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The Glossa Ordinaria

The Making of a Medieval Bible Commentary

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Lesley Smith

The Glossa Ordinaria on the Bible was the ubiquitous text of the Middle Ages. Compiled in twelfth-century France, this multi-volume work, containing the entire text of Scripture surrounded by a commentary drawn from patristic and medieval authors, is still extant in thousands of manuscripts, testifying to the centrality of the work for generations of medieval scholars. Although the Glossa has been the subject of modern study, it is surrounded by myth. This book, based on manuscript evidence, is the first to draw together the history of this monumental work, its authorship, content, layout, production and use. Raising new questions, and pointing the way to further research, it opens up the Glossa to all students of medieval religion and intellectual history.

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Sarah Carpenter

Abstract

From the late 1530s, when the translation of the Scriptures into English was authorised, there rapidly developed a new book-body of lay Bible-readers with new practices of reading and interpretation of the Bible. While the traditional biblical drama of the late middle ages was gradually suppressed or abandoned, a new generation of plays on scriptural subjects emerged, written by and addressed to these new readers. This paper explores the ways in which mid-sixteenth-century playwrights responded to the lively culture of Bible-reading in the early years of the Reformation. Increased focus on the literal, social and ethical implications of biblical stories guided playwrights towards a greatly expanded body of powerful narratives, which raised challenging human issues, allowing strong theatrical interpretation in relation to contemporary concerns. But the new theatrical strategies do not always sit quite comfortably with the special status accorded by Protestantism to the Bible as the word of God. These Reformation plays begin to suggest crucial tensions between drama and doctrine, inadvertently reinforcing the gradually increasing Protestant unease with the stage as a forum in which to address the Bible.


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Diana Wyatt

Abstract

Beverley, in the historical East Riding of Yorkshire, is known – from extant local manuscript evidence covering almost 150 years – to have had a Corpus Christi play like York, thirty miles to the north-west. The surviving Beverley manuscript records witness a play structure and performance method similar to that of York, though on a smaller scale: up to thirty-six pageants performed by craft guilds and other local groups on wagons at six stations over a route through the town from the North Bar to the port area at the Beckside. But whereas York also provides a play text which the manuscript evidence can support, from Beverley only records survive. This essay investigates the surviving evidence from Beverley itself as well as comparisons with extant play texts from York and elsewhere, and analogous evidence from Biblical subjects depicted in late medieval art, to try to establish how much we can learn from a play-text-less book-body of evidence about the content and nature of the Beverley play and its performance.


Franciscan Learning, Preaching and Mission c. 1220-1650

Cum scientia sit donum Dei, armatura ad defendendam sanctam Fidem catholicam…

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Bert Roest

Returning to themes first discussed in his book A History of Franciscan Education (Brill, 2000), Bert Roest discusses in this volume a wide range of issues pertaining to the organization of learning in the Franciscan order in the late medieval and early modern period, and the ways in which this order engaged in pastoral and missionary activities in confrontation with the rise of Protestantism. The essays in this volume break new ground in their treatment of school formation, the chronology of educational developments, and the transformation of Franciscan schools between the mid fifteenth and the mid seventeenth century. They also challenge ingrained scholarly verdicts on the efficacy of sixteenth-century mendicant homiletics, and on the role of the Franciscans in the Dutch mission from the early seventeenth century onwards.

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Edited by Elizabeth Lapina and Nicholas Morton

The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources sets out to understand the ideology and spirituality of crusading by exploring the biblical imagery and exegetical interpretations which formed its philosophical basis. Medieval authors frequently drew upon scripture when seeking to justify, praise, or censure the deeds of crusading warriors on many frontiers. After all, as the fundamental written manifestation of God’s will for mankind, the Bible was the ultimate authority for contemporary writers when advancing their ideas and framing their world view. This volume explores a broad spectrum of biblically-derived themes surrounding crusading and, by doing so, seeks to better comprehend a thought world in which lethal violence could be deemed justifiable according to Christian theology.
Contributors are: Jessalynn Bird, Adam M. Bishop, John D. Cotts, Sini Kangas, Thomas Lecaque, T. J. H. McCarthy, Nicholas Morton, Torben Kjersgaard Nielsen, Luigi Russo, Uri Shachar, Iris Shagrir, Kristin Skottki, Katherine Allen Smith, Thomas W. Smith, Carol Sweetenham, Miriam Rita Tessera, Jan Vandeburie, Julian J. T. Yolles, and Lydia Marie Walker.

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Bob Godfrey

Abstract

From the story of the Epiphany in Matthew’s Gospel this chapter offers a brief account of the evolution of Christian attitudes to Herod the Great and how the slaughtered Innocents became subjects of devotional attention, the first martyrs for Christ. Taking then a variety of examples of how the story of the Epiphany captured the imagination of Christian poets and liturgical and religious playmakers the discussion proceeds to an examination of two plays from the Towneley collection, The Offering of the Magi and Magnus Herodes. Focussing on the character of Herod as presented there it is shown how his character can be interpreted as both violently threatening and yet obviously absurd. This ambivalence is brought out most strongly in Magnus Herodes where the Wakefield Master skilfully manages audience reception to see Herod as a character in a play, an entertainment in his own right, as much as a target for Christian vindictiveness. Herod’s envoi in the Towneley play is cheeky since it foregrounds the character’s humanity as against his culpability. In comparison with other examples this playwright seems to have been reluctant to join the almost universal moralising and condemnation of Herod in favour of a perfectly theatrical outcome.