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Title: Medieval Irish eschatology : sources and scholarship
Author: Boyle, E. L.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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This dissertation is the first sustained analysis of two medieval Irish texts, Scéla laí brátha and Scéla na esérgi, both of which elucidate aspects of medieval Irish Christian eschatology, the branch of theology which deals with beliefs regarding the end of the world and final judgement. Also included are English translations. Part one demonstrates the urgent need for close examinations of the language, structure and theological content of medieval Irish eschatological texts. Part two consists of two such extended readings. That of Scéla laí brátha (ch. 4) reveals how the text articulates sophisticated ideas about what constituted the perfect society, i.e. ‘heaven’ and its absolute antithesis, i.e. ‘hell’. I examine the way the author’s depiction of heaven and hell in the text might reflect contemporary political and social pressures, and I suggest that this tells us something about the circumstances in which it was composed. The study of Scéla na esérgi (ch. 5), by contrast, shows that the concern of that text is what constitutes the perfect individual. The text addresses the issue of those born with deformed bodies, and how they will be resurrected with more ‘perfect’ bodies at the final judgement. I argue that the structure, vocabulary and theology of the text are indicative of its being the product of a scholar working in a highly sophisticated and humanistic philosophical milieu. This dissertation demonstrates that, whilst Scéla laí brátha and Scéla na esérgi articulate ideas about different aspects of the eschatological process, they are also complementary pieces – the former concerned with the perfect society, the latter with the nature of those who live in it. My research shows that both texts draw on aspects of Augustinian theology in order to articulate a coherent ideology concerning the end of the physical world and the societies which, according to Christian teaching, will be created in its aftermath.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available