“For-soþe i had leuar se ȝow be slayn”: Margery kempe and the biblical susanna

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This article documents several unrecorded allusions to Susanna and the Elders (Dan. 13) in The Book of Margery Kempe, analyzes their function, and compares them with similar undetected echoes of the story in the Vita Offae Primi, attributed to Matthew Paris, John Whethamstede’s Registrum, Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale, Hoccleve’s Series, the fabliau “Auberee,” and the chantefable Aucassin et Nicolette. Whereas some passages in the Book implicitly liken Kempe to Susanna, others contrast them. Yet the irony that emerges from the latter, for which her second scribe and confessor is probably responsible, does not turn her into a caricature of failed biblical virtue. On the contrary, it humanizes her and provides a glimpse of their intricate relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-188
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Medieval Religious Cultures
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Biblical allusion
  • Biblical reception
  • Daniel 13
  • Margery Kempe
  • Susanna and the Elders


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