Poetry and Exegesis in Premodern Latin Christianity

The Encounter between Classical and Christian Strategies of Interpretation


This volume investigates various exegetical possibilities in Christian Latin poetry during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the Latin West poetry was mainly associated with the powerful pagan tradition of writers like Vergil and Ovid, and by many poetry was considered to tell lies and provide mere entertainment potentially corrupting the soul. Therefore, Christians initially had reservations about this genre and believed it to be incompatible with Christian worship, literacy and intellectual activity. In practice, however, forms of specifically Christian poetry developed from the end of the third century onwards; theoretical reconciliations were developed around 400 A.D. This collection examines specimens of Christian poetry from Juvencus (the first biblical epicist shortly after 300) up to the thirteenth century. Its particular usefulness lies in the combination of literary theory and hermeneutics, close readings of the texts and new readings on a sound philological basis.
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Biographical Note

Willemien Otten, Ph.D. (1989) on The Anthropology of Johannes Scottus Eriugena, is professor of the History of Christianity and Dean of Theology at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Her publications focus on early Christian and medieval theology and intellectual culture. Among her recent publications are From Paradise to Paradigm. A Study of Twelfth-Century Humanism (Leiden 2004) and, co-edited with J. Frishman and G. Rouwhorst, Religious Identity and the Problem of Historical Foundation. The Foundational Character of Authoritative Sources in the History of Christianity and Judaism (Leiden 2004).
Karla Pollmann, Ph.D. (1990) on the Carmen adversus Marcionitas, Habilitation (1994) on Augustine’s De doctrina christiana, is professor of Classics at St Andrews University, Scotland. Among her most recent publications are Statius, Thebaid 12. Introduction, Text, and Commentary (Paderborn 2004) and, co-edited with M. Vessey, Augustine and the Disciplines (Oxford 2005). Currently, she is directing an international and interdisciplinary five-year project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, on the reception of Augustine from 430 to 2000 (www.st-and.ac.uk/classics/after-augustine), in which Otten acts as a principal collaborator.

Table of contents

H. Westra, Augustine and Poetic Exegesis
M. Vessey, Quid facit cum Horatio Hieronymus? Christian Latin Poetry and Scriptural Poetics
M.B. Pranger, Time and the Integrity of Poetry. Ambrose and Augustine
R. P.H. Green, The Evangeliorum Libri of Juvencus: Exegesis by Stealth
J. den Boeft, Cantatur ad delectationem. Ambrose’s lyric poetry
J. Clarke, Technological Innovation and Poetical Exegesis: The Glass Lamp in Prudentius’ Cathemerinon 5
R. Chiappiniello, The Carmen ad uxorem and the genre of the epithalamium
M. Hoffmann, Principles of Structure and Unity in Latin Biblical Epic
A. Arweiler, Interpreting cultural change: Semiotics and exegesis in Dracontius’ De laudibus Dei
Ch.O. Tommasi, Exegesis by Distorting Pagan Myths in Corippus’ Epic Poetry
M. Herren, Reflections on the Meaning of the Ecloga Theoduli: Where is the Authorial Voice?
K. Smolak, Epic Poetry as Exegesis: ‘The Song of the Good War’ (Eupolemius)
W. Otten, The Poetology of Biblical Tragedy in Abelard’s Planctus
A.A.R. Bastiaensen, Biblical Poetry in Latin Liturgical Texts
H. Müller, The Saint as Preacher. Remarks on a Rare Motif in Late Antique and Medieval Poetry
K. Pollmann, Poetry and Suffering: Metrical Paraphrases of Eucherius of Lyons’ Passio Acaunensium Martyrum
G. Dinkova-Bruun, Biblical Versifications from Late Antiquity to the Middle of the Thirteenth Century: History or Allegory?


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