Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This dissertation takes up the question of John Wyclif's doctrine of the Eucharist in light of his understanding of Scripture. Specifically, the dissertation considers Wyclif's Confessio of May 10, 1381, in which he responded to the condemnation of his eucharistic doctrine by a council convened by the chancellor of Oxford University. An effort is made in this study to understand the concerns which were foremost in Wyclif's mind as he rejected what was the standard scholastic definition of the Eucharist in his day, the doctrine of transubstantiation. Though marking the end of Wyclif's career at Oxford, the Confessio has received little attention since it is considered for the most part, to the extent that it is even spoken of at all, as no more than a concise summation of longer, more famous works. In fact, the Confessio is a scholarly response to specific charges and must be read in that light. This study offers a picture of a figure who was very much part of the Medieval Catholic tradition of biblical interpretation and metaphysical thought which formed the basis of his eucharistic theology, itself an affirmation of the real presence of Christ. Here, avenues are sought for examining Wyclif's eucharistic theology which have not been fully explored. This consists in taking up the question of Wyclif's eucharistic theology in light of his interpretation of Scripture, one which emphasizes authorial intention and places Christ at its center. The study also seeks to locate Wyclif's theology of the Eucharist in relation to the entire Medieval eucharistic tradition, concerned especially with the way in which the matter of authorial intention had been applied to Christ's words Hoc est corpus meum. Wyclif's theology of the Eucharist is placed in the context of fourteenth-century, logical-grammatical methods applied to Scripture, as well the scepticism of the fourteenth-century schools to which Wyclif reacted with his assertion of the larger themes of the Medieval Catholic tradition. If this study is successful, a greater appreciation for John Wyclif the Medieval Catholic theologian may be fostered.



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