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"Two Notes on the Old Icelandic Physiologus Manuscript"
James W. Marchand
Modern Language Notes, 91:3 (April), 1976, 501-505
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"AM 673a 4to, the Physiologus manuscript, is important, not only because it is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of Old Icelandic, but also because it indicates the kind of influence Iceland was undergoing in the formative years of its literary production, the mid-12th century. In fact, almost all of the earliest Icelandic manuscripts are devoted to Christian lore and 'science' of the type contained in the Physiologus and in the homilies, and it is not until the mid-13th century that we begin to get secular writings of the kind we have come to associate with Old Norse literature. ... The Physiologus manuscript offers several examples of Christian lore. I would propose replacing the division presently used by the following, based also on the types of text: 1. Physiologus A, five allegorical interpretations of animals; 2. Physiologus B, fifteen treatments of animals and their allegorical significance, the Physiologus proper; 3. four treatments of animals in the Bible; 4. a spiritual interpretation of the ship; 5. a spiritual interpretation of the rainbow. The first two of these have received exhaustive treatment, but the last three have scarcely been touched upon in the literature on the Old Icelandic Physiologus. ... The first of my notes merely points out a patristic commonplace which is the origin of a section of the Physiologus, whereas the second offers a discussion and a translation of a neglected piece of Christian lore." - author

Language: English


 
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