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  • A Companion to John Wyclif, Late Medieval Theologian
  • G. R. Evans
A Companion to John Wyclif, Late Medieval Theologian. Edited by Ian Christopher Levy. [Brill's Companions to the Christian Tradition, Vol. 4] (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. 2006. Pp. xii, 489. €95, $124.00.)

The introduction stresses that this is intended to be a handbook for students of John Wyclif himself, rather than for those interested in what should more properly be called an aftermath than a legacy (for little of what Wyclif became famous for truly reflected his work and much of what he cared about and strove for ceased to be interesting to others after his own death).

The first contribution, by Andrew E. Larsen, covers Wyclif's life and the Oxford of his day. The section on Oxford is comparatively slight; that is a pity, because the academic context in which Wyclif worked did a great deal to shape what he said and how he said it. What is now known about that world is capable of transforming our understanding of Wyclif's intellectual development.

Alessandro D. Conti writes on "Wyclif's Logic and Metaphysics"; these technical areas are clearly described, though the author perhaps gives Wyclif credit for more originality than he deserves. Wyclif's Trinitarian and Christological theology are discussed by Stephen Lahey, who takes time to struggle with the question how far Wyclif envisaged his work as portions of a commentary on the Sentences and how far he was writing monographs.

Takashi Shogimen covers Wyclif's ecclesiology and political thought,which it is sensible to treat as a continuum; the way Wyclif handled the relationship of the two was largely responsible for his early reputation as a dangerous dissident." Wyclif and the sacraments" are discussed by Stephen Penn, with an emphasis on the importance of these areas of his teaching and writing in bringing him into disfavor as a heretic.

The editor himself writes on "Wyclif and the Christian Life," which special reference to Wyclif's hostility to the friars, their ideas of the way a Christian should live, and their assumption that they are special. Mary Dove discusses "Wyclif and the English Bible"in an essay which is useful on its topic but a little disappointing on the wider questions of Wyclif's ideas about exegesis, and "Scripture" in general. The homiletic aspects (preaching as exegesis) are partly covered in the previous contribution. In a concluding paper, Mishtooni Bose discusses "the opponents" of Wyclif, concentrating on the story of the fierce campaign to discredit him after his death. [End Page 345]

There are, perhaps inevitably, gaps in this excellent handbook and emphases which might be challenged. But it is an invaluable addition to the modern literature and should succeed in its objective of encouraging further study in each of the areas of Wyclif's life and work with which it is concerned.

The Companion relies largely on Williel Thomson's The Latin Writings, published in 1983, though recent queries about some of Thomson's dating are noted. [End Page 346]

G. R. Evans
University of Cambridge


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