I was needing to study Hebrew. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whom I was editing for Penguin, had been proficient in Hebrew as a child. At the same time, I was editing the manuscripts of Julian of Norwich in my convent. And I suddenly became aware that often in her texts Julian showed direct knowledge of that language, for instance in not translating * shalom, 'peace, well-being, in all things', 'and all shall be well', as had Jerome, with Latin recte, or Wyclif, with Middle English ri3t, but with 'And all manner of thing shall be well'. I then found other instances, which I discuss later in this talk. I came to suspect that she was of Jewish ancestry but I could not go to Norwich for many years to investigate whether there were conversi to Christianity who remained in that city after King Edward I had banished all Jews from England in 1290. In 2005, I was finally able to sit in Norwich's Library with their copy of V.D. Lipman's The Jews of Medieval Norwich (London: Jewish Historical Society, 1967), in front of me, taking copious notes, particularly on the conversi who remained in England and in Norwich following that expulsion.

I. Norwich's Jewry


*Michael Camille, in The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art (Cambridge: University Press, 1989), pp. 182-185, discusses the political and anti-Semitic cartoon drawn at the head of a 1233 tallage roll in the Public Record Office in London, E 401/1565. It 'playfully', cruelly, presents Isaac of Norwich drawn with three heads, Moses Mokke and the Jewess Arveghaye (Abigail) together with demons by Norwich Castle. Camille's discussion of the drawing is in the context of idolatry. Indeed, the Jews in the major English cities were required to keep the documentation concerning the loans they made, shetar, in archae, chests, punning on the Ark of the Law. Norwich's Cathedral was largely built from such loans. We shall find the same masons' marks on pillars of Isaac's House, the Cathedral Priory's Infirmary, and Carrow Priory.

Norwich, in Julian's day, was the second largest city in England. Its Jewish community was scholarly, prosperous and powerful, though suffering sporadic severe pogroms, especially in 1144 when William of Norwich was found murdered, in 1255 when Hugh of Lincoln was found similarly murdered (whose stories Chaucer has his Prioress retell), until King Edward in 1290 expulsed all Jews from England. But some converted to Christianity and remained, including a few in Norwich. There were 96 such converts, of whom 44 were men and 52 women. One of these, in 1308, too early for our Julian (1342-circa 1416), is even named 'Juliana of Norwich' (Lipman, p. 184).

V.D. Lipman, pp. 95-99, 109, 147, 157, 184, 224, tells us in particular of the Jurnet family, domiciled in Conisford. The founder, Jurnet, who loaned money to Norwich Cathedral Priory, had married a Christian heiress, Miryld or Muriel of Earlham, for which he was fined 6000 marks. Margaret, their daughter, though born of a Christian mother, was a Jewess and could write a shetar or receipt in Hebrew. Their son, Isaac, the wealthiest Jew of the thirteenth century, was caricatured in the tallage roll given above. While another Isaak, known as Hak, also of this family, in 1253, following his imprisonment in the Tower of London, converted to Christianity. This family was noted for its learning and generous patronage, and spoken of as Ha Nadib. Indeed, Norwich, in the thirteenth century, had five or six rabbinical scholars, addressed as 'Master', 'Magister'. Likewise, the women were noted for their literacy. Other Jews than the Jurnets in Norwich lived near the Castle and its market in the Westwick area, and would seek protection under the King in Norwich Castle in times of trouble. I might mention that Joanna Greenberg's first novel, The King's Persons, is a brilliantly researched study of the genocide of the Jews in York, their second largest community in England.

*Jonathan Plunkett has placed his father George Plunkett's photographs of Norwich on the web, http://www.the-plunketts.freeserve.co.uk§, many of these being taken before the war and the bombing that would destroy St Julian's Church. I give, with their consent, the photographs and manually typewritten comments on 'Isaac's Hall or the Music House on King Street', to be found below St Julian's Church and Alley:

. . . At Bury St Edmunds is still to be found the strong Jew’s House known as Moyse’s Hall, and correspondingly the Jew’s House in Norwich is still to be found although greatly disguised by reason of subsequent additions. It is in the parish of St Etheldred, and has been known both as “Paston House ” and “The Music House”. . . . a conjectural drawing of the original Jew’s House . . . exhibits the usual method of entrance to a Norman building which was by a covered staircase leading to a door on the first floor. . . . the Norman groined cellaring (has) the only remaining portion of one side of the entrance door of the Isaac’s Hall, all the rest of the door, porch and staircase having been destroyed when the Jacobean portion of the Music House was erected on the south side. The bases (of this entrance door) have vertical “nicks” about 1½ inches apart inside the concave moulding . . . similar to the three transitional pillars of the old Infirmary of the Norwich Priory . . . the date of these is believed to be between 1175 and 1190.

