Jane Beal - Glossator

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Jane Beal - Glossator

Transcript Of Jane Beal - Glossator

Jane Beal
Near the conclusion of part XIII of Pearl, the Dreamer asks the PearlMaiden, “Quat kyn þyng may be þat Lambe / Þat þe wolde wedde vnto hys vyf?” (ll. 771-72) [What kind of thing may be that Lamb / that he would wed you as his wife?]. The Dreamer follows this question with an objection to her claim, as he understands it, to be the only bride of Christ – over all other women, however beautiful or virtuous they may have been in life. The Pearl-Maiden answers by clarifying the communal inclusivity of her spiritual marriage to Christ, alluding to John’s spiritual vision of the New Jerusalem, and remembering the Crucifixion itself. Her answer, which makes up all of part XIV of Pearl, emphasizes the symbolic representation of Christ as Lamb and the theme of redemption made possible through Christ’s death. Although the Dreamer’s question appears to be motivated by an earthly jealousy, the Pearl-Maiden attempts to lift his understanding into a heavenly realm. Her words specifically foreshadow the vision the Dreamer will experience of the New Jerusalem and the bleeding Lamb later in the poem. Her explanation acts as both invitation and preparation, not only for the Dreamer, but also for the readers of Pearl.
The five stanzas of part XIV of Pearl can be read in relation to their literary and cultural contexts. To facilitate deeper understanding of the Pearl-Maiden’s speech in these stanzas, this essay considers the complex interweaving of such important Christian theological ideas as the Bride of Christ, the Lamb of God, and the Crucifixion of Jesus as well as the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Christ and the Revelation of John regarding the Lamb on the throne at the time of the Last Judgment. Although the Dreamer’s sorrow has complicated and challenged his prior understanding of his Catholic faith, the Pearl-Maiden’s reminders of heaven, which she further develops in part XV, awaken in him a desire to enter heavenly places. Admittedly, at this stage in his spiritual journey, the Dreamer’s primary desire is to go up in order

to be with her, the young woman he loved and lost,1 but his heart is also slowly awakening to a desire to be with Christ.
Bride of Christ The Pearl-Maiden first revealed her spiritual marriage to Christ
to the Dreamer at the end of part VII of Pearl: “I watȝ ful ȝong and tender of age / Bot my Lorde þe Lombe þurȝ hys godhede, / He toke myself to hys maryage . . . I am holy hysse” (l. 412-14, 418) [I was very young and of tender age / But my Lord the Lamb through his divinity / took me to himself in marriage … I am wholly his]. She affirms this again in part XIII, when she declares: “My makeleȝ Lambe þat al may bete,” / Quod scho, “my dere destyné, / Me ches to hys make” (“My matchless Lamb who beats out all,” / said she, “my dear destiny, chose me as his mate”) (l. 757-59). She asserts her marriage for a third time in the first stanza of part XIV, this time explaining that she is not the Lamb’s only wife (rather, she is one part of the corporate bride of Christ). In so saying, she alludes to Revelation 21 directly, which describes the New Jerusalem as a bride:
“Maskelles,” quod þat myry quene, “Vnblemyst I am, wythouten blot, And þat may I wyth mensk menteene; Bot ‘makeleȝ quene’ þenne sade I not. Þe Lambes vyueȝ in blysse we bene, A hondred and forty [fowre] þowsande flot, As in þe Apocalyppeȝ hit is sene; Sant John hem syȝ al in a knot. On þe hyl of Syon, þat semly clot, Þe apostel hem segh in gostly drem Arayed to þe weddyng in þat hyl-coppe, Þe nwe cyté o Jerusalem. (l. 781-92)
[“Flawless,” said that merry queen, “unblemished am I, without spot,
1 On the nature of the relationship between the Pearl-Maiden and the Dreamer, see Jane Beal, “The Pearl-Maiden’s Two Lovers,” Studies in Philology 100:1 (Winter 2003): 1-21.Available at http://muse.jhu.edu/ journals/sip/summary/v100/100.1beal.html.

and that may I in humility maintain. But ‘matchless queen’ I did not say. The Lamb’s wives in bliss we are, 14[4],000 in company, as is seen in the Apocalypse: St. John saw them all together. On the hill of Zion, that seemly group, the apostle saw in a spiritual dream, arrayed for the wedding on that hilltop, the new city of Jerusalem.”]
As in part VII, so in part XIII and here: in each instance in which the Pearl-Maiden claims to be married to Christ, the Dreamer has difficulty understanding and accepting the reality of her new marital status. It is as if he does not know, cannot remember, or is actively denying, because of his grief over the Pearl-Maiden’s loss, what contemporary medieval readers might expect him to know as a Christian about the Bride of Christ, the sponsa Christi of Christian theology, from the Bible, the exegesis of Church Fathers, and the tradition of Catholic contemplative spirituality.
The tradition of imagining spiritual marriage to Christ in the Middle Ages has its roots in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament.2 It was developed within the early church, particularly by the example of Augustine and the theory of sexual hierarchy articulated by Jerome in Against Jovinian, which emphasized the chaste ideal in a sexually immoral world; it was further emphasized in medieval virgin martyr legends.3 Allegorical
2 For direct Old Testament references to God as Bridegroom and Israel as Bride, see, for example, Isaiah 54 and 62, Ezekiel 16, and Hosea 1-3. For New Testament references to Christ as the Bridegroom, see how Jesus is depicted as referring to himself as such in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34), the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), John the Baptist’s recognition of Jesus as the bridegroom (John 3:27-30), the apostle Paul’s allegorical meditation on marriage, especially as it is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:21-32), and Revelation 21. 3 In the tenth century, Hrotsvita of Gandersheim would write a number of plays celebrating the same plot: virgins resist attacks on their purity by vile men and are, miraculously, preserved in both life and chastity with the consequence that the men are frequently converted to Christianity (though often only after first being made to look ridiculous). As Karen A. Winstead

commentaries on the Song of Songs, beginning with Origen in the second century, infused Christian contemplation with a sensual and passionate language for imagining the soul’s union with the divine.4 By the twelfth century, Bernard of Clairvaux could celebrate the spiritual marriage of the soul to Christ extravagantly in his sermons on the Song of Songs without objection from his monastic audience to any conflict between the literal and spiritual sense of his text.
Bernard of Clairvaux, in his second sermon on the Song of Songs, provides an allegorical exegesis of the kiss mentioned in the first verse of that great epithalamion, which shows a clear set of connections, a continuum of relation, between lectio divina,5 meditation on the senses of scripture, experiences of contemplative prayer, and the desire to pass through the stages of purgation and illumination to unification with God:
All the prophets are empty to me. But he, he of whom they speak, let him speak to me. Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth . . . His living and effective word is a kiss; not a meeting of lips which can sometimes be deceptive about the state of the heart, but a full infusion of joys, a revelation of secrets, a wonderful and inseparable mingling of the light from above in the mind on which it is shed, which, when it is joined with God, is one spirit with him … O happy kiss, and wonder of amazing self-
has shown in her anthology, Chaste Passions: Medieval English Virgin Martyr Legends (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), the stories of virgin martyrs had wide currency in England between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, with such famous saints as St. Lucy, St. Cecilia, St. Margaret, St. Agnes, and St. Katherine being just a few of those that were well-known. The Pearl-Maiden has been compared to at least one of these virgin martyrs, St. Margaret. See James Earl, “Saint Margaret and the Pearl Maiden,” Modern Philology 70 (1972): 1-8. 4 See E. Ann Matter, The Voice of my Beloved: The Song of Songs in Western Medieval Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992) and Ann Astell, The Song of Songs in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995). 5 Divine reading is discussed in further detail in the section of this essay focused on the Revelation of John (below).

humbling which is not a mere meeting of lips, but the union of God with man!6
In these words, Bernard reveals his own extensive practice of lectio divina, his own meditation on Scripture, and through his allegorical exegesis of the Song of Songs, shows how it led to an understanding of intimate, contemplative prayer—in which he could hear the voice of God—and the “kiss” experienced in this state that leads to the union of God with man.
Similarly to Bernard of Clairvaux, many medieval Christian women left written records that show that their own contemplative prayer life led, in a striking number of cases, to distinctive visions of their souls being married to Christ. Contemplative women who recorded their experiences of spiritual marriage include Angela of Foligno, Catherine of Siena, Birgitta of Sweden, Margery Kempe, and Teresa of Avila, among others.7 While their spiritual visions met with a mixed reception by their contemporaries, rarely were they dismissed as heretical or unorthodox by the Church because of a clear tradition establishing precedent for their visions in scripture and church exegetical tradition.
Spiritual devotion to Jesus, and visionary experiences of spiritual marriage to him in prayer, can better be understood as part of the overall movement of affective piety in the Church in the later Middle Ages. Affective piety was the compassionate, co-identifying,
6 Bernard of Clairvaux, Selected Works, trans. and forward by G.R. Evans, introduction by Jean LeClercq, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), 216-17. 7 For discussion of this phenomenon in cultural context, see Bernard McGinn, The Flowering of Mysticism, 1250-1350 (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998), the third volume in his series on the Presence of God; R. N. Swanson, Religion and Devotion in Europe, c. 1215-c.1515 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1995, rprt. 1997), esp. chap. 5 “Devotion”; Monica Furlong, Visions and Longings: Medieval Women Mystics (Boston: Shambala, 1997); Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff, ed., Body and Soul: Essays on Medieval Women and Mysticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), and Steven Fanning, Mystics of the Christian Tradition (London: Routledge Press, 2001), esp. chap. 4 “The Western Church in the Middle Ages.” For a discussion of spiritual marriage in another late-medieval, West Midlands text, see Heather Reid, “Female Initiation Rites and Women Visionaries: Mystical Marriage in the Middle English Translation of ‘The Storie of Asneth,’” in Women and the Divine in Literature Before 1700, ed. Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (Victoria: University of Victoria, 2009), 137-152.

emotional response of believing Christians to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross, which, through scripted (and unscripted) prayers, hymns and lyrics, as well as interpretations of Augustine’s writings and applications of Franciscan theology, encouraged contemplatives to imagine themselves beside Mary, the weeping mother of Jesus, at the foot of the Cross.8 As Sarah McNamer has argued, late medieval meditations on the Passion are “richly emotional, script-like texts that ask their readers to imagine themselves present at scenes of Christ’s suffering and to perform compassion for that suffering victim in a private drama of the heart.”9 McNamer sees this as a specifically historical and gendered experience of believing women, devoted to the suffering humanity of Christ, one in which loving and being loved by God was experienced not as a theological concept, but a lived reality.
Pearl aligns with this understanding of the gendered experience affective piety, with the female Pearl-Maiden showing a greater ability to meditate on Christ’s Passion as well as, ultimately, to enter into a spiritual marriage with Christ,10 experiences which are denied the male Dreamer, at least temporarily. (Of course, it must be acknowledged that the Pearl-Maiden is represented in the poem not only as a real person, infinitely precious to the Dreamer’s limited
8 See Rachel Fulton, From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Jesus and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). 9 Sarah McNamer, Affective Piety and the Invention of Medieval Compassion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 1. Two related studies relevant for consideration of Pearl in the context of late-medieval contemplative devotion are Barbara Newman, “What Did It Mean to Say “I Saw”? The Clash between Theory and Practice in Medieval Visionary Culture,” Speculum 80 (2005): 1-43 and Seeta Chagnati, The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary: Enshrinement, Inscription, Performance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), esp. chap. 4, “Enshrining Form: Pearl as Inscriptional Object and Devotional Event.” 10 It is worth noting that while most literary scholars see the Pearl-Maiden’s loss as her death, one scholar has argued that her loss represents her enclosure in the religious life. See Lynn Staley, “Pearl and the Contingencies of Love and Piety,” in Medieval Literature and Historical Inquiry: Essays in Honor of Derek Pearsall, ed. David Aers (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2000), 8311. In this case, when the Dreamer sees the Pearl-Maiden and hears her description of spiritual marriage, it follows that her spiritual marriage could equally well be before death in visionary contemplation. However, most medieval Christians expected to enter into the wedding feast of the Lamb, promised in Revelation, after their death, not before.

perceptions, but also, simultaneously, as an allegorical figure of multivalent meaning appearing for the edification of readers.) More importantly, these studies (noted above) show that spiritual devotion to Jesus, the suffering Christ on the Cross, was closely related to the contemplative journey into God and unification with the divine imagined as spiritual marriage. Thus it should come as no surprise that the Pearl-Maiden’s revelation of her spiritual marriage to Christ is intimately connected to her highly imagistic, even visionary meditations on his Passion.
Lamb of God In the second stanza of part XIV, the Pearl-Maiden reveals that
she will meditate on Jerusalem. She has already spoken, in the first stanza, of the “nwe cyté o Jerusalem” (l. 792), the heavenly Jerusalem, an allusion to Revelation 21. Now she will speak of the historical Jerusalem. In so doing, she participates in a tradition of contemplative meditation on scripture and erudite Christian commentary on it, especially Augustine’s well-known De Civitate Dei (The City of God), which contrasts Rome and Jerusalem, meditating on both the historical and the heavenly Jerusalem in the process.11
“Of Jerusalem I in speche spelle. If þou wyl knaw what kyn he be, My Lombe, my Lorde, my dere Juelle, My Ioy, my Blys, my Lemman fre, Þe profete Ysaye of hym con melle Pitously of hys debonerté: ‘Þat gloryous gyltleȝ þat mon con quelle Wythouten any sake of felonye, As a schep to þe slaȝt þer lad watȝ he; And, as lombe þat clypper in hande nem, So closed he hys mouth fro vch query, Quen Jueȝ hym iugged in Jerusalem.’ (l. 793-804)
11 Revelation 21 relates to Ezekiel 40:1-4 and 48:35, which similarly prophesies the coming of the New Jerusalem. In De Civitate Dei 20.19.17, Augustine gives commentary on the New Jerusalem, calling it the visio pacis (“vision of peace”) for all Christian pilgrims. For further detail, see the entry on the “New Jerusalem” in A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, ed. David Lyle Jeffrey (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992), 546-48.

[“Of Jerusalem I will speak a while. If you will know what kind he is – my Lamb, my Lord, my dear Jewel, my Joy, my Bliss, my generous Love – the prophet Isaiah spoke of him, compassionately of his graciousness: “That glorious Guiltless One that men quelled without any justification of felony: like a sheep to the slaughter he was led there, and, as a lamb that is taken in hand to be shorn, so he closed his mouth to each question,” when the Jews judged him in Jerusalem.”]
Though the Pearl-Maiden says she will speak of Jerusalem (and indeed she does), her focus now is specifically on the death of the Messiah, which Isaiah predicted, that took place in this historical Jerusalem. But before she gives a paraphrase of Isaiah 53:7, she multiplies her love-names for her Bridegroom: “My Lombe, my Lorde, my dere Juelle, / My Ioy, my Blys, my Lemman fre.” Notably, the first is “My Lombe.”
The title agnus Dei, or Lamb of God, originates in John’s Gospel, which depicts the moment when John the Baptist sees his cousin Jesus coming down to the Jordan to be baptized and declares: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”12 This title, “Lamb of God,” is used a second time in the gospel (John 1:36). Later, John’s Revelation expounds upon the evocatively imagistic connection between Christ and the Lamb, referring more than twenty-five times to the Lamb, though this Lamb of Revelation has lion-like qualities and sits enthroned at the Last Judgment.13
The identification of Jesus with the Lamb in the New Testament draws on the Jewish tradition of the Paschal Lamb. Jewish Law (torah) required that the lamb be a one-year old male lamb, without flaw, defect or blemish, offered as a sacrifice on Passover.
12 John 1:29. In the final stanza of part XIV, the Pearl-Maiden will directly allude to this moment. 13 For discussion of Christ as Lamb, see Robert C. Neville, Symbols of Jesus: A Christology of Symbolic Engagement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), esp. Ch. 2 “Jesus the Lamb: Blood Sacrifice and Atonement,” 60-92. See also Andreas J. Kostenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Lion and the Lamb: New Testament Essentials from the Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Nashville, Tenn: B&H Academic, 2012).

Passover, the high holy day that commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people under the leadership of Moses from slavery in Egypt;14 it was the feast being celebrated in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus. Pearl, which scholars have sometimes associated with the Advent or Christmas season, actually uses Paschal (Easter) imagery predominantly.15
The image of the Lamb is central to the Christian liturgy of Easter, but the association of it is linked to the Jewish prophecy of Isaiah from the Old Testament that the Pearl-Maiden paraphrases: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”16 Christian tradition ties this passage to those moments in the Gospels during the trial of Jesus when he was silent in the face of accusation (Matt. 26:43, Mark 14:61, Luke 22:67).
The image of Jesus as the Lamb is present not only in biblical, literary, and liturgical traditions, but also in visual ones, for it was widely reproduced in medieval art in manuscripts, stained glass windows, and architectural carving as well as other media. Indeed, some literary scholars have argued that it is likely that the Pearl-Poet had seen and meditated deeply on the images of the agnus Dei and that these images, not scripture alone, directly influenced the imagery of Pearl.17
14 For further detail on Christian understanding and incorporation of Passover in the liturgy of the Church, see Illuminating Moses: A History of Reception from Exodus to the Renaissance, ed. Jane Beal (Leiden: Brill, 2014), esp. Ch. 5, “Moses and the Paschal Liturgy,” by Luciana Cuppo-Czaki. Illuminating Moses also expounds on the relationship between Moses and Jesus, who was regarded by Christians as a “second Moses.” 15 For discussion of the Easter season in relation to the symbolism of the poem, see Jane Beal, “The Signifying Power of Pearl,” Quidditas: The Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval Association 33 (2012), 27-58. 16 Isaiah 53:7. 17 See Rosalind Field, “The Heavenly Jerusalem in Pearl,” Modern Language Review 81 (1985): 7-17; Muriel Whitaker, “‘Pearl’ and Some Illustrated Apocalypse Manuscripts,” Viator (1981): 183-96; and Nancy Ciccione, “Pearl and the Bleeding Lamb,” Approaches to Teaching the Middle English Pearl, ed. Jane Beal and Mark Bradshaw Busbee (New York: MLA, forthcoming). A particularly striking image from a related medium comes from a panel of the Ghent altarpiece (1432 AD). Whitaker and Ciccione both note that the manuscript illustrations depicting a bleeding agnus Dei, as the poem Pearl does (l. 1135-36), are comparatively rare.

Crucifixion of Jesus The Pearl-Maiden refers to Jesus as both her Lamb and her
“lemman,” which in Middle English means “lover.”18 The intimacy of the Pearl-Maiden’s relationship to Christ, as his Bride, is signaled by the word “lemman,” but Christ’s role as lover is directly linked to Christ’s fulfillment of the role of the unblemished Lamb of God. This can be seen earlier in the poem when the Pearl-Maiden first describes her spiritual marriage. The Lamb first calls her “my lemman swete” (l. 763), and then washes her clothes in his blood (l. 766), an image with its source in Revelation 12:11. In both Revelation and Pearl, the blood of the Lamb represents the blood Christ shed on the Cross. For in Christian theology, the suffering and death of Christ, endured at the Crucifixion in order to provide an atoning sacrifice for sin, unites fallen humanity to a pure and perfect God: it is what makes the Pearl-Maiden’s marriage possible; it is the ultimate revelation of Christ’s love.
It should therefore come as no surprise that in the third stanza of part XIV, the Pearl-Maiden describes Christ’s Crucifixion.
“In Jerusalem watȝ my lemman slayn And rent on rode wyth boyeȝ bolde. Al oure baleȝ to bere ful bayn, He toke on hymself oure careȝ colde. Wyth boffeteȝ watȝ hys face flayn Þat watȝ so fayr on to byholde. For synne he set hymself in vayn, Þat neuer hade non hymself to wolde.
18 See Middle English Dictionary, s.v. “lemman,” http://quod.lib.umich.edu /m/med/.