The Golden Legend

A Commentary of Comparative Religion

On the basis of the fact that different traditions coincide in the Golden Legend while apocryphal literature of the Old and New Testament represent an important branch of the creation of a mentality of piety and the veneration of saints, the first step of the research project will to identify and collect these sources. The findings will then be analysed according to fundamental categories of comparative religion such as sacrifice, holiness, purity etc. At the same time a register of terms to be used as the basis for systematic research on special religious ideas will be compiled. In addition to this, the function of the legends as well as their use in sermons and cult right up to magic rituals will be examined. The Golden Legend is a milestone in the genre of Exempla literature which is to be included in the literature analysis.


The Golden Legend tends to be described as a naîve narration with an exuberant style which at best serves as an iconographic source for art historians but which does not constitute a scientific source (see for example the RGG "Legenda Aurea"). This one-sided view will be corrected in the new commentary. It aims to achieve a critical categorisation of the piece from anthropological and educational perspectives and will take into account aspects of the history of mentalities in the medieval time. The outcome of the commentary will benefit comparative religion, church history and history of mentalities.

Affiliated Persons


Dr. Philipp Reichling

Individual Researcher