                                      [ King Street: Isaac’s Hall or the Music House Map ]

*It appears then that the house was built by Isaac the Jew temp. Henry II. On his death it was escheated by King John and alienated in favour of Sir William de Valoines by Henry III. After passing through many hands it was in 1474 the city house of William Yelverton Esq who sold it to Sir John Paston Knt. In 1613 it was purchased by Sir Edward Coke, Recorder of Norwich and Lord Chief Justice. He it was who probably built the 17th century addition to the south, calling it Paston House in memory of his first wife. Finding the old porch in the way, he destroyed all except the fragment shown. The “Music House” was first mentioned in the “Norwich Gazette” of 19th January 1723, the City Waits being accustomed to meet and practice there.” See Ernest A. Kent in “Norfolk Archaeology” Vol 28. 1945


II. Adam, Julian and Judaism

*Bishop Hemming and Birgitta

I came to Julian studies, as it were, through a back door, first working with Birgitta of Sweden whose initial spiritual directors and editors of her Revelationes had been Bishop Hemming of Åbo and Magister Mathias, who had studied Hebrew under the misogynist Jewish convert, Nicholas of Lyra, in Paris, and who translated the Bible for Birgitta from Hebrew into Swedish. Birgitta's canonization was effected by a document written by the Norwich Benedictine who became Cardinal, formerly known as 'Magister' or 'Master' Adam Easton, and who had taught Hebrew at Oxford, and it presents a strong defence of women as prophets, its examples drawn from both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Testament, as well as giving early Christian saints. Paradoxically, for its dialectic, it drew upon the misogynist Nicholas of Lyra's attacks on women, in particular of Marguerite Porete, burned at the stake in 1310 in in the Place de Grève, Paris, for having written the Pseudo-Dionysan Mirror of Simple Souls, along with a relapsed Jewish convert. (Interestingly, Marguerite Porete's condemned Mirror of Simple Souls, now anonymous and in Middle English translation, is in the Amherst Manuscript with Julian's Showing of Love.)

*Adam Easton, a Benedictine at Norwich Cathedral Priory, first studied at Oxford, though was also needed to preach in Norwich. Information on Adam Easton is to be found in Leslie John MacFarlane, 'The Life and Writings of Adam Easton, O.S.B.' (University of London Ph.D. Thesis, 1955), Joan Greatrex, Biographical Register of the English Cathedral Priories of the Province of Canterbury, circa 1066-1540 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), Margaret Harvey, The English in Rome 1362-1420: Portrait of an Expatriate Community (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), and the recent self-published book by Andrew Lee, The Most Ungrateful Englishman: The Life and Times of Adam Easton (2006). Easton was able to return to Oxford, after his stint of dutiful preaching, being Prior of Students there, 20 September 1366. We have a huge bill paid for the shipping by wagon of the manuscripts, 113 shillings and three pence. Julian’s largest legacy, from Isabelle, Countess of Suffolk, was a mere 20 shillings.

*Among his manuscripts was Pseudo-Dionysius’ collected writings copied out at St Victor in Paris, along with a manuscript by Rabbi David Kimhi on Hebrew philology, in Hebrew, the Sepher Miklol, or Book of Perfection, discussing God as Mother, formerly Norwich Cathedral Priory X.CLXXXXII/II, now Cambridge, St John's College, 216 (I.10), and also Easton’s schoolboy manuscripts on time, originally written in Norwich. We learn elsewhere that he also owned Cohen's Hebrew Grammar. Already, at St Victor in Paris, intense study of both Greek and Hebrew texts had been taking place, noted in Beryl Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1978), and Adam Easton’s writings are clearly influenced, as are Julian’s, by such Victorine Greek and Hebrew exegesis early in his career.

Two recent writers on Adam Easton, Margaret Harvey and Andrew Lee, assume that Adam came to Hebrew studies late when serving in the Papal Curia in Avignon and they discuss his assiduous work in translating the whole Bible from Hebrew into Latin, correcting Jerome's version, meeting with four Jewish scholars and a Jewish interpreter for this work. But in his De ecclesiastice potestatis he tells Pope Urban VI that he has already been studying Hebrew for twenty years, dating these studies back to his Oxford days. I believe that they even date back to his childhood. And to Julian's. They were possibly brother and sister.

Adam Easton came back again to Norwich, in 1367-1368, and at the same time that Julian perhaps was writing the Westminster Cathedral Manuscript’s original version at 25, Master Adam Easton returned again to England and Norwich that same year, with a letter from Pope Urban V to Edward III, dated, 3 May 1368. He was back in Avignon in 1369.

*Adam Easton, as with Jerome to Paula and Eustochium, likely shared with Julian his Hebrew lore. This is from an early manuscript from Jumièges showing Jerome and Eustochium working together at translating the Bible, which was to become the conscious and deliberate model for Magister Mathias and Birgitta of Sweden, then later her partnership with the Hieronomyte Hermit Bishop Alfonso of Jaén. Birgitta even travelled in her seventieth year to Jerusalem and to Bethlehem (House of Bread), seeing there her vision of the Nativity, and in the next cave where Jerome, Paula and Eustochium worked together translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into the Latin Vulgate.



Julian begins her Westminster Manuscript Showing with the same reverencing of the about to be born and then just born Child as had had Birgitta in her vision.
There is a strong possibility that Julian had heard Adam Easton preach at a time when he was studying and translating Isaiah, and making use of Rabbi David Kimhi’s brilliant commentaries on Isaiah and on the Psalms, for Julian not only uses the servant Messiah passages from Isaiah 52-53, she also incorporates into the Showing of Love the Isaiah 30.15 passage on restlessness and rest that Augustine before her and Herbert after her so treasured, the Isaiah 40.12 passage on God’s holding the waters of his Creation in the hollow of his hand, the passages in Isaiah 49.15 and 66.13 where God compares himself to a mother who loves her child, as well as using Psalms 110.1 and 119.73, and perhaps the Isaiah 2.10 passage on being hidden in a ditch, in the Vulgate, ‘abscondere in fossa humo’.

