Title Background

Waymarks in the Mind: Finding the Kingdom in Langland’s Vulgate Quotations and Bible Contexts

Waymarks in the Mind: Finding the Kingdom in Langland’s Vulgate Quotations and Bible Contexts

Scholars recognize the importance of the Vulgate quotations in PPl, but few have investigated the relevance of the original biblical context from which these quotations are taken: discussion of the Vulgate contexts has been very limited even though the Bible contexts reflect PPl‘s vernacular text. Research for this thesis, examining the context of every Bible quotation and its associated materials, revealed a series of themes: ‘Truth’ is a major instance, but ‘Baptism’ and ‘Ordination’ are also of significant account. The thesis is divided into two parts because the Vulgate contexts demonstrate considerable pertinence both to the poem’s structure and interpretation. Part one covers structure: chapter one surveys the history of PPl criticism on the Bible; chapter two, L’s Bible use. Chapter three covers how L considers ‘Truth’ contextually through sequential quotations in the first quarter of PPl. Part two deals with interpretation, and examines how L employs Bible frames of reference to explore two sacraments: Baptism (chapter four), waymarks for Baptism (chapter five) and Ordination (chapter six). Without knowledge of the biblical contexts, the subtlety of the poem and its inherent polemic recedes. This thesis argues that the contexts of the biblical quotations are of substantial consequence to a re-alignment of PPl study. Perhaps of greater significance than the Bible quotation itself, the whole biblical experience forms the poem. L’s knowledge of the Bible was immense and trustworthy: it gives PPl voice. L assumes a wide and detailed knowledge from his audience: as with the use of etcetera after the Bible quotations, the mind is triggered by numerous waymarks such as ‘Marc meneþ in þe Gospel’ which work to guide and reassure, to confirm the pathway towards the Kingdom of God. Medieval Christian life and L’s use of Bible contexts are fundamental to this thesis’s argument. (GLB)


unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Cardiff, 2011


Blick, Gail Lesley