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Reading the Bible Lessons at Home: Holy Writ and Lay Readers in the Low Countries

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This contribution deals with the late medieval use and users of Middle Dutch Bible manuscripts. After evaluating some paradigmatic views that have been dominating the research field of Middle Dutch Bible translations in the last century, a short typology of Bible manuscripts is given. During the last century, much attention has been given to the authors and the production of Middle Dutch Bible translations. Consequently, the authors’ intentions and the production contexts have directed researchers in the process of drawing up a typology. Approaching these translations from their users’ perspective, in this article the layout and paratextual elements of the manuscripts form the basis of a typology. It is argued here that the main function of Middle Dutch Bibles was the daily ‘paraliturgical’ reading of Bible lessons. This preference for paraliturgical reading continued to be apparent in the first printed editions of Middle Dutch Bible translations. A second trend visible in Bible manuscripts is the preference for the New Testament, especially the Passion narrative.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen


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