Title Background

Will’s Pilgrimage in <i>Piers Plowman</i> B.

Will’s Pilgrimage in Piers Plowman B.

Traces the spiritual progress of Will in recovering the image of God in man to the Epistle of James, the Glossa ordinaria, and Augustine’s Enarrationes in Psalmos. B.15.161-62a evoke, besides the famous image of I Cor. 13:12, James 1:23-24; Will, not yet a “doer” of God’s word, fails to recognize both himself and his maker in his looking glass. The Glossa ordinaria on Luke 24:31-32 likewise emphasizes doing, rather than merely hearing the Law; and Will approaches knowledge of Truth through the same figure of the breaking of bread. The mistranslation of B. 10. 3 64 (mechaberis for occides) shows that WL, like James, emphasizes God’s mercy for those who have shown mercy. Similarly, Will’s misquotation in B. 10.450, 452a emphasizes the fact that Will has obscured the teaching that learning without charity is profitless. Will’s sojourn in “the lond of longynge and love” (B. 11.8) is informed by Augustine’s understanding of the parable of the Prodigal Son as a separation from God; Augustine’s Enarrationes in Psalmos, like James’s epistle, exhorts us to active love. Returning from this exile, Will is sustained by Patience’s citation of fiat voluntas tua, a sign that Will is conforming himself to God’s will. He comes to recognize the Old Adam within himself in recognizing the consequences of his pride and curiosity under Piers’s apple tree. What he did not learn from Scripture and Clergy, because he was merely curious, he learns “bi his werkes” of God’s love from the Samaritan, a figure identified with Christ.