Revelation and the Apocalypse in Late Medieval Literature

The Writings of Julian of Norwich and William Langland

Author(s) Justin M. Byron-Davies

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism, Religion

Series: Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages

  • February 2020 · 288 pages ·234x156mm

  • · Hardback - 9781786835161
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786835178
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786835185

About The Book

This interdisciplinary book breaks new ground by systematically examining ways in which two of the most important works of late medieval English literature – Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Love and William Langland’s Piers Plowman – arose from engagement with the biblical Apocalypse and exegetical writings. The study contends that the exegetical approach to the Apocalypse is more extensive in Julian’s Revelations and more sophisticated in Langland’s Piers Plowman than previously thought, whether through a primary textual influence or a discernible Joachite influence. The author considers the implications of areas of confluence, which both writers reapply and emphasise – such as spiritual warfare and other salient thematic elements of the Apocalypse, gender issues, and Julian’s explications of her vision of the soul as city of Christ and all believers (the fulcrum of her eschatologically-focused Aristotelian and Augustinian influenced pneumatology). The liberal soteriology implicit in Julian’s ‘Parable of the Lord and the Servant’ is specifically explored in its Johannine and Scotistic Christological emphasis, the absent vision of hell, and the eschatological ‘grete dede’, vis-à-vis a possible critique of the prevalent hermeneutic.



‘This is a most welcome and timely intervention in the field of late medieval visionary literature. With its careful analysis of the Apocalypse’s influence upon William Langland and Julian of Norwich, Byron-Davies makes a strong case for far more widespread apocalyptic concerns imbricating late medieval socio-religious texts and their epistemologies than have hitherto been considered. Linking exegetical tradition with more immediate socio-religious apocalyptic hermeneutics, this book skilfully unpicks the complex entanglement of theology, eschatology, soteriology, textual poetics and gender construction articulated in both subtle and complex ways in the writings under scrutiny.’
-Professor Liz Herbert McAvoy, Swansea University

'Revelation and the Apocalypse offers a substantial contribution to the current understandings of Langland’s temporal world, both soteriological and historical, and also elucidates Julian of Norwich’s theological influences beyond what has been discovered previously. The author offers an original and illuminating mode of reading these texts that will intrigue readers both familiar and unacquainted with Julian and Langland.'
- Review by Hope Doherty in Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Justin M. Byron-Davies

Justin M. Byron-Davies completed his PhD at the University of Surrey, where he worked as an associate tutor in English literature and lectured on late medieval writings. His research interests include medieval theology and anchoritic, revelatory and apocalyptic texts.

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