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Stephen Penn

Wyclif devoted many years of his life to the intensive study of Scripture, beginning formally with exegetical lectures that survive as a sequence of postils (probably written between 1371 and 1376), now collectively known as Postils on the Whole of the Bible , a unique and extensive commentary that won Wyclif considerable respect as an exegete. 1 In these, we witness his meticulous defence of the authority of scripture, and of the literal veracity of all of its parts. This is developed further in On the Truth of Holy Scripture (1377

in John Wyclif
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Selected Latin works in translation
Author: Stephen Penn

John Wyclif (d. 1384) was among the leading schoolmen of fourteenth-century Europe. He was an outspoken controversialist and critic of the church, and, in his last days at Oxford, the author of the greatest heresy that England had known. This volume offers translations of a representative selection of his Latin writings on theology, the church and the Christian life. It offers a comprehensive view of the life of this charismatic but irascible medieval theologian, and of the development of the most prominent dissenting mind in pre-Reformation England. This collection will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students of medieval history, historical theology and religious heresy, as well as scholars in the field.

Stephen Penn

earliest and its most powerful expression. In Eradicating Errors Concerning Universals in General , he offers a defence of his metaphysical system and answers common objections to his stance on universals ( 1 ). It was not until he composed his definitive treatise on the topic shortly afterwards, however, that he offered a formal typology of universals ( 2 ). Despite its apparent simplicity, this five-part scheme would prove to play a fundamental role in Wyclif’s metaphysical system, and is also partially replicated in his fivefold conception of Scripture ( 7i

in John Wyclif
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Stephen Penn

the Lord actually was the consecrated host. Correspondingly, I say that if this sleepy individual knew that the sick man who believed that he had sensed the dominical body in the way described was trustworthy, which cannot be proved experimentally or through Scripture, then he was not then therefore a saint, but, like too many people, a manifest idolater from Antichrist’s cult of signs. The people could actually be led astray so that they worshipped moles and bats, and creatures still more abominable, as God. In respect of the

in John Wyclif
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Stephen Penn

his later theological and political ideas with little difficulty. From the position of Regent Master, a Master of Arts who had some responsibility for teaching, Wyclif progressed to his Doctor of Theology at some point in 1371 or 1372. The crowning achievement of this part of his academic career is his series of postils, or expository notes, on selected passages from the text of Scripture (now known as the Postilla super Totam Bibliam ). These together constitute perhaps the most important commentary of its kind since the influential

in John Wyclif
Stephen Penn

Wyclif’s views on the church and the papacy were recorded systematically in two roughly contemporary treatises, On the Church (1378–79) and On the Power of the Pope (late 1379). His conception of the church, like his understanding of the nature of Scripture, was underpinned quite conspicuously by his philosophical realism, which privileged the eternal over the finite and ephemeral. In the first chapter of On the Church , in response to his initial desire to describe the quiddity of the church, he therefore claims simply that the

in John Wyclif
Stephen Penn

mankind over his sublunary inferiors is very obvious. Third, there is a clear denial of dominative supremacy in natures inferior to mankind in Scripture, and this denial would not be made if such natures had lordship. Therefore, not all freedom of use is lordship. 7 Moreover, I use the phrase according to above to connote the circumstances of the formal cause, and supremacy to describe the order of superiority that attaches to the accidental quality associated with lordship. In the third place I use servant neutrally, to signify someone doing what they must for

in John Wyclif
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Condemnation of Wyclif’s teaching
Stephen Penn

. Copy of the Bull of the Lord Pope Gregory to the University of Oxford, against Master John Wyclif, Doctor of Theology, but heretic Bishop Gregory, servant of the servants of God, sends greetings and an apostolic blessing to his beloved children, the chancellor and the University of Oxford in the Lincoln diocese. Because of the grace and privilege dispensed by the apostolic see to your university in Oxford, and because of your knowledge of the Scriptures, you should be like happy oarsmen in their seas, fighting as champions

in John Wyclif
Stephen Penn

may suspend their sinful state by God’s grace, but he is careful to explain that this does not remove but merely mitigates their eternal punishment. It seems that the foreknown do not properly receive the sacrament of baptism, and that their original sin is thus not wholly washed away. This is clear from what Augustine of Ireland says in the fifth chapter of [the first] book of [ On the Wonders of Scripture ]. 8 Anyone who is foreknown remains perpetually lacking in final perseverance, which is the gravest of sins and is completely

in John Wyclif
Stephen Penn

20[:1–2]. Chapter 1 In response to the friars’ claim that Scripture is not well understood in relation to the loosing of Satan after a thousand years, of which we read in the Book of Apocalypse, Gregory, in Book 18 of the Morals , on the text ‘And I saw an angel coming down from heaven … and he bound Satan for a thousand years’, suggests that a period of time should not be signified by the number one thousand, but rather the period during which he reigned over the whole church. 20

in John Wyclif