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The Prose Translation of Psalms 1–50

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Chapter Summary

Among the works conventionally attributed to King Alfred, the Old English prose translation of the first fifty Psalms, commonly known as the Prose Psalms, stands out for several reasons: its use of the vernacular to translate a highly influential book of the Old Testament; its strategy of translation, which combines a paraphrase with an elaborate set of interpretative guidelines; and its attempt to convey the poetic qualities of the Psalms with appropriate stylistic expression. Yet for all its exceptional interest, the Prose Psalms occupies an ill-defined status within the Alfredian canon, one more conducive to benign neglect than critical study. Admittedly, the work suffers from structural defects: it lacks a preface such as one finds introducing the other works attributed to Alfred, Pastoral Care, Consolation, Soliloquies and the Introduction to the Laws; and it is severely incomplete, containing only the first 50 of the 150 Psalms that constitute the Psalter.

Keywords: King Alfred; Old Testament; Pastoral Care; Prose Psalms; Psalter



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