Kinship, Etymology, Inheritance, and Vernacular Voice in OE Genesis A

“Kinship, Etymology, Inheritance, and Vernacular Voice in OE Genesis A” at Kalamazoo 48th Medieval Congress
Joseph Leake, U of Connecticut
finishing MA and starting PhD

He was late to the session, came in after he was introduced.

biblical book of Genesis is about kinship
creation and maintenance of descendants
Aelfric wrote “book is called Genesis, because it is the first book and tells about each race/generation”
in Genesis A family relations, offspring, inheritances are telescoped
as a poem, language based strategies for conveying meaning
language and theme on etymological wordplay and literary linguistic feature

two-fold purpose:
how wordplay structure is used to highlight theme
examine language of play

examples of constructions outside Bible are on handout (but he had about 1/3 as he needed)

traditional body of texts on etymology
Jerome considered etymology in exegesis
Genesis 2:33 works fairly well as a wordplay in Hebrew and in Latin and in English…
Jerome is willing to stretch Latin virago to match with viro
Bede talks about parts of speech that work best in Hebrew, can work in Latin (or in English)

use of etymological verbal constructions occur across language, examples from Old Irish, Old Slavic, Isidore of Seville’s work

dialogue between vernacular and etymological Latin… imitates but finds its own way
process of adaptation/expansion

Genesis A uses wordplay that has no source in the Vulgate
etymological wordplay not centered around kinship, but features play on these kinship terms

whole study on wordplay that comes in Vulgate but adapted with different ideas

with wealth and with possessions is a wordplay instead of on death and dying
numerous instances of kinship terms which are not found in the Vulgate
jumble of kinship terms playing, draws together connections

importance to include but go beyond the Vulgate, it shows the way that adaptations are used for artistic purposes—in Genesis A, to focus on thematic emphasis

no text in AS England integrates OE into Latin works, however the patterns and etymologies in Genesis A, shows conscious and deliberate choices, showing relationship between learned culture and vernacular poetics

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