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Medieval Language Philosophy

  • Sarah L. Higley
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Before I discuss the private and fictional projects of succeeding centuries, I will briefly describe Hildegard’s spiritual and historical environment and the mystical notions of language to which she may have been exposed.

Keywords

Twelfth Century Hebrew Letter Gothic Cathedral Substitution Cipher Fall World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See Caroline Walker Bynum’s chapter entitled “Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual?” in Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), pp. 82–109.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Caroline Walker Bynum, Metamorphosis and Identity (Cambridge, MA: Zone Books, 2005), pp. 24, 25.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter 326.4, in The Letters of Bernard of Clairvaux, trans. Bruno Scott James (Kalamazoo: Ml: Cistercian Publications, 1998), p. 402.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Hildegard of Bingen, Hilãegarãis Bingensis Epistolarium, ed. Lleven Van Acker, CCCM vol. 91 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1991), pp. 125–127.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    On the issue of Hildegard’s social politics, see Constance J. Mews, “Hildegard, the Speculum Virginuin and Religious Reform in the Twelfth Century,” in Hildegard von Bingen in ihrem historischen Umfeld. ed. Alfred Haverkamp (Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabem, 2000), pp. 237—267.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Stephen PoUington, heechcraft: Early English Charms, Plantlore and Healing (Frithgarth, Norfolk: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2000), p. 190.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Jim Reeds inquires about the relatively unknown intent of Trithemius’ book, “Is [the Steganographia] primarily an exposition of cryptographic techniques disguised as angel magic, or is it primarily a magic work disguised as cryptography?” in “Solved: The Ciphers in Book 111 of Trithemius’s Steganographia,” Cryptologia 22 (1998): 292 [291—319].Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Dante, “Inferno,” vol. 1, in The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, ed. trans. Robert M. Durling (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 112, 484. While Durling cannot decipher Raphael’s utterance, Peter Dronke insists that it is creditable Arabic, a language known to Dante along with Hebrew (Dante and Medieval Latin Traditions [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986], p. 41).Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Jeffrey T. Schnapp, “Virgin Words: Hildegard of Bingen’s Lingua Ignota and the Development of Imaginary Languages Ancient to Modem.” Exemplaria 3.2 (1991): 278 [267–298].Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    “Le Miracle de Théophile,” in Ouvres complète de Ruteheuf vol. 11, éd. Edmond Farai and Julia Bastin (Paris: Picard, 1960), p. 185.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    Ruth Mellinkoff, Outcasts: Signs of Otherness in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages, vol. 1 (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1993), pp. 95–108.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Ewert H. Cousins, “Bonaventure’s Mysticism of Language,” in Mysticism and Language, ed. Steven T. Katz (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 236 [236–257].Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    See Denys Turner, The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 12, 19—20.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    Ibid., p. 139.Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    See Jacques Derrida’s essay “How to Avoid Speaking: Denials,” in Languages of the Unsayahle: The Play of Negativity in Literature and Literary Theory, ed. Sanford Budick and Wolfgang Iser (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), pp. 3—70. Derrida argues that his materialist notion of différance differs from the realist notions of the negative theologians who in denying the ability to speak of God still believe in the existence of God outside human experience.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    See especially Andrew Weeks, German Mysticism from Hildegard of Bingen to Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Literary and Intellectual History (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    Hildegard, Scivias, ed. Adelgundis Führkõtter and Angela Carlevaris, CCCM vol. 43 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978), pp. 3–4.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    Ibid., p. 3: “dice et scribe quae uides et audis … ea sic edisserendo profer-ens, quemadmodum et auditor, uerba praceptoris sui percipiens, ea secundum tenorem locutionis illius, ipso uolente, ostendente et praecipente propalat.”Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    “Actes de Philippe,” trans. Bertrand Bouvier and François Bovon, in Écrits apocryphes chrétiens, ed. François Bovon and Pierre Geoltrain (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), p. 1184. Their French translation is based on three manuscripts: the Athens Manuscript (Bibliothèque nationale 346), the Vatican Manuscript (Greek 824) and the Manuscript of Mount Athos (Xenophontos 32).Google Scholar
  20. 26.
    Ibid., p. 1212.Google Scholar
  21. 27.
    M(ontague) R(hodes) James, ed. and trans.. The Apocryphal New Testament, Being the Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses With Other narratives and Fragments (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924, 1989), p. 448. The parenthetical remarks by James are the summaries of text he has omitted. Furthermore, he gives little information about the manuscripts he bases his translation upon.Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    G.R.S. Mead, “Summary of the Contents of the So-Called Pistis Sophia Treatise,” in ed. G.R.S. Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten (New York: University Books, 1960), pp. 461–462.Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    Monika Klaes, ed., III.xvi. Vita Sanctae Hildegardis, CCCM, vol. 126 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), pp. 53–54.Google Scholar
  24. 35.
    Brian P. Copenhaver, trans.. Hermética: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Transation, with Notes and Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. xlvii.Google Scholar
  25. 36.
    Henry Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, completed 1510, trans. James Freake, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book 111, x, “Of Divine Emanations, which the Hebrews Call Numerations” (London: Gregory Moule, 1651); ed. annot. Donald Tyson (St. Paul, MN: LlyweUyn Publications, 2004), pp. 468, 533.Google Scholar
  26. 39.
    Folio 75v. See Marianna Schrader and Adelgundis Fürhkõtter, Die Echtheit des Schriftums der heiligen Hildegard von Bingen: Quellenkritische Untersuchungen (Cologne: Bohlau-Verlag, 1956), p. 53.Google Scholar
  27. 40.
    Jonathan P. Green, “A New Gloss on Hildegard of Bingen’s Lingua Ignota.” Viator 36 (2005): 234 [217–234].Google Scholar
  28. 41.
    George Phuip Krapp and EUiott Van Kirk Dobbie, ed.. The Exeter Book (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1936, 1961), p. 204: U. 8b-lla.Google Scholar
  29. 42.
    Derek J. Price, ed. facsimile version of The Equatorie of the planetis, Peterhouse ms. 75.1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1955), fol. 30v et passim.Google Scholar
  30. 43.
    See William Eamon, Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994) p. 4. More like “technical books than magic books,” they were produced under “the assumption that nature was a repository of occult forces that might be manipulated not by the magus’s cunning, but merely by the use of correct techniques.” One of the strangest uses of a cipher in a “Book of Secrets” can be seen in the putatively medieval Voynich Manuscript, dated anywhere from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. The entire book is written in what looks like a substitution cipher, but it has never been decrypted, nor has its “language” been identified. See my comments in chapter four, note fifteen.Google Scholar
  31. 44.
    Mandeville’s Travels: Translated from the French of Jean d’Outremeuse, ed. Paul Hamelius, vol. 11, (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), p. 22. 1 am grateful to Thomas Halm for directing me to these alphabets.Google Scholar
  32. 45.
    See Michael Embach’s discussion of Trithemius’ interest in HUdegard’s invented alphabet in Die Schriften Hildegards von Bingen: Studien zu ihrer Uher-lieferung und Rezeption im Mittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2003), pp. 255—256; but especially his chapter in the same book “Johannes Trithemius (1462—1516) als Propagator Hildegards von Bingen,” pp. 459–491.Google Scholar
  33. 46.
    Enoch was considered a prophet of such stature that he was bodily assumed into God’s heaven, according to Genesis 5:21—24 and Ecclesiasticus 44:16. The “First Book of Enoch” is presumably quoted injude, verses 14—15, and in the Pistis Sophia (Mead, Pistis Sophia Treatise, p, 487). For the lost Ethiopian version, supposedly discovered in the eighteenth century, see Donald Laycock, The Complete Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language as Revealed to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1994), p. 14. Deborah E. Harkness writes about these matters in her book John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 147, 166–167.Google Scholar
  34. 47.
    Agrippa, Occult Philosophy, III, xxix, xxx. pp. 438—439, in Tyson, p. 563. I give the original pages from EEBO, since Tyson prints these diagrams out of order.Google Scholar

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© Sarah L. Higley 2007

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