PATRICIA MARY VINJE, Marquette University


This dissertation investigates the Book of Showings written by Dame Julian of Norwich. The text is based on a series of private revelations which she received in May in 1373. The dissertation focuses on the theme of love which is central to the text. The process of understanding Julian's doctrine of love is not as easy as it may seem. Part of the difficulty arises from the contrast between Julian's theological methodology and contemporary scholarly procedures. Julian's method of teaching sprigs from an apparently simple use of metaphor and imagery, but her deceiving simplicity is one of the most difficult features to surmount in studying her text. As a means of understanding Julian's methodology and terminology this dissertation investigates the historical and religious settings that shaped Julian's intellectual and spiritual growth and the educational resources of her period. The paper also demonstrates the way medieval authors focused on key words and images to develop their doctrine and it explains why the process of understanding Julian's doctrine involves the need to get behind the construct of Julian's words and images. This dissertation, then, bears the hermeneutical responsibility of trying to understand the creative imagination that uses images and allegories to talk about the indescribable relationship between humanity and divinity. It studies the themes of divine homeliness, courtesy and compassion and it looks at the allegory of the lord and the servant and the images of the city of God and the motherhood of Jesus. By means of historical exposition and textual analysis it becomes evident that Julian adapted the methodology of the medieval scripture scholars and developed an original style of lectio divina in the course of reporting on her mystical visions. Once Julian's selection of words and imagery are placed within the framework of the traditional "senses of scripture," it is easier to understand how her colorful description of God's and her detailed elaboration of the divine motherhood motif are creative demonstrations of a development of a precise, Christian doctrine of love.

Recommended Citation

VINJE, PATRICIA MARY, "AN UNDERSTANDING OF LOVE ACCORDING TO THE ANCHORESS JULIAN OF NORWICH" (1982). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8217288.