«History of the Three Kings» by John of Hildesheim in Ukrainian and Belarusian literature


  • Yurii Peleshenko Shevchenko Institute of Literature NAS of Ukraine




Bible, apocrypha, the Late Middle Ages, «passion» novels, «History of the Three Kings»


The aim of this paper is to investigate the so-called «passion» novels translated from the Latin language and appeared in Ukraine and Belarus in the second half of the 15th century, the function of which was to expand and explain texts of the biblical canon. Apart from the number of apocrypha, narratives about the passion of Christ were not heretical. «History of the Three Kings» is one of the examples of «passion» novels, known in three redactions of the 15th – 17th centuries. This text is the translation of the work by German theologian John of Hildesheim (between 1310 and 1320–1377) «Liber de gestis et trina beatissimorum regum translatione», first published in Cologne in 1477 (second edition – 1486). Research methods: basic principles of culture-historical approach. Results of the research. The plot of «History of Three Kings» is derived from the episode in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2 1–2), dedicated to three Wise Men (Three magi) from the east to Bethlehem, where they paid homage to the infant Jesus. This laconic gospel story is the basis for voluminous work, full of apocryphal and explicitly fantastic details of natural science field or related fields, especially, geography. Scientific novelty. The article is the first attempt to analyse «History of the Three Kings» in Ukrainian and Belarusian literary studies. It is emphasized that the text has mosaic structure. Framed elements of the text are analysed. Special attention is given to translational strategies of Latin poetry into the language of scribes from Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Practical meaning. The article extends the current knowledge about key tendencies of literature and historical process of the 15th century in Ukraine and Belarus, reduces the number of «white spots» in medieval cultural map, and provides new perspectives for the future research.





Comparative literature