Friday, November 07, 2008

Medieval Literature I Didn't Know II.a Bibliography

Just a quick one here. Not much has been written on the Letter to Sigeweard. Its a rich text, and it is now beginning to attract attention beyond just my own work. By the way, it has traveled under 3 names: Letter to Sigeweard (its a letter and its addressed to Sigeweard), Treatise on the Old and New Testaments (translation of the incipit in Laud 509), and Libellus or Libellus de veteri testamento et novo, the Latin incipit in Laud 509. In my work, I opted for "Letter to Sigeweard" since the text of the letter contains so much more than simply a discussion of the Bible.

At the time I started, this was just in process:
Hall, Thomas N. "Ælfric and the Epistle to the Laodiceans." Apocryphal Texts and Traditions in Anglo-Saxon England. Ed. Kathryn Powell and Donald Scragg. Publications of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies 2. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003. 65-83.

Then followed news that Richard Marsden was updating the EETS volume edited by Crawford, S. J. The Old English Version of the Heptateuch, The Treatise on the Old and New Testament, and His Preface to Genesis, EETS os 160 (London: 1922) and will someday appear as The Old English Heptateuch and Ælfric's Libellus de veteri testamento et novo for EETS os 330 by OUP. When I exchanged emails with Dr. Marsden, it was to appear in Dec. 2006. Last May it was advertised at K'zoo by Boydell who handles EETS volumes as appearing in October. But the Oxford site now says Nov. 21, 2008. We'll see. And that's only volume 1!

The first editor of the text was William L'Isle whom I mentioned in my original post on the subject. He is the first modern editor, publishing in 1623 and stands as a bridge figure between Parker, Cotton and that generation of Old English scholars and Junius later in the 17th century. He was interested in establishing the theology of the Anglo-Saxon church to use in the ongoing Protestant Reformation especially in terms of the Bible in the vernacular and the Eucharist. Thus, his interest in the letter. His work is: A Saxon Treatise on the Old and New Testaments written at the time of King Edgar (Aboute 700 Yeares Agoe) by Aelfricus Abbas....(the title is hugely long) Printed by John Haviland for Henrie Seile, 1623. In 1638, after L'Isle's death, the book was reiussed as Divers Ancient Monuments....I should mention too that in addition to the Letter, L'Isle reprinted Matthew Parker's edition of an Easter sermon by Aelfric, that itself was the first printed Old English.

I'm told that the great Hugh Magennis has published a translation of the text in Metaphrastes, or, gained in translation: essays and translations in honour of Robert H. Jordan, Edited by Margaret Mullett and published by the Belfast Byzantine Texts and Translations series in 2004. I haven't seen it. Magennis also wrote an entry on it for the membership driven The Literary Encyclopedia that is online, but one can only read the first snippet for free. But from that, it appears to be mostly descriptive.

But that's all. There are no other articles or books on the Letter that I know of. There are many places, though not as many as one might think, where some aspect of the letter is discussed such as Paul Remley's Old English Biblical Verse or Hugh Magennis' Images of Community in Old English Verse. One curious reference is in Allen Frantzen's Before the Closet where Frantzen says that Sigeweard is a priest, which he wasn't. But these references usually have a paragraph or two to illustrate some point and move on. I should compile all these, but well, I have other projects to finish, including my editing!


Anonymous said...

Hi Larry,
Fwiw, EETS 330 (via subscription) arrived sometime last week in my box. I don't know how arrangements work vis-a-vis subscription vs public sale, but it's out.

theswain said...


That is good to know....someday I'll have a real job and be able to subscribe again. In the is it?

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