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Chapter 7 - The Re-cognition of Doctrinal Discourse and Scholastic Literary Theory

Affordances of Ordinatio in Reginald Pecock’s Donet and Reule of Crysten Religioun

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2023

Ardis Butterfield
Affiliation:
Yale University
Ian Johnson
Affiliation:
St Andrews University
Andrew Kraebel
Affiliation:
Trinity University
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Summary

This essay aims to show how one remarkable practitioner of vernacular scholastic literary theory, Reginald Pecock (d. c. 1361), Bishop of Chichester, deployed it to service diverse orders of worth in his works by at once upending and apparently re-accepting authorised ecclesiastical discourses, including the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and orthodox definitions of God as creator or as infinite. Focusing especially on the theoretical category of ordinatio, it investigates how Pecock both upsets and re-accommodates such discourses in places where the articulation and control of spiritual authority in this world and the tapping of divine authority from the next were at stake. In both his rejection of standard doctrinal discourses and his (re)accommodation of them in his own new system, Reginald deploys a full repertoire of scholastic terms, practices and attitudes. Pecock’s novel and astoundingly ambitious reconfiguration of Christian knowledge and doctrine was a gargantuan programme, endeavouring to efface and outdo traditional discourses of the Church whilst at the same time taking pains palpably, even anxiously, to be equivalent or answerable to that which it would displace. Pecock, in attempting re-cognition of the familiar, ended up recognising it dissonantly within his own unfamiliar discourse.

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Literary Theory and Criticism in the Later Middle Ages
Interpretation, Invention, Imagination
, pp. 137 - 158
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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