Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 May 2014
The idea for this essay came about as a natural outcome of the codicological research undertaken on Nicholas Love's Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ as part of a three-year project entitled ‘Geographies of Orthodoxy: Mapping English Pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ, 1350–1550’. The project included a cultural mapping exercise that engaged us in examining just about 100 latemedieval English manuscripts containing Middle English material derived ultimately from the Latin Meditationes Vitae Christi. The Meditationes is a work dating from some time in the fourteenth century (the dating is problematic) and was widely, but wrongly, attributed to St Bonaventure throughout the later Middle Ages. As such, it enjoyed multiple rewritings and wide transmission in later Latin and vernacular versions across pre-Reformation Europe. The extant manuscripts and texts we examined and described on the ‘Geographies’ project offered us an outstanding opportunity to reflect on the kinds of medieval English textual afterlives these vernacular versions represented for the Latin meditative tradition with a Franciscan colouring that prompted the composition of the Meditationes. In terms of both our methodological and technological approach to the project, we wanted to produce a dynamic, and at times multidimensional, account of the transmission and reception of the relevant extant English manuscripts. This account would not focus exclusively on either stemmatic analyses of individual texts or the textual interrelationship of different versions (although both types of evidence play an important part), but would also include the other forms of clustering that the extant manuscripts and texts represent.