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When the heaven open up: Biblical and pseudo-Biblical stories in oral tradition

Ljiljana Marks ; Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku, Zagreb, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 131 Kb

str. 339-356

preuzimanja: 421



In Croatian medieval literature apocrypha are not a homogenous generic category and may rather be seen as a suprageneric group of texts which tell stories about biblical men and women and their deeds which are not portrayed in the biblical canon. Even though apocrypha are popular fictional works, the stories are always presented as nonfictional, establishing a firm connection with the Bible ‡ its contents, the Christian doctrine and its ethical message. Since they were written to be read out loud, their open structure allows for the author’s individual style, borrowing and combining motives, a free interpretation of the narrative sequence, narrative rhythm which draws on oral literature, and affects the recipients’ feelings by moving them emotionally while also entertaining them. The corpus of oral stories and legends (in both older and newer transcripts) demonstrates what happens when a “sacred text” completes its transition from a written to an oral form: texts reshape, the unimaginable is explained in familiar terms, the divine is supplemented with that which is human. But what this process of folklorization creates is a more or less a successful mixture of serious and comical, a fun, relaxing Bible which instructs but also entertains. While the morality of stories subsides, fantastic and fairytale elements multiply, original biblical stories are supplemented with apocrypha which introduce elements of legends, anecdotes and fairytales. Most of these texts belong to the genre of cosmogonical and etiological legends which establishes the firmest link between the past and the present; they speak the narrator’s language, they give names to things in the world, thus explaining it and adding to it additional meaning. By interpreting selected texts about the Genesis, the origin of man, the annunciation and the birth of Christ, the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt and other Christmas miracles, the paper demonstrates that the narrative corpus which thus forms is not a random medley or an intricate bundle of heterogeneous texts of different origin and age. All these stories, together with many other which could be assembled in a provisory Croatian Bible pauperum, represents an impressive document on how the Croatian people understood, interpreted, preserved and passed on a two-thousand-year old history of the Christian doctrine.

Ključne riječi

The Bible, pseudo-biblical stories, legends, apocrypha, oral literature, Croatia

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Podaci na drugim jezicima: hrvatski

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