Christ’s Humanity and Piers Plowman: Contexts and Political Implications.
Representations of Christ, like the dominant late medieval model that focuses devotion on Christ’s humanity and passion, are constructed in determinate eclesiastical, political, and economic contexts, each with its cultural implications and consequences. The serious challenge posed to the hegemony of the church by Lollardy concerned itself with what Christ taught, his lifestyle and prophetic word, and aimed at a thorough reformation of Christian practices and doctrines such that could not be fostered by an imitatio Christi centered on the Passion and Crucifixion. The emphasis in PPl is on a socially embodied and collective imitatio, on the way that “divine power, through the Incarnation, is identified with the cause of humankind.” The one unforgivable sin becomes vnkyndenesse. The crucified Christ is a “conqueror noble”; the demand is for an ethical and communitarian embodiment of Christ’s legacy. Significanly, Conscience is driven, albeit reluctantly, outside the existing church in response to the poem’s visions of Christ.
YLS 8 (1994): 107-25.