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Abstract

Among a unique collection of stories in Hebrew manuscript copied in the sixteenth century and found at the National Library of Israel (NLI) are twenty-seven hagiographic tales about the prominent Jewish pietist of Medieval Germany, Rabbi Judah the Pious (d. 1217) and his father Rabbi Shmuel ben Kalonymus. Scholars have suggested that the entire original collection dates back to ca. 1300 and echoes the lives, concerns, and ideals of thirteenth-century Ashkenazi Jews. However, some of the hagiographic tales found in the collection seem to have been written later, appropriating the figure of the mystical Rabbi Judah and using it in stories from the fifteenth century that were set in his city, Regensburg. Told by the Jews of this city, the tales of Rabbi Judah and his magical abilities seem to have fulfilled the needs and concerns of the community in the turbulent late fifteenth century. The paper analyzes three of these stories, demonstrating how they correspond with the realities of this time and suggesting the possible roles the tales of Rabbi Judah and his miracles played for Regensburg Jewry as they contended with the hardships of daily life and the shadow of expulsion that loomed large over the community in this period.

In: Medieval Encounters

Abstract

What is a creature within a creature, with no consanguinity or kinship between them? Upon what place did the sunshine once, but then never again? These and host of other Judeo-ʿ⁠Alīd brain-teasers are adduced by the seventeenth-century Shiʿite encyclopedist Muḥammad Bāqir al-Majlisī in order to shore up the most pristine and essential of Shiʿite claims: that ʿ⁠Alī should have been the successor to the Prophet Muḥammad. The material examined in this essay sheds light both upon aspects of the Sunni-Shiʿī polemic and on Shiʿism’s outlook on the previous monotheistic dispensations. This article analyzes the series of interlocutions adduced by Majlisī (and his sources) as part of the campaign to retroactively unseat the caliphs enshrined by Sunnism. As with Islamic tradition in general, Shiʿism displays in this material a penchant for drafting the exponents of surrounding creeds to shore up its political and religious claims.

In: Medieval Encounters

Abstract

This study concerns a late medieval manuscript, the Ambraser Heldenbuch, created by Hans Ried for Emperor Maximilian I between 1504 and 1516. The recent facsimile edition makes it much easier to probe the critical question why this volume was not printed and what makes it stand out so much in the context of the early modern book market. The inclusion of the anonymous verse narrative Mauritius von Craûn (ca. 1220–1240) allows for more trenchant analyses concerning the patron and his interest in these literary works. The study takes into view the emperor’s strong concern with his afterlife, the paradoxical aspects determining that novella, and the contrast of this text copied here, very oddly, for the first time with the more popular literary works offered on the early modern book market. At a time when the printing press was increasingly conquering the book business, luxury bibliophile items continued to be produced as manuscripts. It might well be that the current book market finds a parallel in this phenomenon, with the electronic book pushing traditionally printed books aside. In fact, until today, we still resort to the manuscript in special cases, such as deeds, wills, licenses, and other documents.

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
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Abstract

The Old Norse-Icelandic literary corpus offers a rich and specific lexicon for spells, charms, magic, and other paranormal events. This article offers an etymological overview of the term atkvæði and a selection of textual occurrences in order to investigate the semantic possibilities of the term beyond the context of witchcraft. The founding hypothesis is that a careful look at atkvæði through various types of texts from different periods of time may highlight its origin in a pre-literate phase of the Old Norse-Icelandic culture where the boundaries between magic, poetry, and law-making were not as clear as the contemporary readers might reckon.

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik

Abstract

This article examines current practices of normalization of names in Norse philology and computational linguistics that to a large extent build on deductive reasoning and external authoritative sources such as grammars, dictionaries and gazetteers. Instead, a survey of manuscript evidence and quantification of name forms at several levels of abstraction is proposed as an alternative inductive principle of normalization. A case study of name-form distributions in a dataset of 6,633 spatial attestations in East Norse literature from the Norse World resource serves as a point of departure for a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the approach. The comparison between attestations linked to the five most frequent place-names in Old Swedish and Old Danish shows the existence of typical spellings. However, there are still examples of norm negotiations and competitive distributions. Thus, the first inductive step of normalization can be complemented by further processing based on correspondences between phonology and spelling. Finally, stratified normalization of place-names pioneered by Norse World is seen as more versatile compared to traditional methods; the approach has a potential to facilitate both more nuanced philological and linguistic research as well as the further development of named-entity recognition tools.

Open Access
In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik

Abstract

The origin of the word polder is contested. The older theories derive polder from Dutch pol (‘sod of grass, top, head, higher piece of land’, cognate with English poll(e) and Middle-Low-German pol(le)) or from Dutch poel (‘puddle, pond of still water’; cognate with German Pfuhl, English pool and Middle-Low German pōl(e)/pūl). In this article the author will review the etymological explanations and offer new support for a connection with poel. The original meaning of polder must have been ‘a land covered in puddles, wetland, marshy ground’.

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik