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Editor's preface


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Apparatus criticus

Textual Commentary



Outline summary

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[1] P.[3] Recti diligunt te: three kinds of ‘rightness’, grammatical, geometrical, theological, the third comprising two rules, directing inner disposition and external conduct.

[2] P.[3]-7 The author will discuss these rules, since his ‘dear sisters’ have long been requesting a rule.

[3] P.8-11 The first is charity, which rules the heart.

[4] P.12-15 The second, which is subordinate, regulates outward observances.

[5] P. 16-34 The inner rule, which is divinely ordained, is the same for all; but the corporal observances of the outer rule may be adapted for individual anchoresses on their confessor's advice.

[6] P. 35-55 They should commit themselves by a vow only to obedience, chastity, and stability of abode, not to any external observances.

[7] P. 56-94 If asked what order they belong to, and whether it is black or white, they should say ‘the order of St James’; the author interprets the definition of the religious life (religio) in Jas. 1: 27 as including prelates and preachers in the world as well as those who withdraw themselves from it, and emphasises that James makes no mention of black or white clothing. Religio is a matter of inner disposition, not outward attire, and although a uniform habit may serve to reflect the inner unity of religious communities, it is unnecessary for recluses.

[8] P. 96-116 Ancrene Wisse is divided into eight parts (distinctiones): i) devotions ii) the custody of the senses iii) a comparison of recluses to birds based on Ps. 101: 7 iv) temptation v) confession vi) penance vii) purity of heart and the love of Christ viii) the outer rule.