Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7957
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Hall , Thomas N.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Earliest Anglo-Saxon Text of the "Trinubium Annae" (BHL 505z1)
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 29, 3 (Spring 1996):
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Anne, Mother of the Virgin, Saint Apocryphal Literature Literature- Prose Sources Trinubium Annae (Three Marriages of Saint Anne, Mother of the Virgin Mary) Women in Literature Women in Religion
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 11
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations:
  • Table:
  • Abstract: A central document in the early history of the cult of St. Anne is the "Trinubium Annae," a short apocryphon which narrates Anne's three successive marriages to Joachim, Cleophas and Salome, and identifies her as mother of three of the four New Testament Marys (all but Mary Magdalene). Although many versions of the "Trinubium" are in existence, the earliest prose recension is actually lifted from a chapter of Haymo of Auxerre's "Epitome of Sacred History." which first connects the idea that three of the four New Testament Marys were sisters with Jerome's teaching that the so-called "brothers" of Christ mentioned in the New Testament were sons of Mary's sisters. The result is Haymo's unprecedented claim - a claim passed on in the "Trinubium" - that the St. Anne of the "Protoevangelium of James" must have had three daughters, each named Mary, and that their collective progeny included Jesus and his so- called brothers. In 1925 Max Forster published a ground-breaking study of the "Trinubium"'s textual history in which he identified several recensions in wide circulation by the thineenth century, but because Forster was unaware of Haymo's "Epitome" he had difficulty reconstructing the earliest stages of the apocryphon's history. This paper identifies a previously unnoticed text of the "Trinubium Annae" and discusses its relationship to Old English literature, to the emerging cult of St. Anne in England, and to the corpus of Marian apocrypha circulating in England in the late-eleventh century. The text appears in Cambridge, St. John's College 35, f. 173v, a manuscript of Gregory the Great's "Homilies" on "Ezekiel" copied at Bury St. Edmunds during or shonly after the abbacy of Baldwin (1065-97). The St. John's text of the "Trinubium" Annae was thus copied at precisely the time that a mounting interest in Mary's conception and nativity was giving way to a nascent devotion too the mother of the Virgin herself. This argues that these twin devotional themes to Mary and Anne were supported by the collection of apocryphal and sermonic texts on the life of Mary at Bury St. Edmunds, and that the Bury abbey should be included in a list of the centers where the seeds of a cult to St. Anne were being sown before the close of the eleventh century. It also demonstrates a close textual relationship between the St. John's text of the "Trinubium Annae" and the Old English translation in London, BL Cotton Vespasian D.xiv, ff. 157v-158r [Reproduced by permission of Robert Schicler, the “Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies” editor, and the editors of the “Old English Newsletter.”].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1996.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
  • Material/Technique :
  • Rights: