Original Research

Juliana van Norwich (1342–ca.1416) as post-skolastiese teoloog

Johann Beukes
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 4 | a6001 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i4.6001 | © 2020 Johann Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2020 | Published: 27 August 2020

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Johann Beukes, Department of Philosophy, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Julian of Norwich (1342–ca.1416) as a post-scholastic theologian. This article positions the ‘first female English writer from the Middle Ages’, Julian of Norwich (1342–ca.1416), within the context of ‘post-scholasticism’, the very last period in late Medieval Philosophy, of which one feature was the final separation of theology and philosophy in the late Medieval index. Julian should in terms of this placing be engaged as a theologian proper, distinguished from the six other prominent female thinkers from the Medieval Latin West (Héloïse, Hildegard, Mechtild, Hadewijch, Marguerite and Catherine), who were all philosopher-theologians. However, Julian’s epistemology and metaphysics were intertwined with her theology, as presented in her Book of Showings, to such an extent that it is impossible to isolate it from her theological output. She is within the socio-historical context of the third wave of the Black Plague in Norwich in 1369 henceforth profiled as a ‘post-scholastic theologian’ and presented on the basis of prominent theological features in Showings, including its immanent-mystical character (being a presentation of convent theology rather than scholastic theology), its vernacular (Middle English) originality and profound pastoral appeal, its maternal-Christological imagery (Moder Jhesu), its Trinitarian orientation (for the trinitie is god, god is the trinitie) and its deeply eschatological, open-ended engagement with a world devastated by the Plague (alle shalle be wele).

Contribution: As a millennium-long discourse, Medieval philosophy functions in a Venn diagrammatical relationship with Medieval history, Church history, patristics and philosophy of religion. Whenever ‘mainstream’ or ‘canonised’ Medieval philosophy is impacted from specialist research, it may well have implications that these closely related disciplines could take note of. Such is the case in this reappraisal of Julian of Norwich’ theological and pastoral legacy from its original context of the Black Plague in the 14th century – and indeed within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.


Black Plague; Book of Showings; immanent mysticism; Julian of Norwich (1342–c.1416); Late Medieval convent theology; Late Medieval speculative theology; Middle-English vernacular theology; mystical theology; post-scholasticism


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