In the Middle Ages, visionary experience was seen as both a natural and a legitimate means of communication between God and man. Since the invisible God and the spiritual world He dwells in, are without word and image, man’s communication with Him is of necessity mediated. Gods message is hidden in, and at the same time revealed through imagery that is present in the memory of the visionary. The imagery of visionary texts can therefore be best understood by relating it to the ‘texts’ – in the widest semiotic sense: reading, rituals, church decoration – present in the mind and in the surroundings of the visionary. This paper analyses Vision 9 of Hadewijch’s Book of Visions (c. 1250?) by investigating the intertextuality between the visionary text on the one hand, and the ambient ‘texts’ on the other, of which the liturgical text read at the moment of the visionary experience is the most important. This procedure reveals that Hadewijch’s visions are in fact a form of experiential scriptural exegesis.
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