Piers Plowman: The Translation of Scripture and Food for the Soul.
The opposition between scientia, understanding or intellectual knowledge, and sapientia, the highest gift of the Holy Spirit, is illuminated in PPl through two metaphors: reading (or listening to) Scripture, and eating; while knowledge of Latin and the education it implies function paradoxically, at times to suggest a privileged knowledge of Scripture, at other times to suggest something less important than a natural knowledge of truth. The production and distribution of food can produce temporary social order but no effective moral force, yet Piers at first goes the way of “bely joy.” His turning to a plow of “priere and penaunce” emerges in the Pardon episode, where Piers criticizes the understanding of both priest and church with the authority of sapiential “kynde knowynge.” B 13 illustrates the difference between scientia and sapientia, as the friar misinterprets Scripture to the unlearned and the dreamer’s health is shown to derive from his learning patience, abstemiousness, and perseverance. The biblical text is presented as nourishing for those who have attained the wisdom to read experientially.
ES 74 (1993): 209-21.