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Exegesis” is a technical term for “interpretation,” chiefly reserved for the daunting business of interpreting texts of authority. Medieval “exegetes” (i.e., commentators) adjudicated the meanings and teachings of the Bible and wielded colossal cultural power and influence. The most important features of Latin exegetical tradition involve the distinction between the roles of author and commentator; the different levels of meaning to be drawn from authoritative texts; and the array of literary-theoretical terms and concepts found in prologues to commentaries.The commentaries written by medieval exegetes – their techniques, terms, and attitudes – constituted a lively and ever-developing resource of precedents and models for how vernacular writers composed their works, and how in their paratexts they represented and “sold” themselves and their texts to their readerships. The range and importance of this exegetical sensibility to Old and Middle English literature are illustrated with a variety of examples.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Medieval British Literature
EditorsSiân Echard , Robert Rouse
Place of PublicationOxford
Pages756-762 (double columns)
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


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