The first complete English rendering of the most widely read medieval collection of saints' lives, originally compiled in about 1260, and without peer until replaced by Butler's Lives
four hundred years later. The 182 readings on the saints and on feast days are arranged according to the liturgical calendar, and were originally written with an eye toward edification and piety rather than Enlightenment standards of historical accuracy. Not to say that Jacobus was uninterested in history; over 130 sources dating from the second to the thirteenth centuries were incorporated into his work, and he was aware of and tried to reconcile discrepancies between them. But his primary concern was to illustrate the awareness of God present and active in human history, an activity which in the medieval mind presupposed the miraculous as commonplace. The Golden Legend
is an incomparable source for the study of medieval art history, popular culture, literature, and piety. Volume 1 of 2.
An Eighth Day View:
Depicting the lives of the saints in an array of both factual and fictional stories, "The Golden Legend" was perhaps the most widely read book, after the Bible, during the late Middle Ages. In his new translation, the first in modern English of the complete text from the Graesse edition, William Granger Ryan captures the immediacy of this rich, image-filled work, and offers an important guide for readers interested in medieval art and literature and in popular religious culture more generally.