Forgotten Preaching: A Latin Sermon on Saint Þorlákr in Uppsala UB C 301

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  • Astrid Marner
Embedded in the collection Themata sermonum by French Dominican Nicolas de Gorran, the manuscript Uppsala UB C 301 contains a Latin homily for the Icelandic National saint Þorlákr. The manuscript is from the fourteenth century and of Icelandic origin.

Contrary to the hitherto prevalent opinion that the sermon is a pure adaptation of a non-preserved model, the article points out stylistic features of the sermon. These make it clear that the sermon is not an original part of the collection within which it was handed over. Rather, in-depth analysis proves that the individual subthemes - preserved are three out of originally four - most likely follow different models. Neither of these templates is available today. However, the biblical quotes underlying the subthemes are closely linked in contemporary theological thinking, as becomes clear from a passage from another work by Nicolaus de Gorran, the commentary on the Pauline letters. A direct influence of the commentary on the sermon, however, can not be proved. The Þorlákr sermon is a typical representative of its genre in the creative combination of foreign parts. Similar working methods can be found in Sweden or Germany. At the same time the sermon is given a genuinely Icelandic profile through the choice of the saint. It most likely served to promote the worship of the saint, who had been firmly established in Iceland since the early thirteenth century. Narrative sources also demonstrate preaching activity in the style of the sermon on the feast days of the holy Þorlákr. They illustrate, for example, how a skeleton-like sermon was filled with life during oral presentation, for example through the interweaving of exempla or the translation into the mother tongue. Altogether, the Þorlákr sermon presents itself as the only possible survivor of the Icelandic sermon tradition, which is seamlessly connected to the rest of Europe.
In the appendix, the article provides a diplomatic and a normalized transcription as well as a translation of the sermon into English.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235–261
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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