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THE PLEDGE OF THE SOUL: A JUDGMENT THEME IN OLD ENGLISH HOMILETIC LITERATURE AND CYNEWULF'S "ELENE"

Charles D. Wright
Neuphilologische Mitteilungen
Vol. 91, No. 1 (1990), pp. 23-30
Published by: Modern Language Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43345776
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
THE PLEDGE OF THE SOUL: A JUDGMENT THEME IN OLD ENGLISH HOMILETIC LITERATURE AND CYNEWULF'S "ELENE"
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Abstract

An old English Rogationtide homily records a dramatic dialogue between Christ and Man at the Last Judgment, in which Christ demands a "pledge" (wed) for man's thoughts, words, and deeds. A close Latin parallel occurs in a collection of homilies edited by De Bruyne, which many scholars have considered to be of Irish origin. The basic idea that the soul (or the soul and the body) will be required as a pledge or recompense for man's deeds is encountered in several other Old English homilies. In the Judgment passage in the Epilogue of Elene, Cynewulf similarly warns that man will be required to give a pledge at Judgment, though he does not specify what pledge will be required. In Elene the Judgment theme is not elaborated in dialogue form as in the Rogationtide homily, but it does recall the Rogationtide homily's formulation of the theme and its Latin analogue in its use of the term wed (Latin arra) and the "thought, word, and deed" triad.

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