IIa. Sacred Alphabet

*Hebrew has the letter that begins God’s name, and Jerusalem’s and Judea’s and Joshua’s and Jesus’s and Julian’s, be the smallest one of all, and be the letter that means ‘hand’, yod. And another letter means the palm of one’s hand, kaph. The first Jewish prayer that Mary would have taught Jesus was 'Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit',

and which he last utters on the Cross in Mary's hearing.

There are two kinds of mysticism, the Greek, derived in turn from the East, from India by way of Syria, which desires abstraction, imagelessness, which is called apophatic, and which is attained by kenosis, by emptying oneself, stripping away all to become detached from this world and time, and thus attain the 'Cloud of Unknowing', especially espoused by Pseudo-Dionysius. There is another, the Hebraic, which excessively overdoes itself when becoming the Kabbalah, but which naturally sees God as creating us marvellously by his Word, all that is created being so created by a sacred alphabet, the Atomic Chart of Elements, our genetic coding, the Fibonacci curves of natural forms, the functioning of the brain in tandem, in synapses, with the hand, the eye, which is tangible, concrete. Gershom Scholem notes that in the Kabbalah 'haskel' or 'heskel' (Jeremiah 9.23), is the infinitive form of 'sekhel' or nous, thinking with God alone, being noughted but for God, in relation to 'hokmah' (wisdom) and discusses this from John Scotus Erigena and Meister Eckhart (Origins of the Kabbalah, ed. R.J. Werblowsky, trans. Allan Arkush, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990, pp. 269, 272-273).

Julian likely earned her keep when an anchoress teaching children their A.B.C., these children then being able to become literate nuns and monks. Julian speaks of her knowing of God, her approaching God, as being like learning her A.B.C. (Paris Manuscript, folios 103v-104, henceforth cited as P, followed by folio number),

                                        I haue
techyng wt in me. as it were the be=
gynnyng of an .A.B.C. wher
by I may haue ʃome vnderʃtondyng
of oure lordys menyng. ffor the
pryvytes of the reuelacion be hyd
ther in.

I have teaching within me, as it were the beginning of an alphabet, whereby I may have some understanding of our Lord’s meaning, for the secrets of the revelation are concealed therein.

and (P166),
                                      Of whych
gretneʃʃe he wylle we haue knowyng
here as it were in an .A.B.C. That
is to ʃey. that we may haue a lytylle
knowyng where of we ʃhulde haue
fulhed in heuyn and that is for to
ʃpede vs.

Of which greatness he wants us to know here as if it were an alphabet. That is to say that we may have a little knowledge of what shall be fulfilled in heaven and that is to help us.

Our alphabet is Semitic, and of one family, of one technology, of one phonetic code, shared by Torah, Koran and Gospel, in which our Bible, God’s Word is inscribed, whether the forms of these letters be aleph, beth, gimel, or alpha, beta, gamma, or A, B, C, in our Roman usage. The Hebrew alphabet has each letter be a thing and a number as well as a phonetic code, aleph=ox, 1 or 1000, beth=house (2,2000), gimel=camel (3,3000). This is where computers began. One calls such mysticism cataphatic, for it uses signs and symbols, icons and images, being concrete, not abstract, 'dabhar' being word and thing, 'amen', that which is said, which therefore is. Hebrew Law forbids the representation of God, except by a hand (yad, yod, hand, the smallest letter, the number 10) in the sky, but the Hebrew Bible very much shapes God in our image, with a face, with arms, with hands, with fingers, with human body parts. Hebrew mysticism is paradoxically rooted in the Incarnation, of the Word as flesh and blood, with simple things we see and taste, with mem (40,600), water, and nun (50,700), fish, that God's Word is in all Creation.

*And where lights, water, bread, wine and oil are blessed liturgically by women and men.

Baruch atha adonai elohinu melech ha olim. Blessed art thou Lord, King of the Universe, who has made us holy by Thy Commandments and bidst us light these Sabbath lights. "and who brings forth bread from the earth," and of the fruit of the vine.

St Francis of mercantile Assisi, himself with Jewish roots, saw God’s Creation in such sacred and such material forms, treasuring each scrap of writing, reading in Humanity and Nature, the imaging of the Creator, the Word become flesh in our midst.

Adam Easton’s knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, which he taught at Oxford, is found throughout his writings, including his certain authorship of the Defensorium Ecclesiastice Potestatis, 1379-80, which won for him his 1381 Cardinalate and his likely authoring of the Liber Regalis, compiled for the second Coronation of Richard II to Queen Anne of Bohemia, both clad in blue, which Easton arranged in 1383 for the Pope, stressing there Jerome's Epistle to Fabiola on the High Priest Aaron's garb, particularly its blue, to be echoed in Julian's Parable of the Lord and Servant where the Lord is garbed in Aaron's and Mary's blue, seated on the ground. Julian’s use of the Hebrew Scriptures, and especially those parts of the Bible Adam loved, will be omnipresent throughout all versions of her Showing of Love.

IIb. Shema

*In particular, there are echoes of the Hebrew Shema, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One; And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength; and your neighbour as yourself’, from Deuteronomy 6.4, Leviticus 19.18, Mark 12.30-31, Luke 10.27, and which are written on scrolls blessed and placed in mezuzahs on the doorposts of observant Jewish houses. Isaac's House would have had them.  

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Blessed be His name, whose glorious kingdom is for ever
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thing heart, and with all thine soul, and with all thy might.

to be found in Julian’s Showing.

