Horace Jeffery Hodges, "Kinsman as 'Redeemer in Piers Plowman, Passus 18"


In Passus 18 of Piers Plowman, William Langland implicitly affirms universal salvation. The paper investigates what might lie behind Langland's position, which contradicts the Church’s official teaching of limited salvation. At least three things may influence his views on kinship: the biblical concept of the kinsman-redeemer; Anselm’s theological opinions on salvation; and Anglo-Saxon culture’s emphasis upon kinship obligations. The third influence seems the strongest, for Langland has Christ implicitly affirm universal salvation because all of mankind are his blood kin. The Anglo-Saxon cultural factor would therefore appear to provide the key to understanding Langland's belief in universal salvation.