Book Series Medieval Church Studies, vol. 24

The Pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ

Exploring the Middle English Tradition

Ian Johnson, Allan F. Westphall (eds)

  • Pages: 509 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:37 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2013

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54276-8
  • Hardback
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54317-8
  • E-book
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"There are interesting and useful arguments among these essays (...). Historians directly engaged with their immediate debates and contexts will find them worthwhile" (in: English Historical Review, 130.544, June 2015, p. 712-713)

“This important book shares a handful of contributors with another recent collection in the same Medieval Church Studies series from Brepols, After Arundel, edited by Vincent Gillespie and Kantik Ghosh (MCS 21, 2011). The Pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ joins that volume as an essential entry in the ongoing reappraisal of the orthodox religious climate of England in the late Middle Ages.” (E. A. Jones, in Speculum, 91/4, 2016, p. 1120-1121)


This is a collection of pioneering studies by a distinguished transatlantic team of scholars on a neglected yet canonical tradition of medieval English literature. From the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries and beyond, the remarkable ‘pseudo-Bonaventuran’ tradition, flowing from the Latin Meditationes vitae Christi (and thought, wrongly, to have been composed by St Bonaventure), gave Europe orthodox models for how to represent, know, and follow Jesus Christ. The Meditationes, in a huge variety of Latin and vernacular versions, invite their readers and listeners to imagine themselves present within the Gospel narrative. How to live, what to believe, how to feel, and how to be saved: this eloquent mainstream tradition had an impact on the public and private lives of English people more profound and lasting than any text save the Bible itself. For many, it even did the Bible’s work. The tradition of the Meditationes provides us with a gauge of lived religious sensibility without equal in the English later Middle Ages.

Deriving from the Queen’s Belfast-St Andrews AHRC-funded research project, Geographies of Orthodoxy: Mapping the English Pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ, c. 1350-1550, this volume questions and revises previous descriptions of the devotional, cultural, and political contexts in which pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ were produced, circulated, read, and understood. The period spanning the rise and repression of Lollardy, the ostensibly ‘orthodox’ fifteenth century, and the Tudor Reformations will never look quite the same again.





I. History and Ideology

The Name of Jesus, Nicholas Love’s Mirror, and Christocentric Devotion in Late Medieval England — ROB LUTTON

Reversing the Life of Christ: Dissent, Orthodoxy, and Affectivity in Late Medieval England — MISHTOONI BOSE

II. Manuscript Culture: Books and Contexts

‘Some sprytuall matter of gostly edyfycacion’: Readers and Readings of Nicholas Love’s Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ — RYAN PERRY

Reading Miscellaneously in and around the English Pseudo‑Bonaventuran Tradition — JOHN J. THOMPSON

Fatherless Books: Authorship, Attribution, and Orthodoxy in Later Medieval England — VINCENT GILLESPIE

Organic and Cybernetic Metaphors for Manuscript Relations: Stemma – Cladogram – Rhizome – Cloud — MICHAEL G. SARGENT

Seeking Salvation: Fifteenth-Century Uses of The Rule of the Life of Our Lady — AMANDA MOSS

III. The Pseudo-Bonaventuran Tradition and its Textual Relations

The Liber Aureus and Gospel of Nicodemus: A Middle English Reading of the Meditationes vitae Christi — WILLIAM MARX

The Carthusian Milieu of Nicholas Love’s Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ — DAVID J. FALLS

Oon of Foure: Harmonizing Wycliffite and Pseudo‑Bonaventuran Approaches to the Life of Christ — MAR Y RASCHKO

What Nicholas Love Did in his Proheme with St Augustine and Why — IAN JOHNSON

Ulrich Pinder’s Speculum passionis Christi and John Fewterer’s Mirror or Glass of Christ’s Passion: Reflecting and Refracting Tradition — ALEXANDRA DA COSTA

Bonaventure’s Lignum vitae: The Evolution of a Text — CATHERINE INNES-PARKER

Walter Hilton’s The Prickynge of Love and the Construction of Vernacular ‘Sikernesse’ — ALLAN F. WESTPHALL