Theological and doctrinal texts in the Old Frisian Thet Autentica Riocht

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Abstract

The Frisian literary corpus is composed mostly by legal texts. However, interspersed in the law manuscripts, various texts of different nature are occasionally attested, several of which are of religious content. Among them, worthy of consideration are a number of short pieces devoted to theological and biblical topics, such as those contained in the so-called Thet autentica Riocht (fifteenth century): the Seven Virtues of the Mass, the Seven Things that God hates, the Ten Signs in the Host, the Three Unforgivable Sins, as well as a piece devoted to the benefits of confession. These texts share features with the Five Keys to Wisdom, a brief didactic treatise preserved in the First and Second Hunsingo Manuscripts and stemming from the Collectanea by Sedulius Scotus, an Irish scholar.The proposed essay aims to analyze these items, through the study of their themes and structures, as well as of their possible sources and analogues. The research should also shed light on the connections between these documents and the legal compilations in which they are found. These texts, which are arranged according to a numerological pattern, find parallels in other literary traditions of the Middle Ages (both in Latin and the vernacular); for instance, the Collectanea Pseudo-Bedae – a compilation of unknown origin made from Irish, English and Continental materials not later than c. 820 – includes also a version of the Keys to Wisdom and of the Seven Things that God hates. In this perspective, the study of these Old Frisian texts contributes to a better understanding of the peculiar position of Frisian culture in medieval Europe. Although part of the Frankish Empire, Frisians maintain their identity and traditions; nonetheless, Frisian literature – far away from being isolated – is involved in the net of literary topics and themes in circulation in medieval Europe, as these texts seem to suggest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-153
Number of pages18
JournalPHILOLOGIA FRISICA
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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