Academic journal article The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History

Pseudo-Hildegard's Anti-Mendicant Prophecy in Columbia University Plimpton Add. MS 3

Academic journal article The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History

Pseudo-Hildegard's Anti-Mendicant Prophecy in Columbia University Plimpton Add. MS 3

Article excerpt

New York, Columbia University Plimpton Additional MS 3 contains in the main an intriguing transitional Early Version of the Wycliffite New Testament, the subject of a recent study (published in this journal) by Matti Peikola. (1) For Peikola, the manuscript's Bible text is textually noteworthy for its shift from the Early Version (EV) to Late Version (LV). Scribe C (in Peikola's reckoning) copied partway through a textually corrupt EV Prologue to Luke, which was then cancelled (f. 55r-v). Scribe D began again at the Prologue to Luke with a new LV exemplar, one written in single rather than double columns (f. 56). The format shifts to double columns again with the Pauline epistles (f. 105), then back to single columns at the top of a leaf in Romans 12 (f. 113v) and so continuing until the end of the epistle of Jude (f. 202). A new exemplar was found for the Apocalypse, taken not from the LV but from the Middle English version translated from an Anglo-Norman glossed apocalypse. (2)

There is one further textual and scribal complication at this juncture in the Plimpton MS not noted by Peikola. The Anglo-Norman based glossed Apocalypse (Va) begins a new gathering with its prologue written on folio 203r-v. (3) The same hand skips to folio 204v, starting partway into the text (in the gloss for verse 16), with the words "vices & of synne," (4) leaving a space of one page (folio 204r), probably to make up for a fault in its exemplar. On folio 204r, Scribe H (in Peikola's reckoning) (5) fills in the gap; the leaf has been ruled quite visibly and with smaller line spacing for about 46 lines rather than 32. The scribe copies the beginning of what should be Va but starts instead with verses 1-8 of the Apocalypse in the LV version. As Fridner notes, those verses are usually omitted from Va (e.g., in his base MS Harley 874) because its prologue "is partly a paraphrase" of the verses (xxiv). A few manuscripts of Va, however, notably MSS R (BL Royal 17.A.xxvi) and Ry (Manchester Rylands Library MS 92), add verses 1-8 from LV, and their first group of text verses (9-11) are also taken from LV. (6) In the Plimpton MS, folio 204r, Apocalypse verses 1.1-11 are first given from LV, followed by their gloss from Va, then verses 12-16 from LV, followed by (about half) the Va gloss for verse 16. The scribe of folio 204r of the Plimpton MS must have turned to a manuscript of the textual type of MS R to fill in the gap left by the scribe of folios 203r-v and 204v-237. MS R is also the only MS known to Fridner to have added the words "seuene si3tis" at the end of its prologue (after "vnderstonden and tellen"). (7) Fridner did not know the Plimpton MS, which also adds "seuene sizztis," in a smaller script below the end of its prologue on folio 203v. (8)

As Peikola notes, (9) Plimpton Add. MS 3 is also noteworthy for its accompanying Wycliffite texts, including on folios 238r-240r a Lollard Chronicle, (10) followed by on folios 240r-241r an apparently unique Middle English translation of a Latin anti-mendicant prophecy attributed (apocryphally) to Hildegard of Bingen. The reception in medieval England of this prophecy (known by its Latin incipit as the "Insurgent gentes") has been outlined by Penn Szittya, with reference to anti-mendicant literature, and by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton as part of "Hildegardiana" more generally. (11) The opening line of "Insurgent gentes" paraphrases the Biblical prophecy in Osee (Hosea) 4:8, which reads "insurgent gentes quae peccata populi mei comedent." In his Vox clamantis, Gower quotes Hosea 4:8 and explains that the friars have fulfilled its prophecy:

   O how the words of the prophet Hosea are now verified!
   Thus did he speak the truth: "A certain tribe will arise on
   earth which will eat up the sins of my people and know much
   evil." We perceive that this prophecy has come about in our
   day, and we give credit for this to the friars.

Since the "Insurgent gentes" makes this same connection, it seems likely that Gower knew the work. …

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