Title Background

<i>Piers Plowman</i> and the Books of Wisdom.

Piers Plowman and the Books of Wisdom.

Proposes the influence of the canonical and apocryphal Wisdom books on PPl’s themes, style, and structural discontinuities. The major theme of PPl, the experience of an individual within the community who is searching for a knowyng of God which cannot be satisfied by theories, is also the theme of wisdom literature; and the reiteration of a single name, Treuthe, for a variety of referents parallels the use of the biblical hokmah, wisdom. The various, often contradictory discourses that characterize the mix of genres in the poem is reminiscent of biblical books in general and especially characteristic of Wisdom books. Readers of both PPl and wisdom literature are forced to wrestle with the text; the non-naturalistic use of time and lack of an organic beginning-middle-end recalls the aphoristic timelessness of wisdom literature. And in PPl many of the key speeches that serve as foci of truth are the most riddling. Of all the wisdom books, PPl most resembles Job, in containing a series of dialogues and a theophany between a narrative beginning and end; elements of comedy and satire directed towards those who merely theorize about God; and disputations that reach no satisfactory logical conclusion.