Nidrstigningar Saga: Sources, Transmission, and Theology of the Old Norse “Descent into Hell”
Published: January 2018© 2017
232 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 0.80 in, 3 figures
The Evangelium Nicodemi, or Gospel of Nicodemus, was the most widely circulated apocryphal writing in medieval Europe. It depicted the trial, Passion, and crucifixion of Christ as well as his Harrowing of Hell. During the twelfth-century renaissance, some exemplars of the Evangelium Nicodemi found their way to Iceland where its text was later translated into the vernacular and known as Niðrstigningar saga.
Dario Bullitta has embarked on a highly fascinating voyage that traces the routes of transmission of the Latin text to Iceland and continental Scandinavia. He argues that the saga is derived from a less popular twelfth-century French redaction of the Evangelium Nicodemi, and that it bears the exegetical and scriptural influences of twelfth-century Parisian scholars active at Saint Victor, Peter Comestor and Peter Lombard in particular. By placing Niðrstigningar saga within the greater theological and homiletical context of early thirteenth-century Iceland, Bullitta successfully adds to our knowledge of the early reception of Latin biblical and apocryphal literature in medieval Iceland and provides a new critical edition and translation of the vernacular text.
1 The Latin Evangelium Nicodemi in Medieval Europe
2 The Manuscript Tradition of Niðrstigningar saga
3 The Manuscript Filiation of Niðrstigningar saga
4 The Latin Source Text Underlying Niðrstigningar saga
5 The Textual Interpolations of Niðrstigningar saga
6 The Theological Context of Niðrstigningar saga
Niðrstigningar saga, which is one of the earliest texts preserved in Old Norse, has been scrutizined for many decades by scholars in the field. With his meticulous edition of this famous saga, his careful study of its manuscript transmission, his identification of its Latin sources, and his learned assessment of the work of the Norse translator, Dario Bullitta is likely to have produced not only a definitive edition but also provided the last word about this fascinating text.Kirsten Wolf, University of Wisconsin-Madison