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6. Nicholas Love writes in the Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ, “all tho thinges that Jesus dide, bene not writen in the Gospelle” (Sargent, 10:40-41). What are the implications of this statement in terms of Nicholas Love’s Mirror and theological politics in the late medieval period?

6. Nicholas Love writes in the Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ, “all tho thinges that Jesus dide, bene not writen in the Gospelle” (Sargent, 10:40-41). What are the implications of this statement in terms of Nicholas Love’s Mirror and theological politics in the late medieval period?

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Sarah McKeon. Originally submitted for English Literature at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer H. Magennis in the category of English Language and Literature
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Sarah McKeon. Originally submitted for English Literature at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer H. Magennis in the category of English Language and Literature

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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05/13/2014

 
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6. Nicholas Love writes in the Mirror of the Blessed Life of JesusChrist, “all tho thinges that Jesus dide, bene not writen in theGospelle” (Sargent, 10:40-41). What are the implications of thisstatement in terms of Nicholas Love’s Mirror and theological politicsin the late medieval period?
In 1410 Archbishop Arundel sanctioned the publication and dissemination of NicholasLove’s
Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ
. In a memorandum attachedto copies distributed thereafter, Love’s part in Arundel’s campaign against theWycliffite heresy becomes clear:Lord Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury […] commended andapproved [
 The Mirror
] personally, and further decreed andcommanded by his metropolitan authority that it be publisheduniversally for the edification of the faithful and the confutation of heretics or lollards (“Memorandum” Sargent 13-20).Love’s
Mirror
 becomes a tool in Arundel’s arsenal to counter Wycliffite polemics. Asa vernacular rendition of the life of Christ it performs the role of a pedagogic transla-tion of the New Testament story with exegesis and orthodox interpretations embeddedin the narrative itself.When Arundel refers to the “faithful” he means those who have faith in thedoctrine and teachings of Church of Christ, as opposed to the Wycliffites whose “in-tellectual roots” lay, according to Michael Sargent, in the “hermeneutics of doubt’ im- plicit in their scholastic treatment of the
auctoritas
of authoritative documents”(Sargent xv). Wyclif and his followers had come to doubt the authority of Church doc-trines, for they perceived that they were built around biblical translations of “Biblis inLatyn” which were “ful false”. They argued that the Latin Bibles were “fals” becausethe “bokis discordith most fro Ebru” (
 The Wycliffite Bible: From the Prologue
 
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XII 279-85).This essay discusses issues of Biblical hermeneutics in Love’s
Mirror
, con-trasting Love’s Thomastic approach to that set down in the biblical writings of JohnWyclif and the Lollards. I begin by outlining the principles guiding Love’s composi-tion and move on to discuss political and religious problematical aspects of the
Mir-ror
. The second phase of this essay looks at key Wycliffite criticisms of the Churchand its attitude to Scripture and argues that Wyclif, though radical in his criticisms of the Church was in fact quite traditional in his approach to biblical translation. This es-say asserts that whilst Love’s
Mirror
challenges heretical beliefs by proselytisingChurch doctrine, its form and content undermines the ecclesiastics’ role in the piousdevotions of the laity and therefore does not completely resolve the threat to orthodoxhermeneutics and theology by the Wycliffite project of Biblical vernacularisation.Love’s
Mirror
takes its place in a long tradition of biblical translation, a factthat Love emphasises in his
Proem
: boþe men and women & euery Age & euery dignite of this worlde isstirid to hope of euery lasting lyf. Ande for þis hope & þis entent withholi writte also bene wryten diuerse bokes & trettes of devoute men notonelich in latyne, but also in Englyshe to lewde men & women þat bene of simple vndirstondyng (Sargent 10:2-7).The
Mirror
’s appeal is in part its democratic polemic. It appeals across gender, estate,and temporal borders to all those who seek the “ensaumple of vertues & gude liuyngof holy men writen in bokes” (Sargent
 
9:13). Love attends to anxieties over status andestate by claiming to build a bridge between the Latinate and the
illiterati
. Consciousof Latin’s place as the language of ecclesiastical
auctoritas
, Love alludes to thewritings of the great
auctors
on biblical translation and dissemination of the word of God. A quotation from St. Paul (Sargent 9:4-6)
 
sets in motion a catalogue of theolo-
 
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gians and saints who legitimise Love’s
causa
(Sargent 9:22; 10: 10; 23; 36; 40;11:2). Thus we see that Love complies with the Latin traditions of rhetoric and her-meneutics.However, Love’s
Mirror
is not a literal translation of the Gospels. Love ar-gues that “alle þo þinges þat Jesus dide, bene not writen in þe Gospelle” according toSaint John (Sargent 10:40-41) and cites St. Gregory “& oþer doctors” who said that“holi writte may be expownet & vnderstande in diuerse maneres, & to diuerse pur- poses” to justify his approach to biblical hermeneutics (Sargent 11:2-3). Love’s
Mir-ror
is a translation of a Latin book of meditations on the narrative life of Christ, the
Meditationes Vitae Christi
, a pseudo-Bonaventuran text (Sargent ix-x). He uses
inventio
in his translation, applying the constructs of orthodox hermeneutics to themaster narrative, rearranging and embellishing it “by appropriating the prescriptivestrategies of rhetoric” and exegesis (Copeland 2001: 83) to create a locus for contem- plation for the edification of “deuoute soules” (Sargent 10:17).
 The Mirror
is a vernacular medium for a mystical relationship with the God-head. It works as an affective text rooted in the cultivation of a vocabulary of internal-ised devotion. In the affective tradition of pious devotion the process through whichthe mystery of Christ’s humanity, and indeed the humanity of all saints is understood,is through an internal, ritualised focus on the humanity of Christ. This is in order tocultivate spiritual imagination – the inner eye. Love proposes a programme of medita-tion that shadows the ecclesiastical calendar (Sargent 13:5-24), thus his
Mirror
is asupplement to the Church’s ministry. In this respect it acknowledges the role of theClergy in the spiritual life of the believer.According to Kantik Ghosh, Love’s
Mirror
engages with Lollardy on severalfronts. It counters heretical beliefs by attending to a doctrinal polemic on confession,

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