Conversational Lollardy: Reading the Margins of MS Bodley 978
Oon of Foure
Christian Denominations and Sects
European Languages and Societies
History of Christianity
History of Religion
Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Considers an unusual set of “key-object” annotations, pictorial as well as verbal, that appear in the margins of the Middle English gospel harmony Oon of Foure in Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 978. Argues that the margins of Bodley 978 record a variety of conversations shaped by lollardy. After briefly locating the Bodley manuscript in relation to the larger Oon of Foure tradition, the article proceeds by tracing a set of often-repeated annotative objects across the Bodley margins—key, sword, cross, lantern, heart. Taking these messy and amateurish finding aids seriously as intellectual work, it finds the primary Bodley annotator(s) developing a nuanced response to lollard hermeneutics and ecclesiology. Rather than defending scriptural translation or asserting scriptural authority, the Bodley key-object annotator(s) explore the nature of scriptural signs and track shifting modes of divine communication across the gospel narrative. And rather than directly attack the abuses of the clergy, they explore the nature of works and the uses of power—clerical and lay, human and divine—as they evolve across the unfolding arc of salvation history. Other hands respond variously to this annotative project, sometimes developing and other times critiquing the readings developed by main hand(s)’ key-objects. Lollardy itself emerges from this study, less as a coherent set of doctrines identified by a “sect vocabulary,” and more as a scripturally-grounded language for thinking with, a set of discursive and conceptual resources for entering into conversation on reformist topics in the vernacular.