Author: Eyal Poleg

The introduction of a vernacular Bible changed biblical discourse in late medieval England. This book seeks to explore the mundane uses of the Bible and the daily contact with the divine in four instances: liturgical spectacles, talismanic uses, the layout of biblical manuscripts, and sermons. These instances weave a single narrative, which moves between antiquity and change, performance and material culture. Liturgical rites are explored for their texts, as for their use of sacred books, and innovative biblical manuscripts were tied with medieval sermons, the obverse of liturgical rites. The book begins with Palm Sunday, an important liturgical celebration, which provided an opportunity for many to integrate joy and participation into the biblical narrative. Then, it examines the Bible in liturgical spectacles, but in another manifestation. Not only text and narrative, Bibles were also sacred objects, employed in Masses and oath rituals. Innovative forms of biblical manuscripts, however, emerged at the beginning of the thirteenth century. These mass-produced Bibles are examined for their carefully structured array of ink and scripts, rubrics and addenda, for their specific means of engaging with the biblical text. They were utilitarian objects, employed by trained professionals. The book finds a prime audience of these manuscripts among late medieval preachers. Three Advent Sunday sermons demonstrate how the format of biblical manuscripts corresponded to the rise of the new form of preaching. It demonstrates how a new facet of the Bible unfolded in these elaborate sermons to engage with biblical words and texts.

This collection of essays offers new perspectives that foster our understanding of the crucial role the Bible played in medieval culture as well as in the wake of the Reformation across Europe. The thirteen essays open up new horizons for the study of biblical drama by putting special emphasis on periodisation, the intersections of biblical narrative and performance, and the strategies employed by playwrights to rework and adapt the biblical source material. Special emphasis is placed on multitemporality, transnationality, and the modalities of performance and form in relation to the uses of the Bible in medieval and early modern drama. The three aspects are intertwined: particular modalities of performance evolve, adapt and are re-created as they intersect with different historical times and circumstances. These intersections pertain to aspects such as dramatic traditions, confessional and religious rites, dogmas and debates, conceptualisations of performance and form, and audience response – whenever the Bible is evoked for performative purposes. The collection thus stresses the co-presence of biblical and contemporary concerns in the periods under discussion, conceiving of biblical drama as a central participant in the dynamic struggle to both interpret and translate the Bible.

Textus and oath-books
Eyal Poleg

Introduction: Bibles on the fringe The previous chapter followed the Bible as it was chanted and re-enacted by churchyard crosses and city gates. Liturgical texts endowed biblical narratives with a new meaning, while emulating the Bible in word and genre. In the course of the procession, however, another facet of the medieval Bible was put into play. Among the array of liturgical paraphernalia carried by the secondary procession in imitation of Christ and his entourage was a Gospel book. This book, much like the

in Approaching the Bible in medieval England
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Three Advent Sunday sermons
Eyal Poleg

Introduction Christian preaching is rooted in the Bible itself. Medieval preachers emulated the Prophets in their moral admonitions and followed Christ’s commandment to the Apostles: ‘Go ye into all the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16:15, an injunction celebrated expressly by members of the mendicant orders). Luke’s description of Christ’s own preaching (4:16–30) reverberated throughout the Middle Ages: it narrates Christ’s entry into a synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath, and his reading from the Book of Isaiah; Christ then

in Approaching the Bible in medieval England
Palm Sunday processions
Eyal Poleg

:1–9) The Gospel of Matthew was read during the Palm Sunday procession and served as the rationale for the day’s liturgy. A comparison between the biblical narrative (with parallels in Mk 11:1–11; Lk 19:28–38; Jn 12:12–16) and its liturgical re-enactment, however, may result in a few raised eyebrows. If ‘The liturgy was the primary context within which medieval Christians heard, read and understood the Bible’, 1 then why are many of the liturgy’s crowning moments nowhere to be found or marginalised in the biblical narrative; where are elements that defined the day in

in Approaching the Bible in medieval England
New heart and new spirit
Editor: Wickham Clayton

The extreme profitability of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ in 2004 came as a great surprise to the Hollywood establishment, particularly considering its failure to find production funding through a major studio. Since then the biblical epic, long thought dead in terms of widespread marketability, has become a viable product. These screen texts, primarily film and television features adapting stories from both the Old and New Testaments, have seen production both inside and outside of Hollywood. Seeking both profits and critical acclaim, as well as providing outlets for auteurist ‘passion projects’ such as Gibson’s film, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014) and Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), these texts both follow previous biblical epic traditions, as well as appear distinct stylistically and thematically from the biblical epic in its prime. With 2018 seeing the highly publicised release of Mary Magdalene, an attempt at a feminist take on this controversial figure, as well as Gibson’s announcement that he is in production on a follow-up to The Passion of the Christ, there is no clear evidence that the steady production of biblical media will abate anytime soon. Therefore, academic consideration of the modern biblical epic is both timely and highly relevant. With contributions from scholars such as Mikel J. Koven, Andrew B. R. Elliott and Martin Stollery, and a preface from Adele Reinhartz, this collection aims to be a starting point for initiating this discourse.

Eyal Poleg

Introduction The textus and oath-books of the previous chapter conveyed in their physicality a particular view of the Bible. Medieval records and surviving manuscripts attest to the great effort invested in lavish and iconic binding, even at the expense of the biblical text. The use of these books and their sacrality relied on a backward glance: the glorified past of Chaucer’s ‘Britoun book’, the ‘time beyond memory’ of the Chester ‘Jurybook’, or the antiquity of the oath-books of the archbishop of York (as

in Approaching the Bible in medieval England
Vivienne Westbrook

In 1611 the King James Bible was printed with minimal annotations, as requested by King James. It was another of his attempts at political and religious reconciliation. Smaller, more affordable, versions quickly followed that competed with the highly popular and copiously annotated Bibles based on the 1560 Geneva version by the Marian exiles. By the nineteenth century the King James Bible had become very popular and innumerable editions were published, often with emendations, long prefaces, illustrations and, most importantly, copious annotations. Annotated King James Bibles appeared to offer the best of both the Reformation Geneva and King James Bible in a Victorian context, but they also reignited old controversies about the use and abuse of paratext. Amid the numerous competing versions stood a group of Victorian scholars, theologians and translators, who understood the need to reclaim the King James Bible through its Reformation heritage; they monumentalized it.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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R. N. Swanson

Because the Bible was so fundamental, it is appropriate to begin with an extract from it. Whereas the rest of this volume consists of translations, here I have deliberately retained the original languages, and provided a modern translation. All three passages contain the second chapter of the Epistle of St James, which provides a neat

in Catholic England
A study in language politics
Heather J. Sharkey

In 1804, a group of British Protestant men founded the British and Foreign Bible Society, or BFBS, in London. Initially inspired by a girl named Mary Jones, who had allegedly crossed mountains to find a Welsh Bible, they insisted that individuals should be able to acquire Bibles and understand them. ‘If for Wales,’ they continued by asking, ‘why not for the kingdom? Why not for the world?’  1 Eager to expand access to Bibles in Britain and beyond, the BFBS went on to sponsor translations of

in Chosen peoples