And in thys
knowyng he wyll þt our vndir=
ʃtondyng be grounded wt all our
myghtis, all our entent. & all
oure meanyng. (W93v, P77)

And in this knowing he wills that our understanding be grounded with all our strength, all our intent and all our meaning.

                            for he wolde
haue all oure loue faʃtened to
hym. (W107-107v)

For he would have all our love fastened to him.

when we fele hym truly. wyllyng to
be wt hym. wt all oure herte. wt all
oure ʃoule. and wt all oure myghte. (P107v)

And when we feel him truly, wanting to be with him with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our might.

. . . and my harte to faʃten
on god wt alle the truʃte and the myghte. (P147)

And my heart to fasten to God with all my trust and with all my strength.

IIc. God as Power, Wisdom and Love

Julian descants upon God as Power, Wisdom and Love. So also had Dante had his Hell Gate be created by God as Power, Wisdom and Love. But when I sought this phrase in Latin amongst the Church Fathers I found it only in the circle associated with the influence of Pseudo-Dionysius, mainly the Victorines and Marguerite Porete. The similar phrase Julian also uses, of God as Power, Wisdom and Goodness, is likewise rare. But in Julian these terms for God invoked as Power, Wisdom and Love are everywhere (W83, P25, 58, 63v, 84v, 124v, 132, 133v, 154-154v, 161, A100, 114). Similarly for God as Might, Wisdom and Goodness (P10, 63, 84v, 87v, 90 (twice), 114-114v, 125v, 136, 144, 161, A112). And for the Trinity as Truth, Wisdom and Love, (W97, P81 [twice], 81v, 84v, 168v). While the form, Truth, Wisdom and Goodness, is likewise found (W99v, P114).

For example:

                                   ʃee I
led all thyng to þe end. that I
ordeyned it to . fro wtoute begyn=
nynge. by þe
ʃame myght wiʃe=
dome & loue. that I made it with (W83)

See I lead all things to the end that I ordained them to, from without beginning, by the same might, wisdom and love that I made them with.

It was not until I was asked to review a book by Deeana Copeland Klepper, The Insight of Unbelievers: Nicholas of Lyra and Christian Reading of Jewish Text in the Later Middle Ages, p. 93, that I found what I had sought. Jewish/Christian polemics hinged upon God as Unity/Trinity. Hebrew has plural forms for God's name, for example, Elohim. These plural forms came to be seen in rabbinical teachings as Power, Wisdom and Love, or Power, Wisdom and Goodness. However, Nicholas of Lyra and other Christian exegetes, for instance, Thomas Aquinas, who attacked Augustine on this score, paradoxically claimed this was heresy, that God could not be divided, and that these qualities belonged to the act of creation, not to God per se.

IId. Restlessness and Rest

Julian also incorporates into the Showing of Love the Isaiah 30.15 passage on restlessness and rest (P10):
                                              And this
is the cauʃe why that no ʃowle is in
reʃte till it is noughted of all thinges
that is made: for when ʃhe is wilfully nough=
ted for loue, to haue him that is all,
then is ʃhe able to receive ghoʃtly reʃte,

And this is the cause why no soul is at rest until it is noughted of all things that are made: for when she is willfully noughted for love, to have him that is all, then she is able to receive ghostly rest,

which recurs in the Norwich Castle Manuscript at folio 59v (N59v),
   Lord ʃeith he I ʃchal be fulfeld and fed when thi bliʃʃe ʃchal apere whan I ʃchal ʃe that bliʃful face there as the prophete ʃeith. yʃaie lxvij. Schal be ʃabat of ʃabaat for aftyr the dai of grace and of reʃte fro ʃynne ʃchal come the dai of bliʃʃe and endeles reʃte fro woo and trauaile.

‘Lord’, he said, ‘I shall be fulfilled and fed when your bliss shall appear when I shall see that blissful face there' as the prophet says, Isaiah 67, on the Sabbath of Sabbaths. For after the day of grace and of rest from sin shall come the day of bliss and endless rest from woe and travail.

and in the Amherst Manuscript’s passage from Heinrich Suso, Horologium Sapientiae, fol. 136 (A136), from Isaiah 66.23, ‘et sabbatum ex sabbato.’

IIe. The 'Sign of Jonah'

In the Long Text, at P20-20v, but not in Westminster nor in Amherst, is a use of both Jonah 2.2-9, especially verse 5, and Psalms 18.16, 139.7-12 (for Jonah is quoting the Psalms, where Julian describes herself on the deep sea floor, wrapped in seaweed, in a ‘sign of Jonah’ episode (Matthew 12.39-41, Luke 11.29-32), again taking what is consonant from Hebraism with Christianity. I illustrate this vision with two scenes from the Guthlac Roll, showing the fish in the water, for Saints Guthlac and Pega are likewise from East Anglia. Remember that in Hebrew M, mem is water, N, nun is fish. Catherine of Siena said, 'God is in us as the fish is in the water, and we are in God as the water is in the fish'.


This is Julian's passage, Julian's vision:

One tyme my vnderʃtandyng
was lett Downe in to the ʃea grounde .
and ther ʃaw I hilles and dales grene
ʃemyng as it were moʃʃe begrowyng
wt wrake and gravell. Then I vn
derʃtode thus . that if a man or woman
when there vnther the brode water
and he myght haue ʃyght of god . ʃo
as god is wt a man continually. he ʃ=
houlde be ʃafe in ʃowle and body and
take no harme.

