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The Virgin Mary Between Ecclesia and Synagoga:
Typology, Sin and Anti-Judaism in Medieval English Literature, c. 1200-1500

DOHERTY, ELIZABETH,HOPE (2022) The Virgin Mary Between Ecclesia and Synagoga:
Typology, Sin and Anti-Judaism in Medieval English Literature, c. 1200-1500.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 14 October 2025.


In this thesis I demonstrate the involvement of Synagoga, the figure of Jewish faith and community in the Christian imagination, in writing about the Virgin Mary in Middle English. I discuss texts that bolster Mary’s authority, such as miracle tales and retellings of the destruction of Jerusalem, as well as those that portray Mary as vulnerable. My first chapter discusses the well-known legend of Theophilus, but in three understudied yet sophisticated versions: I discuss their diverse treatments of Marian authority and the way in which Theophilus occupies the role of Synagoga. My second chapter argues for the portrayal of Mary as a Jew in the midst of conversion to Christianity at the foot of the Cross, examining a range of examples from Middle English poetry and drama, and Latin liturgies from England and Europe. My third chapter investigates a contrasting Marian tradition in the translation and adaptation of texts that describe the siege of Jerusalem; I focus on portrayals of the mother, Maria, who cannibalises her own child, as a Christian fantasy of extinguishing Jewish motherhood. My final chapter applies these findings of a more conflicted Marian tradition that incorporates the stigmatised emotions of Synagoga and the aspiration of Ecclesia to Sir Gowther and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which both use sexual violence as a mode of communicating with Mary in disparate ways, in order to demonstrate the presence of these emotional worlds in theological romance texts. Throughout the thesis I suggest that Synagoga and Ecclesia can be usefully thought of as emotional categories that can unsettle or reposition penitents in salvation history; Jewishness is thought of as a pre-Christian past, towards which Christian sinners may be figuratively transported.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Oct 2022 14:52

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