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The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195073768
ISBN-10: 0195073762
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of my own teachers, Father Murphy gives us a look at how the Gospel was spread into Central Europe. What he shows us is a different kind of warrior epic, and a look at how civilization began in a savage place."--Tom Clancy

"The specialists will appreciate Murphy's fine and very readable version, in view of the difficulties he had to overcome in creating an adequate modern text that can be used in the classroom. Students will value it as an exciting text for the modern interest in crosscultural studies."--Theological Studies

"A great translation. I recommend it highly."--S.L. Clark, Rice University

"An excellent translation which captures the spirit of the times and the people who listened to this unique blend of the traditional gospel message with the trappings of the heroic sagas which formed the other part of their literature. The text is readable and understandable and yet representative of the original. The notes on the translation were invaluable as is the material in the appendices."--Charles W. Nelson, Michigan Technological University

"Very useful for demonstrating the pagan and heroic influence on religious work."--G.N. Berqquist, Creighton University

"Fascinating addition to medieval literature in translation. Notes and introduction very helpful in considering cultural influences on translation of the Gospel into Saxon. The English version itself is clear, yet captures the Saxon style well."--Elizabeth L. Rambo, Biola University

"A valuable resource for the history of Christian piety and for the study of how Christianity was affected by transplantation to Northern Europe. Having such works available in translation is a real boon to teaching and to scholarship."--Richard Kieckhefer, Northwestern University

"Richly annotated. A provocative companion for students working with the original text."--Ray Wakefield, University of Minnesota

"A vivid retelling of the Gospel story from an early Saxon perspective. Ideal reading as a component of a culture and civilization course in translation....Also for the general reader who is interested in Germanic history of the dissemination of Christianity."--David J. Parent, Illinois State University

"An interesting and remarkable text, full of possibilities for defining epic machinery, and a welcome addition to the Old English canon."--R.E. Stratton, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 27, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195073762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195073768
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.7 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My husband is an artist and to check his painting, he looks at it in a mirror because he can see problems that are invisible when you look at it the regular way. I found the Heliand to be like that.

My original aim was to see how distorted the message was to the Saxons. It is distorted, but I found it to be extremely powerful for that very reason. It makes you think. When Mary wraps the infant in clothes and precious jewels, it makes you stop short. It couldn't have been like that. But it should have been; Jesus was that precious. I loved the poetic images like the meadows of heaven. And there is great joy and feeling in the telling that are pretty well missing from the traditional gospels. This is a story told by a master storyteller.

We are almost as far removed from the warrior society of the Saxons as we are from the even more distant world of Jesus. Reading the story transposed from one culture to another makes you look at the changes and think about what is important and what is just details. Like looking at your painting through a mirror.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book. As an Saxon history buff, this book opened a wonderful new portal into their lives and cultures. The author's notes are not intrusive, in the way that some academic footnotes can be. They enlighten and enliven the text. The translation is clean, clear, whimsical and readable.

Highly recommended for historical reference, as well as for church groups or bible study. I plan to use it with my high school classes.

Well done, Father Murphy!
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This book is great. It's going to be my 2nd time reading through it. I felt some new emotions while reading this 9th Century reimagining of the gospel story. I kind of chuckled for a minute when I read that the woman who asks Peter if he knew Jesus after he was arrested ... is described as unattractive. Another great part that is different and that I really enjoyed was when Peter cuts off the ear of one of the soldiers sent to arrest Jesus. It was described as a full force strike to the side of the head -- leaving a mortal wound. Before the attack, Peter's emotion of being enraged is also described well.
So as other reviewers have said, it is a poetic work aimed at conveying the gospel message to a warrior culture. There's also a theme of being without doubt in Jesus as "Chieftain." The scenes with John the Baptist are also great. Like I said, I felt new emotions for this familiar story. The important messages are clearly conveyed however, so the added stuff is kind of seen with the understanding that it was meant to add the extra pazazz -- much like how they do in the movies. And it's a great read that I recommend to all. 5 stars.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Father Murphy's translation of a complicated work is superlative. Before I say anything else I must say that his presentation of the Christian Gospel outreach to the Saxons is easy to read, with useful footnotes, and a natural flowing translation. Father Murphy treats this effort of Christian evangelism with a great deal of love.

(I have collegiate level training in history, linguistics, and English so I should probably throw a little bit more detail into my review)
The Heliand is the first major attempt to reach the 9th century Germanic Saxons in their own cultural terms. Father Murphy had quite the challenge: to incorporate meanings from the popular Latin harmony of the Gospels paraphrased into Old Saxon culture and language while then translating both of those items into contemporary American English. As a history nerd, a linguist, and a church history student, I was so impressed by Murphy's work that I had to thank him personally.
Hardcore medievalists may take issue with various minutia of Murphy's choices, but I think we history nerds tend to fall in love with our first impressions and translations of ancient works. Murphy's translation is to be commended for communicating feeling behind word choice in several places when a more wooden transliteration could have sufficed. For non-linguists, that means that Murphy's translation is going to be more emotionally real and present than more technically-obsessed authors.
I highly recommend it for any undergraduate student or layman.
Anyone who would nitpick this work is probably at the level of reading it in the original anyway, and should go do that. I have seen more mechanical translations of the work, but it takes a good German scholar and a clergyman both to really present the heart of the material.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting, well written and annotated. I am very glad that I purchased this book and will share it with friend and family.
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Extremely interesting and it is a fun to see how the Saxon's portrayed people in their version of the Gospel.
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