Adam's Grace: Fall and Redemption in Medieval Literature by Brian Murdoch

By Brian Murdoch

The topic of Adam's Graceis the interaction of theology and literature throughout a variety of genres and vernaculars: particularly, using medieval literary texts to give an explanation for the stability of the autumn and Redemption, the universality of unique sin, and the identification of mankind with its first mom and dad, Adam and Eve. the method starts off with the Christian culture of apocryphal Adam-lives, which live to tell the tale and strengthen in lots of vernaculars. Later, Adam is used as a literary version, on whom many famous Christian figures of the center a long time - knights, popes, emperors, kings and saints - will be noticeable to be established. They contain Gregorius, the `medieval Oedipus', whose case demonstrates the solution of the anomaly of the felix culpa; Parzival, trying to find the Holy Grail and for God within the antagonistic global into which he has been ejected; and the numerous medieval figures (literary or even old) linked to the legends of leprosy, blood and therapeutic which replicate the sacrifice within the Redemption. The final a part of the ebook seems on the drama, to start with the medieval representations of the autumn and the eagerness, after which the quite varied portrayal of Adam on level within the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation.

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44 The Italian, German and Breton dramatisations of the story represent a final stage, but not only do they add a new dimension, they reach a larger audience. These are the longest-living of the vernacular versions, performances being recorded as late as in the nineteenth century. In English drama there are only isolated motifs, but there are continental versions of the penance on stage. Cornish drama, whilst not having the penance scene, does have the Sethite quest leading to the Holy Rood story; the same is true of other works, such as the English metrical Cursor Mundi, and there are reflections of the Holy Rood legends at the beginning of other chronicles, such as the German world-chronicle of Jans Enikel.

We have moved away from the Middle Ages, and hence further from theological assuredness. There are any number of Adam poems, and if in one sense St Paul was both reductive and backward-looking in Romans 5:12 in the idea that all had already sinned in Adam – provided we accept that reading – he could not have foreseen the interpretative diversity thereafter. To conclude with two quotations: in 1984 G. R. Evans commented, in his study of The Language and Logic of the Bible, that The most important effect [of the Fall] in the eyes of a number of early Christian writers, was the breakdown of communication between man and God .

27. 25 Montague Rhodes James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924, repr. 1975) has a convenient edition of this much-used text, which was widely known in most of the western European vernaculars. See now The Medieval Gospel of Nicodemus: Texts, Intertexts and Contexts in Western Europe, ed. Zbigniew Izydorczyk (Tempe, Arizona: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1997). 26 See as an early example of a full study of the material Adolfo Mussafia, ‘Sulla leggenda del legno della croce’, Sitzungsberichte der kaiserl.

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