THE BODY AND SOUL AS KINSMEN: AN EXPLANATION OF THE THEOLOGY OF THE ANGLO-SAXON BODY-SOUL THEME IN TERMS OF AN UNDERLYING ANGLO-SAXON SPIRITUALITY OF KINSHIP

MONA LYNN LOGARBO, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation presents a study of Old English body-soul literature with particular emphasis on the uniqueness of this literary theme in the Anglo-Saxon poetic and parenetic traditions in which body and soul are often described as kinsmen. Included in this analysis are pertinent poems and homilies in the Exeter, Blickling, and Vercelli manuscripts as well as certain passages in Beowulf which thematically develop the nature of the body-soul relationship. Since the pagan Germanic socio-cultural institution of kinship formed the basis for all relations in Anglo-Saxon England, an explication of this metaphor for the body-soul relationship allows a reconstruction of a primitive Anglo-Saxon spirituality based on their understanding of the body-soul relationship and salvation.^ The body-soul narrative tradition itself has its roots in ancient sources such as the Apocalypse of St. Paul (ca. fourth century) and found expression in numerous works in various vernacular languages during the Middle Ages, although the Old English material is earlier than any Continental exposition. A delineation of the development of the body-soul narrative from its pre-Christian sources to its integration with Christian motifs reveals the impress of Christian theology and doctrine on this ancient tradition. Drawing on Augustine's understanding of the body-soul relationship as the philosophical Christian perspective in the early Middle Ages, the dissertation then presents the influence of such thought on the orthodox, Christian Anglo-Saxon view synthesized from the works of Bede, particularly his Ecclesiastical History.^ An analysis of the appropriate Old English poems and homilies then sets in relief both the elements which these works share with the Christian tradition, and more important, the characteristics which make this expression uniquely Anglo-Saxon. The institution of kinship provided the vehicle for the development of the body-soul theme in the literature, for it provided a significant model for understanding the body-soul relationship. ^

Subject Area

Medieval literature

Recommended Citation

LOGARBO, MONA LYNN, "THE BODY AND SOUL AS KINSMEN: AN EXPLANATION OF THE THEOLOGY OF THE ANGLO-SAXON BODY-SOUL THEME IN TERMS OF AN UNDERLYING ANGLO-SAXON SPIRITUALITY OF KINSHIP" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615719.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615719

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