One time my understanding was let down on to the sea bed and there I saw green hills and dales seeming as it were moss growing on the wrack and gravel. Then I understood that if a man or woman were there under the deep water he might yet have sight of God. For as God is with a man continually he should be safe in soul and body and take no harm.

Julian chiastically envelopes it with the Song of Solomon’s love quest, and just so had Christ preceded and presented within it the Queen of Sheba coming to seek Solomon’s wisdom (Matthew 12.42, Luke 11.31), when speaking of the 'sign of Jonah'. This particular passage seems to evoke as well intensely classical passages from Plato and from Plotinus, likely known to Master, then Cardinal, Adam Easton. Even the fine passage at the end of the Showing of Love (P171v),
I ʃawe and vnderʃtode that oure feyth
is oure lyght in oure nyght . Whych
lyght is god oure endleʃʃe day

Thus I saw and understood that our faith is our light in our night. Which light is God, our endless day.

is quoting Psalm 138.11-12, the Psalm Jonah has sung in the belly of the whale. One therefore suspects this gathering of texts represents what Julian heard from a sermon Master Adam Easton had preached in Norwich to the laity, 1356-1363, 1367-1368. Just as one suspects another sermon Julian would have heard from Adam during those years to have been on St Dionysius the Areopagite.

IIf. And God Saw That It Was Good

*Soon after the ‘Deep Sea Bed’ section, is an enchanting part of Julian’s Long Text that reminds one of one’s first Hebrew lesson, describing God’s Creation of the World and seeing that each in turn is good, tov, Genesis 1.4,10,18,25,31,

at P24 on the soul beholding God,

And generally of all his workes . ffor
they be fulle good.

And generally of all his work. For they are very good.
That discussion of God’s Creation of the World continues through a blending of Exodus 3.14, Psalm 119.73, Wisdom of Solomon 7, Hebrews 6.1 at P25, to be followed on Genesis 1.6-10 and Psalm 65.9 at P25v. Julian repeats Exodus 3.14, where God is ‘I am’, at P49 as ‘I it am’. It is as if we are glimpsing the labours of Paula and Eustochium with Jerome. And those of Magister Mathias and Birgitta. For the biographies of Cardinal Adam Easton state he translated the entire Hebrew Bible: ‘ac Biblia tota ab hebreo in latinum transtulisse’, says John Bale, though it was later stolen except for the Psalter by a Carmelite, named Richard Collier.

IIg. The Mikveh

Other scholars have also responded to Julian's Judaism. Maria R. Lichtmann, '"I desyred a bodylye syght": Julian of Norwich and the Body', Mystics Quarterly 17 (1991), 12-19, cites Jacob Neusner, The Oral Torah: The Sacred Books of Judaism, An Introduction, pp. 16-21, on the Talmudic taboo of overflowing of boundaries of fluidity in relation to PIV.xii.25v.8-26.4 of the Long Text, where Julian speaks of God's Creation of the waters plenteously for our service, reminding one of the mikveh, the ritual bath (when Christ changes the water in the jars into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, these containers are the ones used to carry the water to the mikveh bath for the cleansing of a woman from menstrual blood), but then adding that Christ's blood is even more cleansing and more generous.

the hote blode ranne out ʃo plentu=
ouʃly that ther was neyther ʃeen ʃkyn=
ne ne wounde but as it were all blode.
And when it cam where it shulde ha=
ue falle Downe. there it vanyʃʃched.
not wt ʃtandyng the bledyng conty=
nued a whyle. tyll it myght be ʃeen
wt avyʃement. And this was
ʃo plentuous to my ʃyght that me
thought. if it had ben ʃo in kynde
and in ʃubʃtance for that tyme. it
ʃhulde haue made the bedde all on
bloude. and haue paʃʃyde over all about,
Than came to my mynde. that
god hath made watyrs plentuous
in erth to our ʃervys. And to our
bodyly eeʃe for tendyr loue that he
hath to vs. But yet lyketh hym better
that we take full holʃomly hys bleʃʃyd
blode to waʃʃch vs of ʃynne. ffor ther
is no lycour that is made. that lykyth hym
ʃo wele to yeue vs. ffor it is moʃt plen=
tuous as it is moʃt precious.
The hot blood ran out so plenteously that neither the skin nor the wound could be seen for blood. And when it came to where it should have fallen, there it vanished. Notwithstanding the bleeding continued a while till it could be seen observantly. ¶ And this was so plenteous in my sight that I thought that if it been so in nature and in substance at that time it would have made the bed all bloody and have spilled over all about. ¶ Then came to my mind that God has created waters plenteously on earth for our service and for our bodily ease for the tender love that he has for us. But yet he likes better that we take full wholesomely his blessed blood to wash ourselves from sin. For there is no liquid that is made that he likes so well to give us. For it is as most plenteous as it is most precious.
In these lines in the Showing of Love one can sense Julian as Jewish, concerned about purity and pollution, and as Christian convert, understanding Jesus' radical strategy in breaking halach, the careful avoiding of blood, death, by taking his blood as Eucharist wine to save all, to be echoed again in Marlowe's lines he gives to Doctor Faustus (V.ii.91-92):
See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul - half a drop! ah my Christ! -

