The Middle English Iacob and Iosep and the Medieval Popular Bible


Murdoch B (2017) The Middle English Iacob and Iosep and the Medieval Popular Bible. English Studies, 98 (8), pp. 846-865.

The neglected thirteenth-century English poem on the subject of Jacob and Joseph is striking for the addition, within the brief (and fragmentary) but lively narrative, of material that is not found in the Vulgate, and as such forms part of the popular vernacular tradition of the Bible. The text can be related to an Anglo-Norman or French narrative pattern represented in a number of (larger) biblical poems, though it is not as close to the Bible of Herman de Valenciennes as has been suggested. The relationship with the later EnglishCursor Mundiis also complex. Some of the extra-biblical elements are matched in iconography. In spite of the focus upon the much-retold romance of Joseph, the central figure is Jacob, something made clear at several points. The clearly didactic work (by a clerically trained poet or minstrel) may have been intended for a baronial audience as a warning against injustice.

English Studies: Volume 98, Issue 8

Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online25/10/2016
PublisherTaylor and Francis