What role did allegory play in the theological and visionary writings of Hildegard og Bingen? Dinah Wouters offer a new interpretation of the visionary’s writings.
Allegorical Form and Theory in Hildegard of Bingen’s Books of Visions
By Dinah Wouters
Palgrave Macmillan 2022
This book analyses how the three books of visions by Hildegard of Bingen use the allegorical vision as a form of knowledge. It describes how the visionary’s use of allegory and allegorical exegesis is linked to theories of cognition, interpretation, and prophecy. It argues that the form of the allegorical vision is not just the product of a medieval symbolic mentality, but specific to Hildegard’s position and the major transformations taking place in the prescholastic intellectual milieu, such as the changing use of Scripture or the shift from traditional hermeneutics to cognitive language philosophy.
The goal of this book is to study Hildegard’s systematic use of allegory both as specific to her unique position as a female visionary, prophet, and author, and as a manifestation of the restructuring of literature and knowledge during the twelfth century.
The book shows that Hildegard uses traditional forms of knowledge – prophecy, the vision, monastic theology, allegorical hermeneutics – in startlingly innovative ways by combining them and by revising them for her own time.
Detail of Hildegard of Bingen’s Theophany of Divine Love. From Liber Divinorum Operum I.1. Source: Wikipedia/Web Gallery of Art (Original in Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942, fol. 1v (early 13th-cen.)