Visualizing Judgment in Anglo-Saxon England: Illumination, Metaphor, and Christ III

  • Sachi Shimomura
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


If, in the beginning—“In principio”—God divides the light from the darkness, then the end of time—the Last Judgment—enacts the ultimate division of light from darkness. Highly visual, implacable antitheses delineate that teleology. Narratives of that division infuse its auditors with anxiety about the unavoidable end and its imminent revelations. These narratives reveal uncertainties about judgment and vision in early Christian cultures. Authors like Dante later pick up on such anxieties to develop overarching visions of religious certainty within the unfolding of history. Even in their earlier stages, however, these anxieties generate views of religious culture, authority, and teleology that shed light on surrounding literary traditions. The Old English homilies and the poem Christ III reshape Doomsday’s dichotomous metaphors and sense of closure in ways that particularly expose concerns about the capacity of language to express those attributes vividly. Their imagery engages the narrative implications of figural language in relation to that teleology toward final revelation. Such concerns contrast the clarity of Doomsday with the doubt of this world, a realm of uncertain and unreliable metaphor.


Good Deed Visual Judgment Visual Term Heroic Poetry Exeter Book 
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© Sachi Shimomura 2006

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  • Sachi Shimomura

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