The Hermeneutics of Supersession: The Revision of the Jews from the B to the C text of Piers Plowman
Where the B text endorses a model of the supersession in which Israel has been “continued” and fulfilled in the church, the revision to C represents a move toward a model in which Israel has been contradicted and replaced by the church. In the interpolations and revisions in C 17, assertions about the stability of Jewish Law are emptied of substantive meaning and value, even as Christianity is disconnected from its historical foundations in Judaism. The revision of Abraham-Faith in C 18, with its emphasis on the priority of faith and its prophetic announcement of the New Law, echoes the doctrinal justifications that reconstruct the Mosaic period and the Mosaic law into a temporary, albeit necessary, stage in the process of the true revelation of Christ. The passage in B 17 where the Samaritan gives a place in the new dispensation for Abraham-Faith and Moses-Hope as forester and hosteler is deleted in C, as is the tearing of the pardon scene, since it associates Piers with Moses. The poet’s response to the increasingly remote possibility of Jewish conversion, which he has demonstrated in his revisions, echoes a traditional response which postulates expulsion as the solution to the failure of the Jews to convert, just as the revision expels the Jews from his narrative.