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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Pét 13VII

[5-7]: Both Finnur Jónsson and Kock emend ms. ‘syn’ to synd to provide skothending with frænda. Finnur (Skj B) translates: sin synd tilstår han først for gud og forkyndte sin anger? ‘he first confesses his sin before God and proclaimed his repentance?’. Kock (NN §1719) instead takes the ll. to mean that John revealed the sin of Peter and Andrew (synd ... frænda gen. pl.) and proclaimed their repentance before God (accepting Finnur’s emendation in Skj B of guð [l. 7] to guði). Neither of these interpretations, however, is supported by either the gospels or Pétr and neither takes account of the word fingri (l. 5). (The two disciples of John mentioned in Pétr 2/12-13 are not ‘the kinsmen’ Andrew and Peter, but Andrew and annarr er eigi [er] nefndr ‘another [man], who is not named’; cf. John I.40.) The passage undoubtedly refers to John’s affirmation of the divinity of Christ at John I.29, 36; cf. Pétr 2/6-11: ꜳ einum degi, þa er sæll Johannes baptista stoð i þeim stað, er hann veitti monnum skirn i Jordan, sa hann varn herra Jesum Kristum koma til sin, ok mællti sva til hans: ‘See her lamb guðs þat er tekr syndir af heiminum’ ‘On a certain day, when the blessed John the Baptist stood in that place where he baptized men in the Jordan, he saw our Lord Jesus Christ come to him, and he spoke thus to him: “Behold here the Lamb of God, which takes away sins from the world.”’. That John did not merely proclaim the advent of Christ with words, but pointed him out ‘with his finger’ is a commonplace found, for instance in JBapt2A 927/1-2: syndi Jesum með eiginligum fingri ... þa er hann sagði: Se her lamb guðs ‘he revealed Jesus with his own finger ... when he said: Behold here the Lamb of God’, and Andr2A 354/24-5: drottin varn ... auðsyndi með sinum fingri ‘with his finger he revealed ... our Lord’. The detail appears in the hymn Antra deserti, attributed to Paul the Deacon, which was sung at Matins on the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist (AH 50, 120 §96, st. 7; DH 327-8 §86/2, st. iii): tu quidem mundi scelus auferentem indice prodis ‘with your forefinger you make known the one who takes away the sin of the world’. Cf. Ordo Nidr. 354/22. For further examples of the motif, see Ælfric, Catholic Homilies (Clemoes 1997, XXV.136-8, XXXVI.52-4; Godden 2000, 206 and 301).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. AH = Dreves, G. M., C. Blume and H. M. Bannister, eds. 1886-1922. Analecta hymnica medii aeui. 55 vols. Leipzig: Reisland. Rpt. 1961. New York: Johnson.
  5. Clemoes, Peter, ed. 1997. Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies. The First Series. Text. Early English Text Society, Supplementary Ser. 17. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  6. DH = Milfull, Inge B. 1996. The Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church: A study and edition of the ‘Durham Hymnal’. Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Godden, Malcolm. 2000. Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies. Introduction, Commentary and Glossary. Early English Text Society, Supplementary Ser. 18. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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