Alfred Edersheim, a Jewish convert in the nineteenth century, wrote splendid books, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (London: Longmans, Green, 1897), The Temple and its Services (London: Religious Tract Society, 1874), and others, studying Jesus' Judaism, mixing it with proto-Marxism, observing that Rome co-opted and exempted Jerusalem's priests from taxes either to Temple or Caesar but that the laity were bled white paying both taxes to Temple and to Caesar. He noted how Jesus's ministry and martyrdom broke the financial stranglehold of the Romanised Judaic priesthood, based on the paid ritual observances of halach, by turning these inside out to where unclean women, lepers, madmen, Samaritans, Syro-Phoenicians could cease to be 'untouchable', and where the central liturgy itself now turned blood and death into life and salvatory wine gratis. Gandhi would repeat these strategies with the illegal making of salt, breaking the imperial Roman and British monopoly, and the accepting of Untouchables. Martin Buber in Ecstatic Confessions, in 1909, responded to Julian's Showing. While John Lounibos and his Jewish students at Dominican College have discussed Julian in terms of the Torah's Midrash. Sister Benedicta Ward has observed that Julian's precursor can be observed in St Anselm's Prayer on St Paul where Christ is Mother. While it is in Judaism that God is emphatically both Mother and Father, both feminine and masculine, as we shall see in the hands of Rembrandt's Prodigal Father, and in particular it is Rabbi David Kimhi, whose work Adam Easton possessed, who wrote of the Motherhood of God as in Psalm 110 and Isaiah.

IIh. 'Dextra Domini'


Julian's Parable of the Lord and the Servant owes much to Isaiah, particularly its 'Suffering Servant' section. In part it is a political allegory, perhaps, for in 1385 Adam Easton himself fell afoul of his beloved Pope Urban VI, was imprisoned in a dungeon, tortured and the other five Cardinals with him, were all murdered, he alone escaping to tell the tale. Of particular interest is Julian's discussion of the Servant, the Son. Julian does not place Christ seated at God's right hand, as one would expect from the Christian uses of Psalm 110-1 in Matthew 22.41-46, Mark 12.35-37, Luke 20.42-44, but first as standing directly before the Lord, the Father, and she uses 'right' as a qualifier. She takes pains to explain that 'right' is not literal,

But it is nott ment
that the ʃonne ʃyttyth on the ryght
hand beʃyde as one man ʃyttyth
by an other in this lyfe. for ther
is no ʃuch ʃyttyng as to my ʃyght
in the trynyte. but he ʃyttyth on
his faders ryght honde. that is to
ʃey ryght in the hyeʃt noblyte of
the faders Joy (P106),

But it is not meant that the Son sits on the right hand side as one man sits by another in this world. For there is no such sitting as to my understanding in the Trinity. But he sits on his Father's right hand, that is to say right in the highest nobility of the Father's joy,

conforming her perceptions to those in The Cloud of Unknowing (Early English Text Society 216:106-109.26, 114.3-10), discussing Stephen's martyrdom in Acts 7.55. Rabbi David Kimhi, whose work Adam Easton owned, had clearly stated, from his father Rabbi Joseph Kimhi, that Christians erred in their interpretation of the Psalm. Adam Easton, following their teaching as does Julian of Norwich, explained that in Hebrew 'dextra domini', is not be taken literally, but as 'honoured' (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hamilton 7, fol. CCXLI).

A similar instance occurs in Easton's Defensorium Ecclesiastice Potestatis where Easton has himself in dialogue as 'Episcopus' discuss with a Jew, Rabbi Samuel de Doma, the meaning of Psalm 72.2: Deus iudicium tuum regi da, et iustitiam tuam filio regis, as to whether it applies to King Solomon or God. Easton adds 'I reply to you as I did then to the Jew: Let the Psalm be read and if it can be verified about Solomon purely as a man and a king I agree with you and am convinced. If it cannot be explained thus, hold what the Church teaches'.

Julian's text:

But it is nott ment
that the ʃonne ʃyttyth on the ryght
hand beʃyde as one man ʃyttyth
by an other in this lyfe.

reflects Adam's text which reflects Rabbi Samuel's text, which reflects Rabbi David Kimhi's text, which reflects his father Rabbi Joseph Kimhi's text, all this reflected too in the Cloud's text, in a family of texts, passed down from father to son, and here also perhaps to a sister. Thus the line in the Creed is to be interpreted not literally as seated at the right hand but as greatly 'honoured', as the heir.

IIi. Adam

And / thus is mannys ʃoule made of god. and in the ʃame poynte knyte to god ¶And thus I vnderʃtode that mannes ʃoule is made of nought, that is to ʃey it is made but of nought• that is made, as thus• whan god ʃhulde make mannes body he toke the ʃlyme of the erth. whych is a mater medelyd and gaderyd of alle bodely thynges• and therof he made mannes body• ¶But to the makyng of mannys ʃoule he wolde take ryght nought• but made it. And thus is the kynde made ryghtfully onyd to the maker whych is ʃubʃtauncyall kynde vnmade þt is god. ¶And therfore it is that ther may ne ʃhall be ryght nought betwene god and mannis ʃoule• (XIV.liii.112-112v)

[And thus is man’s soul made by God and in the same point knit to God. And thus I understood that man’s soul is made of nought, that is to say it is made but of nothing that is made, as thus: When God should make man’s body he took the slime of the earth, which is a matter meddled and gathered of all bodily things, and from that he made man’s body. But to the making of man’s soul he took right nought, but made it. And thus is the nature made rifghtfully oned to the maker who is substancial nature unamde, that is God. And therefore it is that there may nor shall be right nothing between God and man’s soul.]

