The Medieval Gospel of Nicodemus :
texts, intertexts, and contexts in Western Europe
Author: Izydorczyk, Zbigniew S., 1956-
Topics: Gospel of Nicodemus
Publisher Tempe, Ariz. : Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies
Possible copyright status: Permission Granted to Digitize Item
Call number: 0866981985
Digitizing sponsor: University of Toronto
Book contributor: MRTS Online
Collection: IterProject; toronto
At least twice in its fifteen hundred years of history the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (GN) has been a victim of its own success. First, at the close of the Middle Ages, its popularity and prestige attracted the censure of church reformers striving to rid Christian religion of fancy and superstition. Then, half a millennium later, the daunting multiplicity of its medieval versions and manuscripts, extant in most European languages, discouraged comprehensive, crosslinguistic studies of its literary career in Western Europe. Although the past century has shed much light on individual vernacular strands of the apocryphon’s tradition, it has produced no broadly based overview of the GN in all its textual, literary, and linguistic forms. The only generally available survey of its Western vernacular translations, adaptations, and influence remains Richard Wülcker’s 1872 essay Das Evangelium Nicodemi in der abendländischen Literatur. Although it has served well generations of scholars, this essay is by now sadly out of date: its factual information is fragmentary, its bibliographical references are outdated and unreliable, and its treatment of various intertextual relationships rarely goes beyond the superficial. Based on second- and third-hand information, it often frustrates modern expectations of thoroughness and exactitude. That it continues to be used, however, demonstrates a clear need for a guide to the apocryphon’s textual forms, intertextual relationships, and contextual variety in Western Europe.
In response to that need, the present volume brings together a series of essays documenting and exploring the presence of the GN in Western literary traditions of the Middle Ages. The essays cover a vast territory, both thematically and linguistically, for networks of the apocryphon’s translations, adaptations, thematic borrowings, and allusions extended to most Romance, Germanic, and Celtic vernaculars. Accordingly, the medieval languages surveyed here include Latin, French, Catalan, Occitan, and Italian; English, High German, Dutch, Low German, and Norse; and Irish, Welsh, and Cornish.
The polyglot nature and vast scope of this undertaking have dictated its collaborative format. The essays collected here, all but two commissioned for this volume, have been written by scholars specializing in different linguistic and literary traditions. Some have been actively involved in the editing of medieval recensions of the apocryphon, others have pursued textual or critical issues arising from it, still others have been attracted to it through the study of works it inspired or influenced. This diversity of scholarly backgrounds and critical interests of the contributors accounts for the diversity of theoretical perspectives on and practical approaches to the apocryphon in the present volume. However, the substance and character of each essay are determined not solely by the author’s critical ideology but also, and perhaps more fundamentally, by the extent of the GN‘s presence in a particular linguistic tradition and the current state of scholarship on it.
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