jewish text with Christian interpolations, presumably finalized in the second century A.D. The text purports to be the dying speeches of the twelve sons of Jacob to their gathered offspring, containing much moral exhortation, apocalyptic visions, and prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and his passion and resurrection (‘Testaments’ 2012). In the thirteenth century Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, acquired a manuscript copy of the Greek text from Athens, a text which he translated into Latin in 1242 (H. J. de Jonge 1975: 100–01).

This article will demonstrate the correspondences between the Orrmulum passages in question and the text of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and in addition discuss the possibility for that text (or a summary of it) to have been available to Orrm long before Grosseteste made his translation. If we can trust the evidence of van Vliet’s copy in MS 783, then the reception history of The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in Western Europe will have to be modified.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018. p. 155-176
Keywords [en]
Orrmulum, Middle English, reception history
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Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-155208ISBN: 978-1-5275-0652-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-155208DiVA, id: diva2:1197713
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 421-2010-2094Available from: 2018-04-13 Created: 2018-04-13 Last updated: 2018-04-16Bibliographically approved

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