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The Testimony of Martyr: A Word History of Martyr in Anglo-Saxon England

The Testimony of Martyr: A Word History of Martyr in Anglo-Saxon England <p>Abstract:</p><p>This article considers the phenomenon of Greek loan words appearing in Germanic languages—specifically the word <i>martyr</i> in Old English—tracking its appearances first in Classical Greek literature then through the New Testament as a crucial theological concept that underwent a drastic semantic evolution from “witness” to “someone who dies for his or her faith.” After scanning medieval sources that feature and highlight this word, such as Isidore’s <i>Etymologiae</i> and the <i>Old English Martyrology</i>, I examine Anglo-Saxon words whose definitions recall both the martyr of Classical Greece as well as the martyr of late-antiquity. I conclude by suggesting that <i>martyr</i>’s early, easy assimilation into and prominence in Old English writing demonstrates a subtle linguistic strategy by which Christianity came to power in England and much of Western Europe: loan words.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

The Testimony of Martyr: A Word History of Martyr in Anglo-Saxon England

Studies in Philology , Volume 115 (3) – Jun 29, 2018

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>This article considers the phenomenon of Greek loan words appearing in Germanic languages—specifically the word <i>martyr</i> in Old English—tracking its appearances first in Classical Greek literature then through the New Testament as a crucial theological concept that underwent a drastic semantic evolution from “witness” to “someone who dies for his or her faith.” After scanning medieval sources that feature and highlight this word, such as Isidore’s <i>Etymologiae</i> and the <i>Old English Martyrology</i>, I examine Anglo-Saxon words whose definitions recall both the martyr of Classical Greece as well as the martyr of late-antiquity. I conclude by suggesting that <i>martyr</i>’s early, easy assimilation into and prominence in Old English writing demonstrates a subtle linguistic strategy by which Christianity came to power in England and much of Western Europe: loan words.</p>

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 29, 2018

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