The present work is a translation of the medieval Anglo-Norman Gospel Harmony, recently edited, also by Brent A. Pitts, under the name Estoire de l’Evangile (Oxford: Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, 2011). The text, which attempts to unify the four Gospels into a single narrative, is extant in a single manuscript: Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral, MS C6.1.1, Liber Niger. The Introduction to the translation begins by outlining the great significance of the text as the sole extant medieval French witness to the Gospel Harmony, or diatessaron, tradition, and a textual comparison of key passages with the Middle English Pepysian Gospel Harmony follows the translation (The Pepysian Harmony, ed. by Margery Goates (London: Early English Text Society, 1922)). Those unfamiliar with the tradition will find a list of suggested further reading. Both the author and the date of composition of the Gospel Harmony are unknown, although Pitts shows convincingly that the text had a likely completion date around the mid-thirteenth century. Pitts provides compelling evidence that the author of the work may have been Thomas of Hales, an English Franciscan writer, outlining his theory with a comparison of the Gospel Harmony to one of Hales’s sermons (M. Dominica Legge, ‘The Anglo-Norman Sermon of Thomas of Hales’, Modern Language Review, 30 (1935), 212–18). The Introduction is completed with a brief analysis of some of the stylistic characteristics of the text (brevity, use of exempla, repetition); however, as the immediate source of the work is unknown (the text likely being a translation of an earlier harmony and not spontaneous creation), it is difficult to know if these elements can all be attributed to the author or to his model. The translation follows the edited text quite closely, although it is not necessary to read the two together, as the translation is in itself lively and readable. While the line-numbering found in the edition is absent in the translation, this is no great detraction, because the identical chaptering facilitates navigation between the two works. Footnotes to the translation provide comparison to key texts in the diatessaronic tradition as well as references to parallel Gospel passages. There is no doubt that the translation will prove to be of particular interest to those who are familiar with this tradition, and will facilitate further study of the text, as both the translation and the edition provide valuable insights into this unique work.
The Anglo-Norman Gospel Harmony: A Translation of the ‘Estoire de l’Evangile’ (Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral C6.1.1, Liber Niger). By Brent A. Pitts
Heather Pagan; The Anglo-Norman Gospel Harmony: A Translation of the ‘Estoire de l’Evangile’ (Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral C6.1.1, Liber Niger). By Brent A. Pitts. Fr Stud 2017; 71 (1): 99-100. doi: 10.1093/fs/knw307
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