The Heliand and Christological Orthodoxy

Stephen Pelle

Abstract


Scholars of the ninth-century Old Saxon Heliand have often argued that the poem's author held or was influenced by various heretical positions on the nature of Christ. This essay attempts to counter these charges through an examination of three significant episodes in the Heliand: the Annunciation, Christ's Temptation in the Desert, and his Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Comparing these parts of the poem with biblical commentaries, Old English religious literature, and other medieval texts not only reveals that the Christological ideas in the Heliand were in line with Carolingian orthodoxy, but also suggests that the poet was concerned with refuting certain heretical ideas on Christ's nature that concerned his contemporaries.

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