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Old Saxon Baptismal Vow

The Old Saxon Baptismal Vow, also called the Utrecht Baptismal Vow, is a 9th-century baptismal vow that was found in a monastery library in Mainz, Germany. The vow mentions three Germanic pagan gods of the early Saxons which the reader is to forsake: Uuôden ("Woden"), Thunaer and Saxnōt. Scholar Rudolf Simek comments that the vow is of particular interest because it is the sole instance of the god Saxnōt mentioned in a religious context. One of many baptismal vows, it is now archived in the Vatican Codex pal. 577.[1]

The language is disputed due to the strong similarities between Old Low Franconian (Old Dutch) and Old Saxon (Old Low German). It is assumed that the baptismal vow was in use at the Cathedral school of Utrecht in the present day Netherlands.

Contents

The VowEdit

This is only a part of the vow:

  • Old Saxon/Old Dutch
    End ec forsacho allum dioboles uuercum and uuordum, Thunær ende Uuôden ende Saxnôte ende allum thêm unholdum thê hira genôtas sint.[1]
  • Translation
    And I renounce all the deeds and words of the devil, Thunear, Wōden and Saxnōt, and all those fiends that are their companions.[1]

Language disputeEdit

A number of scholars have concluded the Baptismal Vow was actually written in the 8th century in Old Low Franconian — commonly known as Old Dutch. It is therefore considered by some to be one of the oldest texts written in (a version of) the Dutch language.[2] However, both German and Dutch scholars agree that most likely the authorship lies with a monk residing in the Utrecht monastery, even if it is not possible to conclusively prove the language used. The difficulty in establishing whether the text was written in Old Saxon or Old Franconian is that not only were the languages very much alike, monasteries like Utrecht, which was very much focused on missionary work, did not adhere to a single, unitary spoken language. [3]

Comparison to present-day Dutch and Low GermanEdit

To help understand the pronunciation better:

  • the archaic double [u] is replaced with the [w] (AKA "double-u")
  • the [c] and [ch] are replaced with the [k] (c) or [kh] (ch) to avoid confusion (Germanic languages never pronounced "c" as "s" or "ch" as "sh")
  • the [th] is replaced with the [d] to show distinction with [t]; same case can be found in the English "they"
Original word Modern Dutch Modern Low German (appr.) Modern Low Saxon
End En Un En
e[k] ik ik ik
forsa[kh]o verzaak versak versake
allum alle all alle
dioboles duivelse Deibels düvels
[w]ercum werken Warken warken
and en un en
[w]ordum woorden Woorten wöörde
[D]unær Donar Donar Dunar
ende en un en
[W]ôden Wodan Wodan Wodan
ende en un en
Saxnôte Saxnot Saxnot Saxnote
ende en un en
allum allen all alle
[d]êm (van) deze diesen dee
unholdum ontrouwen Unmannen unheiligen
[d]ê die de dee
hira hun h(i)er öäre
genôtas (bond)genoten genöem genoten
sint zijn sient sint

See alsoEdit

  • Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, a Latin collection of capitularies identifying and condemning superstitious and pagan beliefs found in the north of Gaul and among the Saxons during the time of their subjugation and conversion by Charlemagne

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Simek, p.276.
  2. ^ N. van der Sijs, Calendarium van de Nederlandse Taal, 2006 (in Dutch)
  3. ^ Utrecht zwischen York und Fulda, (in German) "Aus dem kodikologischen Kontext und aus der Geschichte des mit der Handschrift verbundenen Bonifatiusklosters Fulda ist zu schließen, daß Utrecht – auch wenn die sprachliche Argumentation an sich ungenügend ist, um die Texte dem kleinen Kloster zuzuschreiben – die beste Kandidatur für die Autorschaft besitzt. Die monastische Schriftkultur ist also in den nördlichen Niederlanden im 8. Jahrhundert seßhaft geworden. [...] Andererseits gab es im Missionskloster zu Utrecht zu viele Mönche und Priester verschiedener Herkunft, als daß man auf eine einheitliche germanische Sprache schließen könnte, die in Utrecht als einzige gesprochen worden wäre."

SourcesEdit

  • Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1