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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Allra postula minnisvísur, 6 [Vol. 7, 860-1]

[6-8] vartu prófandi lófa benjar rauðar blóði á drottins síðu ‘you were examining with your hand the wounds red with blood in the Lord’s side’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) interprets lófa as if acc. pl. of lófi ‘palm, hand’, and regards both lófa and benjar as governed by prófandi. He translates the passage: du prøvede hænderne og de af blod røde sår i herrens side ‘you tested the hands and the wounds red with blood in the Lord’s side’, an interpretation which finds support in John XX.25 and esp. John XX.27 deinde dicit Thomae, infer digitum tuum huc et vide manus meas, et adfer manum tuam et mitte in latus meum ‘Then he saith to Thomas, Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand and put it into my side’. Kock (NN §3376) prefers to interpret lófa as dat. instr. sg.: du prövade med handen... ‘you tested with your hand...’ The latter would appear to be the correct interpretation, particularly since the image of Thomas touching Christ’s wounded side (rather than his hands) circulates as a traditional representation of the Apostle (see, e.g. Braun 1943, 774; Roeder 1956, 24; Kilström 1974, 239). The same tradition is regularly included in prayers to S. Thomas, cf. Gjerløw 1980, I, 181 (AM 241 a fol). The phrase vartu prófandi benjar ‘you were examining the wounds’ appears to recall an epithet used, for instance, in the hymn commonly sung at the Feast of S. Thomas (21 December, see Ordo Nidr. 301; cf. 495): O Thoma, Christi perlustrator lateris, per illa sancta te rogamus vulnera ... ‘O Thomas, examiner of the side of Christ, by those wounds we entreat you ...’ (AH 51, 122, no. 107, st. 3; CH, 90; DH, 113); cf. Gjerløw 1980, I, 181 [Peterborough]. The fact that Thomas is regularly referred to as Christi perlustrator lateris ‘examiner of Christ’s side’ suggests that the phrase prófandi vartu lófa blóði benjar rauðar ... á drottins síðu might alternatively be interpreted as ‘with your hand you were the examiner of the wound red with blood in the Lord’s side’.

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