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
The skeletons of Jewish children, women and men were recently discovered in a medieval well in Norwich, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-13855238?fbclid=IwAR2c-4DR6aUF4vdR5hFKJ7pkP9FSvWzGqNYV6mPGU1qoYP7PXa0aSno_9jE,
testifying to the pogrom Chaucer's Prioress describes as like those in Lincoln and Norwich, which would culminate in their expulsion from England for centuries. But some remained.
II. Adam, Julian and
*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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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’.
*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',
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 haueand (P166),
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
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.
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
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.
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.
*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.
to be found in Julian’s Showing.
And in thysIIc. God as Power, Wisdom and Love
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
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.
¶ And thiswhich recurs in the Norwich Castle Manuscript at folio 59v (N59v),
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,
¶ 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.and in the Amherst Manuscript’s passage from Heinrich Suso, Horologium Sapientiae, fol. 136 (A136), from Isaiah 66.23, ‘et sabbatum ex sabbato.’
‘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.
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 vnderʃtandyngJulian 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),
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.
¶ Thusis 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.
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.
*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 . fforThat 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.
they be fulle good.
And generally of all his work. For they are very good.
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!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.
One drop would save my soul - half a drop! ah my Christ! -
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 mentconforming 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).
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,
IIk. I it am/I am: P49, P126v, P170v, Exodus 3.14, 1 Kings 19.12, John 8.58
Julian sees God as
being above gender and to express this, states:
David, following his sinning with Bathsheba
of both adultery and murder, repents to God in Psalm 51: חָנֵּנִי אֱלֹהִים
כְּחַסְדֶּךָ; כְּרֹב רַחֲמֶיךָ, מְחֵה פְשָׁעָי.
Julian evokes that composition:
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
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
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 feythScripturally 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.
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
Then in the following Chapter 33 (P60):
¶ In whych ʃy3t I vnder∫tondFinally, on the Crucifixion, she speaks of the Jews (P60-60v),
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.
ffor I hadJulian, 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.
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.
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
the Light: The Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Meir of Norwich
For centuries the collection of poems was “hidden” in the Vatican until they were discovered in the middle of the 19th century. Until now only parts of this collection have been translated and thus made available to a wider audience. However, in a brand new edition we are treated to the Hebrew texts as well as an English translation of the poems accompanied by an introduction and partially annotated. In itself this is a feat and the editors and translators are to be congratulated.
The edition holds all the 22 poems of Meir from Norwich. (We know they were composed by him, because of his proclivity to embellish them with rather lengthy acrostics, carefully explained in the book by the translators.)
The collection opens up with a poem “On the Termination of the Sabbath”, which was set to a dancing tune. Then it continues with “A Liturgical Poem on the Burden of Exile, Suffering and Ruin” also called: “Put a curse on my enemy.” What is immediately apparent from the tile is that now we move towards the woes of Meir of Norwich and his friends and family stemming from the local racist harassment as well as that which was fed on the national level. Nonetheless one of the next poems: “Who is like you”, which is basically a poetic rendering of Genesis and Exodus holds (at least to me) one of the most moving stanzas. Following upon the expulsion from Paradise, Meir writes:
Forced away from where
We go like cattle to the slaughter.
A slayer stands above us all.
We burn and die.
(Verse 55 -56, p. 58)
Obvious witness to an early holocaust, the words vibrate with pain and desperation, hardly contained; elsewhere the poet finds comfort in steadfast belief in how the luminous light of God will “irradiate our darkness with light”. Here, however, the tone is raw with pain, reminding us of the remains of the pitiful slayed Jewish family which were found in a well in Norwich, identified through their DNA and recently buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Norwich.
According to an introductory note a literal translation was first produced; after this a freer version was made. At the same time the translators have sought to preserve the essential meaning of the poems, while striving to “produce a text in English, which reads well.” Indeed, the translation does read well.