IIj. Moses and the Vision of God, P80v, Exodus 32.20

                       The creature that is
made ʃhall ʃee and endleʃly behold god
whych is the maker. ffor thus may
no man ʃe god and leue after· that
is to ʃay· in this dedely lyffe· but whan
he of his ʃpeciall grace will ʃhewe hym
here, he ʃtrengthyth the creature/ a
bouyn the ʃelf· And he meaʃures the ʃhow=
ing after his own will as it is
profytable for the tym

IIk. I it am/I am: P49, P126v, P170v, Exodus 3.14, 1 Kings 19.12, John 8.58

                       Often tymes oure lorde
Jesu ʃeyde· I it am· I it am· I it am· that
is hygheʃt· I it am· that thou louyʃt I it
am, that thou lykyʃt· I it am that
thou ʃeruyʃte· I it am that thou longeʃt I it
· that thou deʃyreʃt· I it am that
thou meny
ʃte I it am· that is alle I
it am· that holy church prechyth the
and techyth thee· I it am· that ʃhewde
me before to the·

IIl. David and the Penitential Psalms

                                            ¶And then
god brought merely to my mynde· David and
other in the olde lawe wt hym wtou3t nom=
ber· and in the new lawe he brought
to my mynde· furʃt magdaleyne, Pe=
ter and paule, Thomas and Jude,
sent John of Beverly, And other
alʃo wtou3t  nomber how they be /
knowen in the chyrch on erth wt ther ʃynnes,
and it is to them no chame· but alle is
turned them to worʃhyppe·

IIm. Shalom

Apart from Adam Easton's influence on Julian would have been that of the Carmelites. The White Friars as they were known, like William Southfield who knew both Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe of Lynn, traced their origins to the prophets Elijah and Elisha. At P50-59v, is a crescendoing of a passage drawn from 2 Kings 4.23,26, concerning the miracle by Elisha of the raising of the Shunamite woman's dead child, despite her sarcasm. She answers, when all is lost, her son dead, 'All is well, shalom'.  Julian's use, 'All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well', rubricated, in red, in the Paris manuscript, corresponds to the Hebrew text of the Scriptures where this phrase is shalom, rather than the translation of the Jerome Vulgate Latin, recte (Regum IV 4.26) and Wycliffite Middle English, ri3t, Bibles. Maria Boulding cites John MacQuarrie on Hebraic shalom as signifying completeness, fullness, unity, wholeness, similar to Russian mir and Sanskrit santi, while the Greek eirene means truce, a mere pause in man's normal state of hostility, similar to Latin pax, and that Biblical thinking has peace be more original than sin in The Coming of God (London: Collins, 1984), pp. 200-201, citing Macquarrie, The Concept of Peace (New York: Harper, 1973), p. 22. Julian in her thirty-first chapter says

                         I may make alle
thyng wele. And I can make all thy=
ng welle. And I
ʃhalle make alle thyng
wele. And I wylle make all thyng
welle. And thou
ʃhalt se thy ʃelfe þt
alle maner of thyng shall be welle.

I may make all things well. And I can make all things well. And I shall make all things well. And I will make all things well. And you will see yourself that all manner of things shall be well. (P54v-55)


III. Julian on the Jews

Julian in her 32nd and 33rd Chapters to the Showing of Love struggles to reconcile damnation and salvation, Christ's teaching and that of the Church. She rubricates Christ's saving argument that she reveals in her prophetic writing, her Showing of his Love (P58v-59).

And one poynt of oure feyth
is. that many creatures ʃhall be da=
mpnyd as angelis that felle ou3t
of hevyn for pride whych be now
fendys. And meny in erth that
dyeth out of the feyth of holy chych.
that is to ʃey. tho that be heythyn And
alʃo many that hath receyvyd criʃton=
dom and lyvyth vncriʃten lyfe. And
dyeth ou3te of cheryte. All theyʃe
ʃhall be dampnyd to helle wtou3t
ande. as holy chirche techyth me to
beleue. And ʃtondyng alle thys
me thought it was vnpoʃʃible that
alle maner of thyng ʃhuld be wele
as oure lorde ʃhewde in thys tyme.
And as to thys I had no other
an∫were in ʃhewyng of our lorde
but thys. that þt is vnpoʃʃible to the
is nott vnpoʃʃible to me I ʃhalle
∫ave my worde in alle thyng and
I ʃhalle make althyng wele.

And one point of our faith is that many creatures shall be damned like the angels who fell from heaven because of pride and who are now fiends. And many on earth who die outside of the faith of Holy Church, that is to say those who are pagan. And also many who have received Christ but lived un-Christian lives and who die lacking charity. All these shall be damned to hell without end, as Holy Church teaches me to believe. Yet from all this I though it was impossible that all manner of thing shall be well as our Lord showed at this time. And to this I had no other answer the Lord showed but this: What is impossible to you is not impossible to me. I shall save my Word in all things and I shall make all things well.

  Antonello da Messina, Annunciation

Scripturally those words are said by the Angel to Mary concerning God conceiving Jesus within her virgin womb at the Annunciation, Luke 1.37, with which Julian's Westminster Showing of Love had so magnificently opened, joining these to shalom, all shall be well, that shall be wrought by that saving Word, the Saviour, salus noster, in all.

