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The parable of the Prodigal Son
Mary Raschko

characterise themselves as outside the institutional Church while employing academic arguments and often spreading clerical texts to lay audiences. Somerset’s analysis includes Langland and Trevisa as extraclergial writers, but she calls Wycliffites its ‘most prominent and most extreme proponents’. See Somerset, Clerical Discourse and Lay Audience in Late Medieval England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 17–18. 14 Somerset uses the term lollard to refer to texts ‘influenced by the writings of John Wyclif, often in ways that attention to questions asked in

in The politics of Middle English parables
The parables of the Wedding Feast and Great Supper
Mary Raschko

common tendency to connect the expelled figure with sinful clerics and to use the parable to ‘interrogate the institutional church’.9 While I agree that the parable held special interest for clergy, especially as retold in Cleanness, the questions and debates it provoked go far beyond clerical or even lay conduct. Narrowly focused on the expelled man, Staley’s analysis, like many others’, takes for granted that the host acts justly. If we shift our attention from the figure expelled to the one who expelled him, we find that the parable presents an intellectual quandary

in The politics of Middle English parables
Placing the people at the heart of sacred space
Laura Varnam

enter the material church physically but lacking membership of the true spiritual church. This ties in to the dedication sermon in which the first definition of the church is ‘men þat shulen be saved’. While on earth, the predestined mingle with the damned in the material church which, rather than a sacred space, is merely a place where ‘boþe gode and yuel’ gather, as the dedication sermon states. There is a clear distinction, then, between the ‘visible, institutional church and the invisible community of those who will be saved’, as J. Patrick Hornbeck argues.37 And

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture