Archetypal narratives : toward a theological appreciation of early Celtic hagiography.

Krajewski, Elizabeth M. G. (2015) Archetypal narratives : toward a theological appreciation of early Celtic hagiography. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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This study aims to interpret Lives of Christian saints as examples of religious literature. Hagiography is commonly studied as an historical artefact indicative of the politics or linguistics of the time in which a text was composed, but few theorists have attempted to interpret its religious content. As these texts were composed within monastic environments I argue that the religious content may be illumined by a methodology which identifies an implicit theology of sanctity within the narrative. The biblical hermeneutic method proposed by Paul Ricoeur in the mid-twentieth century is applied to the earliest Lives of Samson, Cuthbert, and Brigit. These three date from the mid- to late-seventh century, a time of secular and ecclesiastical change, in some cases profound turmoil. Historical context for the composition of each text is presented; texts are analysed for biblical allusions and literary sources, and submitted to structural analysis. Motifs of religious and archetypal significance are derived from the work of theorists in folklore, anthropology, Bible, and the History of Religions. Each text is examined for motifs and patterns that disclose the structural framework used to organize the work. The structural analysis is then used to highlight central themes in the text. This interpretive process imagines a dynamic encounter between text and reader which combines historical inquiry with biblical hermeneutic, fulfilling Ricoeur’s expectation that the encounter would expand the reader’s horizon of meaning. Samson’s encounters with serpents and sorceress function as an initiatory pattern drawing monastics into a dynamic of spiritual growth. Cuthbert’s time on Farne Island includes echoes of the Desert Saints as well as the crucifixion of Christ and results in a brief but powerfully kenotic episcopal ministry. Brigit’s Kildare becomes the locus of the New Jerusalem, City of Refuge and Peaceable Kingdom

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Saints Religious literature Christian hagiography
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Users 10 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2016 10:51
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2023 13:49

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