John Wyclif’s Neoplatonic View of Scripture in its Christological Context
Christopher Levy, Ian (Lexington Theological Seminary)
Medieval Philosophy and Theology 11 (2003)
John Wyclif’s metaphysical realism is well documented, as is the role it plays in his biblical exegesis. Indeed, notable scholars have observed how Wyclif’s Christian Neoplatonism goes hand in hand with his view of Scripture. What has not received due attention is the way in which Wyclif’s understanding of universals corresponds to his specifically Christological view of Scripture. In fact, Wyclif’s threefold system of universals bears a striking similarity to that outlined by the sixth-century Neoplatonist Simplicius, and, in turn, corresponds markedly to Wyclif’s division of Scripture into five and three levels. As we shall see, because Wyclif equates Scripture with Christ the Word, in whom all the divine ideas dwell, such an equation results in a very dynamic view of Scripture. For rather than subsisting as a static eternal book, Scripture, in its different levels, functions as a vital extrapolation of Christ theWord.
In this article, I have three basic objectives. The first is to show the similarity between Wyclif’s theory of universals and the Neoplatonic model presented by Simplicius. Secondly, I plan to examine the place of Christ the Word within that system. Having done these things, the stage is set for demonstrating the connection between Wyclif’s system of universals and his understanding of Scripture’s own nature and composition.