Session706
TitleSelves, Communities, Others: Borders and Boundaries in Early Medieval Religious Texts
Date/TimeTuesday 5 July 2022: 14.15-15.45
 
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
 
Moderator/ChairRachel A. Burns, Faculty of English Language & Literature, University of Oxford / School of English, University of St Andrews
 
Paper 706-a The Gospel of Matthew and God's Perfecti: The Boundaries of the Perfect Life in the Writings of the Venerable Bede
(Language: English)
Emily Quigley, Department of History, University of Nottingham
Index Terms: Ecclesiastical History; Monasticism; Religious Life; Theology
Paper 706-b Crossing Borders in the Old English Andreas
(Language: English)
Karin Olsen, Department of English Language & Culture, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - Old English
Paper 706-c All's Fair in Love and Law: Negotiating the Boundaries of Community and Religion in Cynewulf's Juliana
(Language: English)
Jennifer Coulton, Independent Scholar, Cambridge
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - Old English; Law
Paper 706-d Far, Strange, Foreign, and Other in Old English: Spatial and Cultural Boundaries
(Language: English)
Yekaterina Yakovenko,
Index Terms: Biblical Studies; Daily Life; Language and Literature - Old English
 
AbstractPaper -a:
In Matthew's Gospel, Christ offers advice on how to behave 'if you want to be perfect' (Matthew 19:21). Parallel accounts feature in Luke and Mark, but the wording of perfectus is unique to Matthew. This paper explores the immense impact of Matthew's Gospel on Bede's understanding of what it meant to be a 'perfect' Christian. Matthew's account was crucial in shaping the boundaries of Bede's perfecti. It will be considered how Bede's perfecti differed from ordinary believers who simply followed the commandments, but also the interplay between these two groups in Bede's vision of his Christian society. It will be argued that Bede associated Matthew's perfecti with apostolic and contemporary models for monastic emulation.

Paper -b:
Borders play a prominent role in the Old English Andreas. When travelling to Mermedonia in his effort to rescue St Matthew from its cannibalistic inhabitants, St Andrew crosses the border between the familiar and the strange; at his destination he eventually succeeds in appropriating the latter with his conversion of the foreigners. However, such global assessment does not do justice to the complexity of Andrew's actions that require permeable boundaries within the saint's self, on the one hand, and between his self and the Mermedonians, on the other. My paper will explore these boundaries, shedding further light on the notions of self and other in the poem.

Paper -c:
The titular protagonist of Cynewulf's Juliana occupies a liminal space: as a disowned daughter, and a Christian in a pagan society. While many critics have argued Cynewulf changed his Latin source, most focus on how typological allusions enhance a battle between spiritual good and earthly evil. The changes to the 'earthly' society, however, has been little explored. By exploring these changes, particularly the betrothal episode, this paper demonstrates how Juliana uses the contested borders of different religions to explore what defines a community, and appropriates Germanic culture for the ends of the Church in order to present a definition meaningful to its audience.

Paper -d:
The semantics of 'far', 'strange', 'foreign', and 'other', rendered in Old English by a variety of nominal, adjectival, and pronominal means, presents a complicated system of oppositions in which spatial features of objects are interrelated with those of acquaintance, assimilation, (un)acceptability, thus acquiring positive vs negative evaluation. Boundaries between one's and other's (familiar and unexplored, etc.) are not clearly cut, and an insight into secular texts containing travel accounts (Old English Orosius) and Bible translations (Ælfric's Pentateuch, Old English Gospels and psalms) allows us to reveal different ways of expressing social and cultural evaluation of close and distant objects.