In this the translators have obviously succeeded. On the other hand the graphical layout is cumbersome. It is not apparent why it should be marred by the use of Latin ligatures. To be cool? Make it look at bit “Medieval”? Match the “otherness” of the Hebrew writing? Whatever the explanation, it disturbs the reading and thus to a certain extent mars the edition.
It is another – although minor quibble – that although at least some of the poems have obviously been woven together from quotations from the Hebrew Bible, only a few of those have been identified in the footnotes, even though many more may be found in the work of Einbinder, e.g. in her scholarly work on one of the poems (“Put a curse on my enemy”). Obviously the editors and translators have made a choice here, which however is not stated in the introduction. An unprepared reader may thus mistake the poems for something else than what they are – highly skilled and sometimes even beautiful heart-rendering textual patchworks steeped in the hebrew Bible as well as the the poetic traditions of Jewish Liturgical Poems from France, Germany and Spain.
Meir ben Eliahu was – if nothing else – obviously a very learned man!
Into the Light – The Medieval Hebrew
Poetry of Meir of Norwich.
Translated by Ellmann Crasnow and Bente Elsworth. With an introduction by Keiron Oim.
East Publishing, Norwich 2013
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.
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
Saint Bride and Her Book: Birgitta of Sweden's Revelations Translated from Latin and Middle English with Introduction, Notes and Interpretative Essay. Focus Library of Medieval Women. Series Editor, Jane Chance. xv + 164 pp. Revised, republished, Boydell and Brewer, 1997. Republished, Boydell and Brewer, 2000. ISBN 0-941051-18-8
To see an example of a page inside with parallel text in Middle English and Modern English, variants and explanatory notes, click here. Index to this book at http://www.umilta.net/julsismelindex.html
Norwich. Showing of Love: Extant Texts and Translation. Edited.
Sister Anna Maria Reynolds, C.P. and Julia Bolton Holloway.
Florence: SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo (Click
on British flag, enter 'Julian of Norwich' in search
box), 2001. Biblioteche e Archivi
8. XIV + 848 pp. ISBN 88-8450-095-8.
To see inside this book, where God's words are in red, Julian's in black, her editor's in grey, click here.
Norwich. Showing of Love. Translated, Julia Bolton
London; Darton, Longman and Todd, 2003. Amazon
ISBN 0-8146-5169-0/ ISBN 023252503X. xxxiv + 133 pp. Index.
To view sample copies, actual
size, click here.
'Colections' by an English Nun in Exile: Bibliothèque Mazarine 1202. Ed. Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit of the Holy Family. Analecta Cartusiana 119:26. Eds. James Hogg, Alain Girard, Daniel Le Blévec. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2006.
Anchoress and Cardinal: Julian of
Norwich and Adam Easton OSB. Analecta Cartusiana 35:20 Spiritualität
Heute und Gestern. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und
Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2008. ISBN
978-3-902649-01-0. ix + 399 pp. Index. Plates.
Teresa Morris. Julian of Norwich: A
Comprehensive Bibliography and Handbook. Preface,
Julia Bolton Holloway. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.
x + 310 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-7734-3678-7; ISBN-10:
0-7734-3678-2. Maps. Index.
Pelphrey. Lo, How I Love Thee: Divine Love in Julian
of Norwich. Ed. Julia Bolton Holloway. Amazon,
2013. ISBN 978-1470198299
the Books: Julian of Norwich's Theological Library.
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge
Scholars Publishing, 2016. xxi + 328 pp. VII Plates, 59
Figures. ISBN (10): 1-4438-8894-X, ISBN (13)
Mary's Dowry; An Anthology of
Pilgrim and Contemplative Writings/ La Dote di
Testi di Pellegrine e Contemplativi.
Traduzione di Gabriella Del Lungo
Camiciotto. Testo a fronte, inglese/italiano. Analecta
Cartusiana 35:21 Spiritualität Heute und Gestern.
Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Universität Salzburg, 2017. ISBN 978-3-903185-07-4. ix
+ 484 pp.
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