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Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Iephte (Jephthah) by John Christopherson

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> This manuscript contains the Greek 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 behavioral, moral and linguistic instruction of the students, in the universities of 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, which was more common (see Paul D. Streufert, 'Christopherson at Cambridge: Greco-Catholic Ethics in the Protestant University' in <i> Early Modern Academic Drama</i>, ed. by Paul D. Streufert and Jonathan Walker (London, 2009), pp. 45-63). The tragedy, inspired by Euripides' <i> Iphigenia in Aulis</i>, has as its protagonist a Biblical character cited in <i> Judges</i>, Iephte (or Jephthah), a judge of Israel who killed his daughter, having vowed to sacrifice whatever would come out of the door of his house first. The drama was written from 1543-1547, maybe around 1544 (for the date see F.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> (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;'> The only other known copy of the text in Greek is <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''> Cambridge, St John's College, MS H.19</a>. A translation into Latin is preserved in Oxford, Bodleian Library, 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 they have not been copied one from one another ( Fobes (1928), p. 16).</p> In this copy of the Greek text, the tragedy is dedicated to William Parr (1513-1571) when he was Earl of Essex, i.e. after 23 December 1543. Therefore, it must have been copied after this date and, in Upton's view, the composition of the play must also have taken place after this date (see Upton (1988), p. 2).<p style='text-align: justify;'> Dr Erika Elia</p>

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