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5. Text Production and Authorship: Gertrude of Helfta’s Legatus divinae pietatis

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Chapter Summary

The corpus of works produced by the visionary nuns at Gertrude of Helfta illustrates the complexity of textual transmission and authorial identity in the high and late Middle Ages. By tracing the transmission of texts either in their entirety or in extracts and by documenting hitherto unknown manuscript witnesses to that transmission, this chapter demonstrates the extent of interconnected monastic networks and the impact of visionary texts from Helfta. The choice of extracts, their adaptation, and their integration into new contexts are crucial for understanding the processes of transmission and nature of authorship. For more than 500 years there has been consensus about the names to be associated with Helfta's revelatory literature, but not about the texts in this corpus. Volradi's anonymous colleague mentioned not just the Liber specialis gratiae and the Legatus divinae pietatis, but also the Lux divinitatis, the Latin translation of Mechthild of Magdeburg's Das fließende Licht der Gottheit.

Keywords: authorial identity; Gertrude of Helfta's Legatus divinae pietatis; late Middle Ages; textual transmission



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