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"Beasts and Baptism: a New Perspective on the Old English Physiologus"
Andrea Rossi-Reder
Neophilologus: An International Journal of Modern and Mediaeval Language and Literature, 83:3, 1999, 461-477

Argues that the version of Physiologus contained in the Exeter Book is not a fragment, as previously thought, but a complete work; it is shown to be structured along the lines of an Easter poem, focusing on baptism and preparation for judgement. Also argues that the poem in language and structure resembles a homily, and mimics the Easter liturgy.

"Previous scholarship on the Old English Physiologus has not only mistakenly tended to consider the work as a fragment, but has also failed to acknowledge that this Anglo-Saxon bestiary contains a theme unique to the Physiologus tradition. The Old English Physiologus, complete despite its mere three animal entries, is an Easter poem, honoring within the scope of its three animal accounts the three days of Christ's death, harrowing of hell, and resurrection. Moreover, central to the poem's theme is the celebration of baptism - the central rite of the Easter weekend - as the means to attaining heaven on the final Easter, Judgment Day. The Old English Physiologus is a didactic and celebratory poem that urges Christians to prepare for Easter and Judgment Day through the renewal of vows during Lent and through baptismal vows or even baptism itself on Holy Saturday."

Language: English

ISSN: 0028-2677
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