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Published: 27 August 1992

256 Pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

ISBN: 9780195073768

Bookseller Code (04)

The Heliand

The Saxon Gospel

Translated by G. Ronald Murphy, SJ

Over one thousand years ago, in mead halls and monasteries, the song of the Heliand was one of the delights of northern Europe. At last available in English prose, one of the oldest of the great Northern epics casts its spell anew. Its theme is not, as one might think, the mighty exploits of a hero in the mold of Beowulf, Siegfried, or Roland, but rather the life and deeds of Jesus, retold in an unexpectedly beautiful blending of the Germanic and the Christian. Bethlehem becomes a hill-fort, horses and horse-guards replace sheep and shepherds at the nativity, the prophets Simeon and Anna are soothsayers, and the twelve apostles are transformed into household warriors. Jesus himself both outfights his enemy and works powerful magic; he is the greatest of chieftains, the Chieftain of Mankind.
Greatly enriched by G. Ronald Murphy's introduction and notes, the Heliand sheds light on the early beginnings of Germanic literature and the origins of European civilization, including the violent conversion of the Saxon people during the northward expansion of Christianity. True to the generous spirit and poetic heart of the original, this peerless translation will enchant as well as instruct students of medieval literature, theology, comparative literature, and early German history.