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The Saga of St. Jón of Hólar

This volume contains a translation of the version of the Saga of St. Jón of Hólar that is probably closest to the first Latin vita. It is only the second saga of an Icelandic episcopal saint to appear in a modern translation in the present century. The volume consists of two parts, the first comprising a general introduction and a translation by Margaret Cormack. The second part provides a detailed scholarly analysis of the manuscripts, contents, style, and literary connections of the saga by the late Peter Foote, one of the foremost scholars of Old Norse and Icelandic literature. 

The Jóns saga was written in the early thirteenth century, nearly a century after the death of its protagonist, the first bishop of the diocese of Hólar in Northern Iceland. The author of the saga combined Latin learning with native folklore to produce a readable narrative that is contemporary with the earliest family and contemporary sagas. This text provides valuable insight into the religious life of ordinary Icelanders in the thirteenth century, and the introduction corrects common misconceptions about ecclesiastical history and the cult of saints in Iceland. It will be of value to scholars of medieval Icelandic literature, hagiography, and history. 

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"Inherently fascinating and informative, The Saga of St. Jon of Holar will be of special appeal to readers with an interest in the lives of Christian Saints. An impressive work of meticulous scholarship, organization and presentation."

Midwest Book Review

Table of Contents

Part I
The Church in Medieval Iceland
Jón’s Translation and cultus
Versions of Jóns saga
The Idealization of a Saint; Literary, Hagiographic, and Folkloric Commonplaces in Jóns saga
Ancestry and Childhood
Travel Abroad
Outstanding Qualities
Miscellaneous Motifs
Vows and Miracle
Dating and Chronology
Notes on Medieval Icelandic Society
Notes on the translation
The Saga of St. Jón of Hólar
Appendix I: Gísls þáttr according to L
Appendix II: Sæmundar þáttr according to L
Appendix III: Jón’s school at Hólar from L
Appendix IV: Food multiplication miracle from L
Appendix V: Deposition concerning Þingeyrar
Part II
Peter Foote’s Introduction to the Reykjavík Edition
§ 1 The Recensions of Jóns saga
1.1 The S Recension
1.1.1 Manuscript Sources
1.1.2 Style and Character
1.1.3 The Date of the S Recension
1.2 The L Recension
1.2.1 Manuscripts of the L Recension
1.2.2 Style and Character
1.2.3 The Date of the L Recension
1.3 The H Recension
1.3.1 Manuscripts of the H Recension
1.3.2 Style and Character
1.3.3 Dating
§ 2 The Primary Text
2.1 The Author’s Voice
2.2 References to Report
2.3 The Primary Text and Other Sources
2.3.1 Íslendingabók
2.3.2 Ísleifs þáttr
2.3.3 Egils þáttr Síðu-Hallssonar (Egils þáttr ok Tófa)
2.3.4 Þorláks saga
2.4 Þorláks saga and the S version of Jóns saga
2.5 Þorláks saga and the H recension of Js
§ 3 Gísls þáttr Illugasonar
§ 4 Sæmundar þáttr
§ 5 Miracles in Jóns saga and other sources
5.1 The order and dating of the acta post translationem
5.2 Miracles in other sources
5.3 Characteristics of the miracle reports
§ 6 Gunnlaugr Leifsson’s Vita sancti Johannis
§ 7 Chronology and History
7.1 Dating
7.2 Jón’s two marriages
7.3 Jón’s school
7.4 Extrinsic Sources
§ 8 Cult and memorials to St. Jón
§ 9 Editions and Translations
§ 10 Manuscripts

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