ENGL 4301 Winter 2000-01
Back to the Syllabus
This simplified Old Testament story comes from Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer (Oxford 1882). Note that the spelling has been regularized and that the dialect is a sort of regularized West-Saxon that is typically used in teaching elementary Old English. Note too that as a translation from the Latin, this passage does not really represent spontaneous Old English usage. It's a sort of artificial Old English, but it's based on Old English Bible translations that were, after all, intended to bring the Latin Bible to English speakers. So it's a reasonable starting-point for looking at how the language of the time of Ælfric (about the year 1000) differs from ours. To read a modern gloss of the Old English, just swipe the area below each line with your cursor. In the gloss, I have tried to give an English equivalent for every word, if familiar enough, even if the gloss is a bit archaic. I have represented noun endings with A for accusative and D for dative where necessary, leaving nominative usually unmarked and genitive as the modern genitive.
God wolde þa fandian Abrahames gehiersumnesse
God would then to-find Abraham's hearsomeness
and clipode his naman and cwæþ him þus to
and called his name-A and quoth him-D thus to
"Nim þinne ancennedan sunu Isaac þe þu lufast
"Take thine one-kinned-A son-A Isaac whom thou lovest
and far to þæm lande Visionis hraþe
and fare to the-D land-D "of Vision" quickly
and geoffra hine þær uppan anre dune."
and offer him-A there upon a-D dune-D."
Abraham þa aras on þære ilcan nihte
Abraham then arose on that-D very-D night-D
and ferde mid twæm cnapum to þæm fierlenan lande
and fared with two-D knaves-D to the-D far-lying-D land-D
and Isaac samod on assum ridende.
and Isaac along-with on asses-D riding.
þa on þone þriddan dæg þa hie þa dune gesawon
then on the-D third-D day-D they the-A dune-A saw
þær þær hie to scoldon to ofsleanne Isaac
where-where they to should to slay Isaac
þa cwæþ Abraham to þæm twæm cnapum þus:
then quoth Abraham to the-D two-D knaves-D thus:
"anbidiaþ eow her mid þæm assum sume hwile.
"bide you here with the-D asses-D for-some-D for-while-D.
ic and þæt cild gaþ unc to gebiddene
I and the child go us-two-A to pray
and wit siþþan cumaþ sona eft to eow."
and we-two afterwards come soon back to you-D."
Abraham þa het Isaac beran þone wudu to þære stowe
Abraham then bade Isaac to-bear the-A wood-A to the-D place-D
and he self bær his sweord and fyr.
and he self bore his sword-A and fire-A.
Isaac þa ascode Abraham his fæder
Isaac then asked Abraham-A his father
"Fæder min, ic ascige hwær seo offrung sie
"Father mine, I ask where the offering may-be
her is wudu and fyr." him adwyrde se fæder
here is wood and fire." him-D answered the father
"God foresceawaþ min sunu him self þa offrunge."
"God foreshows my son by-him-D self the-A offering-A."
Hie comon þa to þære stowe þe him gesweotolode God
They came then to the-D place-D that them-D indicated God
and he þær weofod arærde on þa ealdan wisan
and he there altar-A a-reared in the-D old-D wise-D
and þone wudu gelogode
and the-A wood-A lodged
swa swa he hit wolde habban to his suna bærnette
as-as he it-A would to-have for his son's burning-D
siþþan he ofslægan wurde. he geband þa his sunu
after he to-slay might-have. He bound then his son-A
and his sweord ateah þæt he hine geoffrode on þa ealdan wisan.
and his sword drew so he him-A might-offer in the-D old-D wise-D.
mid þæm þe he wolde þæt weorc beginnan
with the when he would the-A work-A to-begin
þa clipode Godes engel arodlice of heofonum:
then called God's angel quickly from heaven-D:
"Abraham." he andwyrde sona. se engel him cwæþ to:
"Abraham." he answered soon. the angel him-D quoth to:
"ne acwele þu þæt cild ne þine hand ne astrece ofer his sweoran.
"Neither quell thou the-A child-A nor thine-A hand-A not stretch over his neck-A.
nu ic oncneow soþlice þæt þu swiþe ondrætst God
now I know soothly that thou greatly dreadest God-A
nu þu þinne ancennedan sunu ofslean woldest for him."
now thou thine one-kinned-A son-A slay wouldst for him-D."
þa besaeh Abraham sona under bæc
then looked Abraham soon under back
and gesaeh þær anne ramm
and saw there a-A ram-A
betwix þæm bremlum be þæm hornum gehæft
betwixt the-D brambles-D by the-D horns-D held
and he ahefde þone ramm to þære offrunge
and he heaved the-A ram-A to the-D offering-D
and hine þær ofsnaþ Gode to lace for his sunu Isaac.
and it-A there slaughtered to-God-D as offering-D for his son-A Isaac.
he het þa þa stowe Dominus videt
he called then the-A place-A Dominus videt
þæt is "God gesiehþ" and giet is gesægd swa
that is "God sees" and yet is said so
In monte Dominus videbit, þæt is, "God gesiehþ on dune."
In monte Dominus videbit,that is, "God sees on dune-D."
eft clipode se engel Abraham and cwæþ:
again called the angel Abraham-A and quoth:
"Ic swerige þurh me selfne sægde se Ælmihtiga
"I swear through me-D self-D said the Almighty
nu þu noldest arian þinum ancennedan suna
now thou wouldst-not spare thine-D one-kinned-D son-D
ac wæs min ege mare þonne his lif
but was my awe a-more-thing than his life
ic þe nu bletsige and þinne ofspring gemanigfielde
I thee now bless and thy-A offsping-A bemanifold
swa swa steorran on heofonum
as-as stars in heaven-D
and swa swa sand-ceosol on sæ.
and as-as sand-grains in sea-D.
þin ofspring sceal agan hiera feonda gatu.
thy offspring shall to-own their fiends' gate-A.
and on þinum sæde beoþ ealle þeoda gebletsode
and in thy-D seed-D be all peoples-A blessed
for þæm þe þu gehiersumodest minre hæse þus."
because thou obeyedest my-D command-D thus."
Abraham þa gecierde sona to his cnapum
Abraham then returned soon to his knaves-D
and ferde him ham swa mid heofonlicre bletsunge.
and fared him-D home so with heavenly-D blessing-D.