The Revelations of St Birgitta

A Study and Edition of the Birgittine-Norwegian Texts, Swedish National Archives, E 8902


In The Revelations of St Birgitta: A Study and Edition of the Birgittine-Norwegian Texts, Swedish National Archives, E 8902, Jonathan Adams offers a detailed analysis of the manuscript and its contents as well as a new edition of this puzzling text. The Birgittine-Norwegian texts are very distinctive from the main Birgittine vernacular corpus of literature and have taxed scholars for decades as to why and for whom they were written.

The linguistic study of the manuscript is combined with contextual and historical information in order to reinforce the arguments made and offer explanations within a cultural context. This provides a welcome new dimension to earlier research that has otherwise been pursued to a large degree within a single academic discipline.
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Biographical Note

Jonathan Adams, Ph.D. (2006), University College London, is Docent and Researcher for the Royal Swedish Academy in the Department of Scandinavian Languages, Uppsala University. He has published monographs and articles on East Norse philology and literature, including Displaced Texts (2008) and Lessons in Contempt (2013).

Review Quotes

“The edition … is diplomatic, with much explication in its parallel pages of textual and explanatory notes, and is of great value. … The work is extremely scholarly and well organized.”
Julia Bolton Holloway, University of Colorado, Boulder (emerita). In: The Medieval Review, 14 November 2016.

Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations

I Background

1 St Birgitta and her Revelations
1.1 Why St Birgitta?
1.2 The life of St Birgitta
1.3 The Revelations of St Birgitta (Latin tradition)
1.4 The Revelations of St Birgitta (Swedish tradition)
1.5 This book

2 Textual history of the vernacular Scandinavian manuscripts
2.1 Extant Swedish manuscripts
2.1.1 Swedish retranslation
2.2 Other Scandinavian manuscripts
2.2.1 Old Danish
2.2.2 Middle Norwegian
2.3 Summary

3 Birgitta and Norway
3.1 Towards Nordic union in the fourteenth century: Royalty and the nobility
3.2 Birgitta’s own personal contacts with Norway
3.3 Birgitta’s family connections with Norway
3.4 The Birgittine Movement in Norway and Munkeliv
3.5 Summary

4 Summary of previous research into the manuscript
4.1 Gustaf E. Klemming
4.2 Robert Geete
4.3 Knut B. Westman
4.4 Vilhelm Gödel
4.5 Salomon Kraft
4.6 Marius Sandvei
4.7 Didrik Arup Seip
4.8 Elias Gustaf Adolf Wessén
4.9 Lars Wollin
4. 10 Lennart Moberg
4.11 Hans Torben Gilkær
4.12 General evaluation of earlier theories

II Manuscript

5 Manuscript description
5.1 Date and origin
5.2 Provenance
5.3 Contents
5.4 Make-up and description
5.4.1 Foliation
5.4.2 Materials and dimensions
5.4.3 Quiring
5.4.4 Ruling and pricking
5.4.5 Catchwords
5.5 Script
5.5.1 Scribal characteristics
5.5.2 Abbreviations
5.5.3 Punctuation
5.5.4 Hyphenation and Word Division
5.5.5 Spacing
5.5.6 Rubrics and Guide Letters
5.5.7 Marginal Notes
5.6 Binding
5.7 Damage
5.8 Scribal error

III Language

6 Lexicon: idiosyncracies, foreign influence, and dialectal forms
6.1 Hapax Legomena
6.1.1 *drøvuker
6.1.2 *iakilse and *iatilse
6.1.3 *nidherflytilse
6.1.4 *solbadh
6.1.5 *spailse
6.1.6 *søkiarinna
6.1.7 *unsæld
6.1.8 *urfamse/orfamse
6.1.9 Distribution
6.1.10 Discussion
6.2 Middle Low German loanwords
6.2.1 Unbound Morphemes
6.2.2 Bound Morphemes
6.2.3 Summary
6.3 Latin words and phrases in E 8902
6.3.1 Adjectives and Common Nouns
6.3.2 Proper Nouns
6.4 Vadstenaspråk-like, Östgötska, and Danish features

7 Language mixture in medieval Scandinavian manuscripts
7.1 Causes of Swedish influence on Norwegian in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
7.1.1 Early definitions
7.1.2 The problem of defining “norm” in the context of Old Norwegian
7.1.3 Internal causes of mixture
7.1.4 External causes of mixture
7.1.5 A diglossic situation in late medieval Norway?
7.2. Intentional types of language mixture in medieval Scandinavian manuscripts
7.2.1 Terminology
7.2.2 Summary
7.3 Causes of unintentional language mixture (“interference”) in medieval Scandinavian manuscripts
7.3.1 Scribe’s own idiolect
7.3.2 Scribe’s own dialect
7.3.3 Dialect of the original
7.3.4 Dialect of the area
7.3.5 Norm of the genre
7.3.6 Norm of the scriptorium
7.3.7 Audience
7.3.8 Summary
7.4 Concluding remarks

8 Analysis of language mixture in E 8902
8.1 The use of statistics in literary research
8.2 The diagnostic test features for E 8902
8.2.1 Diagnostic test feature A: Progressive i-mutation
8.2.2 Diagnostic test feature B: Itacism
8.2.3 Diagnostic test feature C: Diphthongisation
8.2.4 Diagnostic test feature D: Monophthongisation
8.2.5 Diagnostic test feature E: Vowel merger
8.2.6 Diagnostic test feature F: Elision
8.2.7 Diagnostic test feature G: Dental assimilation
8.2.8 Diagnostic test feature H: First person singular pronoun
8.2.9 Diagnostic test feature I: Relative particle
8.2.10 Diagnostic test feature J: Anglo-Saxon letter forms
8.3 Statistical procedure
8.3.1 Total number of occurrences and proportion
8.3.2 Rate of occurrence
8.3.3 Ellegård’s distinctiveness ratio
8.3.4 Testing for significance
8.3.5 Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient
8.3.6 Summary
8.4 Language mixture
8.4.1 Findings of the statistical analysis of language mixture
8.5 Miscellaneous south-eastern Norwegian Forms
8.5.1 The intrusive svarabhakti vowel
8.5.2 Metaphony
8.5.3 Metathesis of “vr”
8.6 Summary of hand mixture types
8.6.1 Hand 1
8.6.2 Hand 2
8.6.3 Hand 3
8.6.4 Hand 4
8.7 Summary of linguistic analysis

9 Conclusion
9.1 Summary of aims, methods, and findings
9.2 Writing E 8902
9.2.1 Scribes
9.2.2 Language
9.2.3 Place of composition
9.2.4 The manuscript’s place in the Swedish tradition
9.3 Contents and audience

IV Edition

10 Text and commentary
10.1 Editorial procedure
10.2 Transcription

11 Commentary, references, and indexes
11.1 Commentary and references
11.2 Index of names and places (nomines et anonymorum) in E 8902



All interested in Scandinavian language history or medieval literature, and anyone concerned with the vernacular traditions of St Birgitta’s Revelations.