The use of the Bible in fourteenth-century English secular literature has been surprisingly neglected in the last two decades, largely in response to postwar scholarship carried out under the banner of Robertsonianism and championing allegorical modes of interpretation. Robertsonian exegetics remains (as Lee Patterson said) the “great unfinished business” of medieval literary studies. This essay argues for the rejection of Robertsonianism as an inadequately historicist approach to the medieval Bible, and, by focusing on formal details of the biblical manuscripts evoked in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, it argues that interpretations of the Bible dependent on these codicological forms are more germane to the understanding of Chaucer's text than Robertsonian hermeneutics. Attention to three kinds of manuscript compilations that include biblical material illustrate some of the ways a medieval poet could harness the material forms of books to achieve specific literary ends.

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