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English Wyclif Tracts 1-3.

The three English tracts here edited are those known from their manuscript colophons as De Officio Pastoralis, De Papa and The Church and its Menthers. The first two survive in only a single copy (now Manchester, John Rylands University Library, MS English 86) and were printed by F. D. Matthew in his EETS volume in 1880; the third is now known in five copies, and was printed from the same base-text as the present edition (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 788) by T. Arnold in 1871. No concessions are made in the new edition to the modern reader: the print keeps as closely as possible to mediaeval punctuation, capitalization and even lineation; no emendations are introduced into the text. The text, as would be expected from Professor Lindberg's previous editions of Wycliffite materials, is very accurate. But the restriction of the notes to |linguistic comments' is so austele as to hinder the understanding of the texts: for example, De Papa, ch. vii, lines 65-5 states that |cardenals ben an herre to pe fendis hous', but though the glossary correctly interprets herre as |hinge', the note enigmatically observes |this seems to be a play on words, both nouns involved being ambiguous and, so to speak, interlocked' (p. 176) - the modern reader might be reminded of the rare Latin sense of cardinalis |pertaining to a door hinge', recalled by mediaeval satirical writers as the root of ecclesiastical usage of the term, as here and in Piers Plowman, B Prologue, 104.

Lindberg's real interest in these texts is declaredly not the subject-matter: he has long maintained that some of the surviving English works that more timid critics describe as Wycliffite or Lollard are in fact from the pen of the heresiarch Wyclif himself. Although Lindberg's claims may not have found general assent, it seems a pity that this volume should not set out the evidence in full but should refer the reader to two Festschrift papers (where too the argument does not go back to first principles). The rather apologetic perfunctoriness in the whole presentation is regrettable; a new edition of these texts is indeed a worthwhile enterprise, but more is needed than is provided here.
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Author:Hudson, Anne
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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