St John's College : Iephte (Jephthah) by John Christopherson

St John's College

<p style='text-align: justify;'> The manuscript contains a play written in Greek, the tragedy <i> Iephte (Jephthah) by John Christopherson</i> (d. 1558), chaplain and confessor to Queen Mary I of England, Master of Trinity College (1553-1558), Dean of Norwich (1554-1557) and Bishop of Chichester (1557-1558). The composition of this play has to be contextualised within the framework of the sixteenth-century collegiate drama, used by teachers for the behavioural, moral and linguistic instruction of students in universities such as Cambridge and Oxford. This text is quite unique, because it is an original composition in Greek, instead of an adaptation or translation of a Greek tragedy, as was more common for such purposes (see Paul D. Streufert, "Christopherson at Cambridge: Greco-Catholic Ethics in the Protestant University", in: Paul D. Streufert, Jonathan Walker, <i> Early Modern Academic Drama</i>, London 2009, pp. 45-63). The tragedy, inspired by Euripides' <i> Iphigenia in Aulis</i>, has as its protagonist Iephte (or Jephthah), a Biblical character cited in <i> Judges</i>, a judge of Israel who sacrificed his daughter in consequence of a vow. The drama was written c. 1543-1547, maybe around 1544 (for the date see S. Boas, <i> University drama in the Tudor age</i>, Oxford, 1914, pp. 45-47; C. Upton, <i> John Christopherson Iephte, William Goldingham Herodes</i>, Hildesheim-Zürich-New York 1988, p. 2; F.H. Fobes [ed.], <i> Jephthah by John Christopherson</i>, Newark 1928, pp. 7-8 ).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> There is one other known copy of the Greek text: <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='https://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-TRINITY-O-00001-00037/1'> Cambridge, Trinity College, MS O.1.37</a>. A translation in Latin is preserved in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Tanner 466 (see Upton 1988, where the Latin text is reproduced). In the opinion of the editor of the text, the manuscripts are two different revisions by the author, and therefore neither can be said to be a copy of the other ( Fobes 1928, p. 16). </p> In this copy of the Greek text, the tragedy is dedicated to Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559) when he was bishop of Durham, i.e. after 1530. This date is a <i> terminus a quo</i> for the copy of this manuscript. <p style='text-align: justify;'> Dr Erika Elia</p>


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