"The most exalted language" : Anglo-Saxon perceptions of Hebrew /
by Damian Joseph Fleming.
280 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2006.
general note
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 67-07, Section: A, page: 2570.
My thesis examines knowledge and awareness of the Hebrew language in the Anglo-Saxon period. Because there is minimal evidence of Jews in England or the study of the Hebrew language in this time period, the interest in Hebrew exhibited in Anglo-Saxon writings has rarely been noted before. The Anglo-Saxons were keenly interested in Hebrew, the original language of the majority of the Bible.My thesis begins by outlining how Anglo-Saxons gained information about Hebrew from the writings of Jerome. Bede was a particularly devout scholar of Jerome and uses his information about Hebrew for scriptural exegesis. I additionally survey the availability of Hebrew words in Anglo-Saxon glossarial works.In Chapter 3, I trace the use of Hebrew etymologies found in the homiletic material of Bede and AElfric. In addition to their rhetorical and exegetical value, Hebrew etymologies had an effect on the Old English language itself, allowing for the development of loan translations based on the Hebrew meanings of words. The most important of these loan translations is the ubiquitous Old English word for Jesus, haelend I trace the use and significance of loan translations such as this in the writings of AElfric.In Chapter 2, I provide descriptions and analysis of manuscripts from Anglo-Saxon England which contain Hebrew alphabets. These little-studied alphabets provide evidence that the Hebrew language seemed much more accessible to the Anglo-Saxons than modern scholars assume.In conclusion, I briefly reconsider the suggestion made in recent scholarship that anti-Jewish themes can be detected in Old English literature and argue that such studies should take into consideration the profound respect the Anglo-Saxons exhibit for the language and culture of the ancient Jewish people.In Chapter 4, I examine the influence of Hebraic syntax---as transmitted through the Latin of the Vulgate---on Old English. I consider the use of phrases of the type "King of Kings" in vernacular literature, arguing that Cynewulf was aware of the Hebraic origin of phrases of this type and uses them in his poem Elene to distinguish the language of the Jewish characters from that of the Christian characters.
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