Rendering the Word: vernacular accounts of the parables in late Medieval England Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Raschko, Mary
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This study examines Middle English translations of particularly ambiguous, yet culturally relevant biblical narratives: the parables of the Wedding Feast, the Laborers in the Vineyard, the Good Samaritan, and the Prodigal Son. Crossing conventional boundaries of genre and ideology, it features renditions of parables in a wide variety of contexts, ranging from the Wycliffite Bible to lives of Christ, homilies, and poetic literary works. To focus the diverse interpretations found in these materials, each chapter highlights one prominent Middle English poem or devotional work and discusses other vernacular accounts in relation to the more familiar text. Chapter one features the Parable of the Wedding Feast in Cleanness and emphasizes the difference between the poet's parabolic writing and moral exempla, while chapter two examines the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard in Pearl and shows how the explication therein differs dramatically from those in Middle English sermons. Chapter three places the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Langland's Piers Plowman in conversation with other Middle English, rather than Latin, interpretations of the story, and chapter four considers the characterization of penance in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in devotional works like Book to a Mother. Collectively, the four parables show the complex relationship between narrative and religious edification and provide evidence of dynamic engagement with vernacular scripture in late medieval England.
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  • In Copyright
  • Wittig, Joseph S.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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