The Gloss and glossing: William Langland's Biblical hermeneutic

Young, David John (2011). The Gloss and glossing: William Langland's Biblical hermeneutic. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis investigates the use to which William Langland puts the Glossa Ordinaria to authorise his vision of ethical, social and ecclesiastical reform in Piers Plowman. There was much in late fourteenth-century England to arouse the ire of the reformer and satirist and among Langland's targets was glossing the Bible. Yet the Bible was only available in glossed editions; so why and how did he differentiate between the Glossa Ordinaria and contemporary glossing? The answer seems to lie in the exploitative and dishonest use to which glossing was often put. Langland sees beyond that, however, recognising the ethical perils of linguistic diversity and more serious still, the lack of ethical content in, and even the antinomian tendencies of conventional (mostly Augustinian) understandings of some major Christian doctrines, such as predestination and free will, original sin, grace, the image of God in man, the Incarnation of Christ, and the relationship between wisdom, knowledge and love. This thesis examines the extent to which Langland deviates from these conventional understandings and revisits older understandings with more ethical productivity and a greater motivation for the laity to live ethically. He finds in the Gloss a source of such understandings.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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