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19. Prose of Christian Instruction

Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir

Subject Literature » Medieval Literature

Place Northern Europe » Scandinavia

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631235026.2004.00022.x


Er kykvende þat er heitir cervus. David mælir: Svá sem hiǫrtr girnesk til brunna, svá girnisk ǫnd mín til þín, Guð. En þá er hann drekkr ok kennir hǫggorm vera í munni sér, spýtir hann honum út ok trøðr hann undir fótum til bana. Svá sér dróttinn várr Jesus Christr djǫful, óvin várn, ok með brunni guðligrar spekðar rekr hann á braut hann frá hiǫrtum órum. ( Del Zotto Tozzoli 1992 : 104, with spelling normalized) [There is a beast called cervus. David says: My soul is drawn to you, God, like the stag which is drawn to the drinking well. And when it drinks and finds a venomous serpent in its mouth, it spits it out and tramples it to death underfoot. Thus our Lord, Jesus Christ, sees the devil, our enemy, and by drawing on the well of divine wisdom, drives him away from our hearts.] The elementary education of a Christian individual may be seen as a prolonged conversion, a striving to draw the soul towards God, away from Satan. Medieval preachers and exegetes found it crucial in this endeavour to be able to show how the will of God was at work everywhere, how all things created bore witness to their maker. From the study of nature, of things visible, people could proceed to some understanding of things invisible; external nature came to symbolize the ineffable truths of divine grace and human redemption. Similarly, individuals became examples or embodiments of virtues and vices. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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