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Durham e-Theses
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The time is now: the roles of apocalyptic thought in early Germanic literature

Kick, Donata (2006) The time is now: the roles of apocalyptic thought in early Germanic literature. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

This study investigates the different purposes for which apocalyptic thought was employed in early Germanic texts. The main focus lies on Anglo-Saxon sources. Both prose texts and poetry are taken into consideration, and cross-references to tenth-century material from the Continent are made wherever appropriate. The first three chapters provide an investigation of the ways in which Church authorities used apocalyptic material for purposes of instilling an urge to repentance and/or conversion in their audiences. Chapter 1 discusses patristic and Anglo-Saxon responses to the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 and finds a significant difference in the way the material was discussed by learned monastics and by populist preachers. Chapter 2 traces the Antichrist motif in Continental and Anglo-Saxon sources, with special regard to regional preferences in the treatment of the material. Chapter 3 broadens the view to consider Anglo-Saxon preaching in general. It discusses the different use of apocalyptic material by AElfric, Wulfstan, and the Blickling homilists, before approaching the prose and poetry found in the Vercelli Book and manuscript Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 201.Chapter 4 discusses material in Old Norse since sources relating to late tenth- and early eleventh century Scandinavia offer a unique opportunity to hear the voices of the laity at whom apocalyptic material was directed. The chapter starts with an overview of the conversion of Norway and Iceland by King Óláfr Tryggvason and his missionaries before moving on to discuss skaldic verse from the conversion phase. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the curious mixture of pagan and Christian themes in the Eddie poem Vqluspá. Previous studies on the Judgement Day motif show either a regional focus (e.g. Anglo-Saxon England), limit themselves to a specific genre of texts (e.g. Old English poetry), or focus on the act of Judgement itself and/or discuss descriptions of the tortures of Hell or the joys of Paradise. In contrast to these, the present study's comparative and interdisciplinary approach provides a more detailed picture of early medieval ideas about the end of the world, and responses to them by the laity.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2006
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:58

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