The Lord’s Prayer in Circles and Squares: An Identification of some Analogues of the Vernon Manuscript’s Pater Noster Table
Marginalia, vol. 7 (2008)
The representation of theoretical principles within tabular forms and wheel diagrams was common in medieval England, and also on the continent. These forms were part of a long-standing tradition of accepted ways to display information, with their structure encoding information on how to read the contents. This article will consider the reading strategies employed to access and understand tabular and circular, or diagrammatic, representations of the Pater Noster prayer. The Pater Noster was handed down by Jesus to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4) and was thought to contain the devotional material necessary to live a good Christian life. I propose to consider the different reading approaches available to and used by a medieval audience. My case study for this analysis will be the Pater Noster table found on f.231v in the Vernon manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet.a.1). There have been several previous studies of how tables can be read, although their focus tends to be on the tabular tradition and meaning rather than on strategies that can be employed to interpret tables in general and more specifically the Vernon manuscript Pater Noster table.