This article examines A Ladder of Foure Ronges, a fifteenth-century devotional text translated from the Latin Scala Claustralium, a manual on contemplative union with God written by Guigo II, the ninth prior of the Grande Chartreuse. I will argue that the Middle English text deploys a number of strategies to appeal to a wider range of audiences than that once envisioned by Guigo II, who directed the Latin text to his fellow Carthusian monks. The Ladder is extremely reader-friendly in many ways: it clarifies the biblical allusions, translates biblical passages, foregrounds the spiritual dimension of meditation in such a way that everyone can have divine bliss under the proper procedures, and expounds those theological topics which the translator thought should be explained in detail, most notably the issue of Gods grace and free will. Gods grace provides the translator with the opportunity to discuss that even the unlettered can hope to attain to divine grace by 'doing their best', a much-debated theological issue in the later Middle Ages. A remarkable departure from the Latin source text, the Ladder participates in one of the major theological discussions at that time, and by doing so tries to reach audience well beyond the wall of the monastery, possibly including the laity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language
- Literature and Literary Theory