Then in the following Chapter 33 (P60):

In whych ʃy3t I vnder∫tond
tht alle the creatures tht be of the devylles
condiʃcion in thys life. and ther in en=
dyng ther is no more mencyon made
of them before god and alle his holyn
then of the devylle. Notwythʃtondy=
ng that they be of mankynde wheder they
haue be criʃtend or nought. ffor though
the reuelation was ʃhewde of goodnes
in whych was made lytylle mencion
of evylle. 3ett I was nott drawen ther
by from ony poynt of the feyth þt holy
chyrch techyth me to beleue.

In which sight I understand that of all the creatures who are of the devil's condition in this life and at their ending, there is no more mention made of them before God and his angels, than of the devil. Though they are of mankind, whether christened or not. For the Revelation was shown of goodness in which little mention was made of evil. Yet I was not drawn by it from any point of the faith that Holy Church teaches me to believe.

Finally, on the Crucifixion, she speaks of the Jews (P60-60v),
                                               ffor I had
ʃyght of the paʃʃion of criʃt in dyuerʃe ʃhewy=
ing. . . . as it is before ʃeyde wher in
I had in part felyng of þe ʃorow of oure
lady. And of hys tru frendys that ʃaw
hys paynes. but I ʃaw nott ʃo properly
ʃpecyfyed the Jewes that dyd hym to
deth. But nott wtʃtondyng I knew in
my feyth that they ware a curʃyd and
dampnyd wtoute ende. ʃavyng tho þt
were convertyd by grace.

For I saw Christ's Passion in several Showings. . . . As said earlier, where I shared the feeling of the sorrow of our Lady and of his true friends who saw his pains. But I did not see properly the Jews who put him to death. Though I knew in my faith they were cursed and damned eternally, except those who converted by grace.

Julian, as we have seen in the earlier examples, sees Judaism and Christianity as a seamless garment, the Shema being also in the Gospel. Similarly, Teresa de Avila and Edith Stein had been brilliant Jewish women converts to Christianity. Julian's Church, before Vatican II and before Auschwitz, taught as dogma the damnation of the Jews.

Julian, as Christian, must obey her Church. Yet she also obeys Christ, holding these contradictions in a complementarity.
Julian's Church told her Jews, unless they converted, were damned. Julian's Showing from Christ does not show her this doctrine. Julian's Christ uses a most Jewish argument to save all and to have all manner of thing be well, noting that God's Word in all shall be saved, all of us having that creating Word within us, whether Jew or Greek or Christian or Muslim or pagan heathen.

IV. Julian's Extant Manuscripts

It is almost universally assumed by Julian scholars that the Amherst Manuscript (dated within itself '1413', and itself stating it is written during Julian's lifetime) is early, circa 1373, while the Westminster, Paris and Sloane Manuscripts are considered to be late, their exemplar circa 1383, these copies written out up through the seventeenth century, only Nicholas Watson in two articles questioning this assumption:
'The Composition of Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Love'. Speculum 68 (1993), 637-683; 'Censorship and Cultural Change in Late-Medieval England: Vernacular Theology, the Oxford Translation Debate, and Arundel's Constitutions of 1409'. Speculum 70 (1995), 822-864, then retracting to the safety of the status quo. But given Chancellor Archbishop Arundel's stringent prohibitions against the translation of the Bible into English and against the teaching by the laity, especially by women, of theology promulgated in his 1408 Constitutions, it is far more probable that the Amherst Manuscript was drafted in compliance with those strictures. It protests at length against Julian herself as a teacher and it rigorously cuts from its text almost all of Julian's translations from the Hebrew Bible. Its heavy reliance on detail in reporting her 'death-bed' vision can be attributed to the great danger to her life she faced under Arundel's enforced Constitutions, rather than to the nearness in time of that vision as justification for her writing. Prior to Arundel's restrictions Julian in Norwich had been quietly translating the Hebrew Scriptures into English - before the King James Bible would do so.



I should like to end with two images of women scholars at their Torah study. *On our left is Nechama Leibovitz of Blessed Memory, on our right, St Birgitta of Sweden. I imagine Julian as being like them. When Alfonso of Jaén and Adam Easton defended Birgitta for her canonization they likened her to Huldah, the woman who told King Josiah that the Torah, which had been forgotten, then discovered in a cupboard in the Temple, must be read and studied by all, children, women and men. Later, Ezra and Nehemiah, following the return from the exile in Babylon, would copy her. Only David and Huldah are buried in Jerusalem, Huldah at Huldah's Gate. While Birgitta, through her spiritual director Magister Mathias, had access to the Bible in Hebrew and later travelled to Jerusalem on pilgrimage, and became a model also to Julian's illiterate pilgrim surrogate from East Anglia, Margery Kempe.


See also The Joy of Hebrew, Contemplating on Hebrew, Martin Buber and Julian, John Lounibos, Julian and Medieval Midrash, Nicolas of Lyra, Karen Graffeo, Chuppa

Alan Webster delivered the 1981 St Paul's Lecture on 'Suffering, the Jews of Norwich and Julian of Norwich' at St Botolph's Church, Aldgate, based largely on his friendship and sharing with V.D. Lipman and his copious research on Norwich's medieval Jewry.

For Chaucer's Prioress, see http://www.umilta.net/Prioress.html and Michael Calabrese 'Performing the Prioress' at  http://www.geocities.com/salferrat/chauccal.htm

On the physical evidence of the persecution of Jews in Norwich see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13855238

On the longevity in English folk music of the pogroms against the Jews of York, Lincoln and Norwich listen to Sam Lee, 'The Jews Garden': http://samleesong.bandcamp.com/track/jews-garden and its accompanying story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/oct/28/sam-lee-gypsy-folk-music