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Jóns saga Hólabyskups ens helga is a vernacular vita et miracula of Jón Ögmundarson, bishop of Hólar in the North of Iceland at the beginning of the twelfth century. The saga was written not long after Bishop Jón had been declared a saint at the alþingi in 1200 and survives in three recensions, the archetype of which was either the original Icelandic text or an early revision of it. One of these recensions, here designated S because it occurs in manuscripts associated with Skálholt, is already attested in a fragment from c. 1300. Another, designated L because its style is strongly marked by Latinate floridity, is extant from around the middle of the fourteenth century and displays particular affinity with the Dunstanus saga of Árni Laurentiusson byskups Kálfssonar, composed in the third decade of that century. The third recension, designated H because of its association with Hólar, is only preserved in manuscripts of the seventeenth century but probably shares a hyparchetype with the L recension. Both L and H are preserved in a defective state, though the former contains characteristic interpolations about Sæmundr fróði and Gísl Illugason and the latter many additional miracles as compared with S. However, since S has the appearance of an abridged text it remains uncertain whether the extra miracles of H were in the original saga or were taken over by the H redactor from a separate dossier.
The present critical edition of Jóns saga Hólabyskups supersedes that published in Biskupa sögur I (1858) and is a companion volume to the synthetic text published by Peter Foote in Íslenzk fornrit XV (2003).
Peter Foote was born in England in 1924 and after service in the Royal Navy graduated in English in 1948. After a year at the University of Oslo he became a research student in University College, London, where he remained for the rest of his career, latterly (1963-83) as Professor of Scandinavian Studies. The Arnamagnæan Institutes in Denmark and Iceland have benefited from many years of collaboration with Peter Foote.
His previous work on medieval Scandinavian hagiographical texts includes the facsimile editions of Stockholm perg. fol. nr 2 and Stockholm perg. 4:o nr 19 that appeared in Copenhagen in 1962 and 1990 (Early Icelandic Manuscripts in Facsimile, Vols. IV and XIX).
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