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“Rihht alls an hunnte takeþþ der. /Wiþþ hise 3æpe racchess”: Hunting as a metaphor for proselytizing in the Ormulum
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2012 (English)In: The Use and Development of Middle English.: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Middle English, Cambridge 2008. / [ed] Richard Dance & Laura Wright, Bern: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2012Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Homily xxii of the twelfth-century Middle English homily collection Ormulum by the Augustinian canon Orm deals with the calling of the first disciples. In the account given in Matthew 4:18-22, we are told how first Peter and Andrew, then James and John, are made to leave their nets where they have been fishing in the Sea of Galilee in order to follow Jesus and become fishers of men. Much play is made in the Latin homiletic literature of the use of nets in fishing as metaphors for preaching and conversion.

Orm, however, takes his text for Homily xxii from John 1:35-51, where the story is told differently: John the Baptist saw Jesus walking past and said, "This is the Lamb of God", whereupon two of his disciples left him and followed Jesus. One of these was Andrew, who then brought his brother Simon to Jesus. The next day Jesus called Philip, whao came from the city of Bethsaida, just like Andrew and Simon. Philip then told Nathanael that they had found him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. No mention is made here of anybody's occupation, only of their home town (Betsaida, domus venatorum, 'the house of the hunters', according to Orm's source texts). Consequently, Orm plays down the role of 'fishers of men' and instead discusses the disciples as 'hunters for men's souls'. The only nets occurring in Orm's exposition and forming the source domain for his metaphor spelless nett ('net of preaching') are hunting nets for catching deer, not fishing nets.

In his exposition of the name of Bethsaida in Homily xxii Orm develops an extended 'hunting' metaphor representing successful preaching as part of proselytizing activities, taking the interpretation of Bethsaida, 'the house of the hunters', as his point of departure. The metaphor involves 'hunting' [hunntenn] and 'chasing' [slætenn] as well as 'catching' [lacchenn], 'net' [nett] and 'hounds' [hundess, racchess]. Apart from the analysis of this metaphor, the paper also discusses the possible impact of such a metaphor on a contemporary audience in the light of other representations of hunting, nets and hounds in medieval literature and art.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bern: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2012.
Keyword [en]
medieval literature; homilies; Middle English; metaphors; Ormulum
Keyword [sv]
medeltidslitteratur; homilier; medelengelska; metaforer; Ormulum
National Category
Specific Literatures
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-86372OAI: diva2:586798
Sixth International Conference on Middle English, Cambridge 2008
Available from: 2013-01-12 Created: 2013-01-12

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Johannesson, Nils-Lennart
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