On the Margins of Bible Translation: English Decalogues and their Circulation in the Thirteenth-Fourteenth Centuries
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Although large-scale Bible translations into English were not carried out between c. 1000 and the 1380s, Bible translation was still taking place on a daily basis both during public religious observances and during private devotional instruction. This article analyses a corpus of Middle English decalogue texts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and their relation to the source text of Exodus and Deuteronomy. The aims are to establish what Middle English texts of the Decalogue were in circulation and what shape they could take, what their Latin and vernacular sources were. The analysis reveals not only the expected influence of the Vulgate but also that of the auxiliary mnemonic texts and the contemporary theological thought. The vocabulary of the Decalogue and the gradual increase of the Romance element among the key terms in this text are examined next, compared to the general trends in the development of the Middle English lexicon and explained from a sociolinguistic and language-contact perspective.
keywordsMiddle English, Anglo-Norman, Latin, Decalogue, Bible translation.
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