‘A comely gate to so rich and glorious a citie’: The Paratextual Architecture of the Rheims New Testament and the King James Bible
This chapter examines Miles Smith’s King James Bible preface, ‘The Translators to the Reader’, excavating the polemical, hermeneutic, and literary contexts that frame the preface and determine its rhetoric, style, and tone. Smith’s preface took shape in response to successive installments of the Catholic Douai-Rheims translation and the Sistine Vulgate of 1590, and drew on classic Protestant principles of argument and exegesis. At stake in these debates was the question of a textual and doctrinal return ad fontes, as both Reformed and Roman polemicists claimed the authority of the early church for their cause. In a detailed examination of the paratexts of the Rheims New Testament and the King James Bible, a compelling case study of the debates surrounding reform and interpretation is provided.
This chapter explores the inaugural moment for the English Reformation, and for the rendering of the scriptures in English within a national church. In May 1530, Henry VIII began to suggest that it was his duty to cause the New Testament to be translated into English for his subjects, marking a hesitant and reluctant shift towards a possible translation of the Bible. The King’s suggestion was met with opposition from senior churchmen on the one hand, and frustration by English evangelicals on the other, and Henry subsequently imposed legislation that limited Bible reading. This chapter examines the complex issues involved in the protocols that governed how scripture was disseminated to the laity.
Kim Ian Parker
This chapter deals with the largely neglected field of political Hebraism. Biblical citations are ubiquitous in virtually all political discussion in the seventeenth century, yet the political uses of Hebraic scholarship have been more or less absent from scholarship until recent years. The post-Reformation era, with its emphasis on sola scriptura, placed the Bible squarely in the centre of culture. One of the main issues for early modern political theorists was whether God approved or disapproved of a monarchy, based on their interpretation of Deuteronomy 17 and I Samuel 8. This chapter discusses the influence of political Hebraism on some influential seventeenth-century thinkers in England and argues that the Bible played an influential role in the formation of early modern political thought in the West as transmitted through the idea of the rebirth of the Hebrew Republic.
The divorce tracts, which consist of four prose pamphlets published between August 1643 and March 1645, represent a significant and underappreciated development in John Milton's theorizing of liberty. His arguments raise issues not only of family harmony, but also of political commitment. This article explores the emotional and political breakthroughs and sunderings visible in, and prompted by, these texts. Milton's tracts became the centre of a storm of anti-sectarianism, and were held up for ridicule as a harbinger of anarchy. They also engaged the stricken political realm. In recontextualizing Milton's divorce writings, the article places his analysis of irremediable difference, both on a personal and political level, in relation to the practical political work of the day. It also helps to explain the larger, both more local and more philosophical, significance of Milton's analogy between the marriage contract and the contract of civil obedience to the magistrate.
The sketch of prosodic theory presented in this article helps to clarify how the blank verse of Paradise Lost is virtually a new beginning and transmits a quite un-Shakespearean energy. Prosodic analysis shows that John Milton ranges freely within his chosen limits: there is no iambic jog-trot, and the rhythms are endlessly varied. The verse of Paradise Lost is distinguished by the sustained length of its sentences, which are on average about ten lines long, despite the frequent use of short sentences for rhetorical effect. Its blank verse is a deliberate and distinctive creation, influenced by but antithetical to late Shakespeare, through working within a strict discipline. Prosody and syntax are almost inseparable in effect in Paradise Lost.
Ann Baynes Coiro
John Milton put A Maske presented at Ludlow Castle in the middle of his authorial identity when he announced that he was an important writer. A Maske has often been linked with Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue. John Fletcher's The Faithful Shepherdess was one of Milton's favourite plays and reading it can feel like a phantasmagoric encounter with Milton's Maske. The points of intersection between Coelum Britannicum and A Maske show the difference between the sceptical courtier and the romantic humanist. A Maske is the crucial nexus of Milton's two great English influences: Spenser's pastoral romance and Shakespeare's richly human drama. The most fascinating feature of the masque is the Lady. The masque's reversion to a conventional deus ex machina (Sabrina, or, if necessary, Heaven) only underscores retrospectively the boldness of Milton's most original creation in A Maske, a real woman acting nobly in the world.
This article focuses on the Ranters, who have been described as ‘forming the extreme left wing of the sects’, both theologically and politically. Combining a ‘pantheistic mysticism and a crudely plebeian materialism’ with a ‘deep concern for the poor’ and a ‘primitive biblical communism’, the ‘Ranter Movement’ spectacularly manifested itself in late 1649, peaked the next year, and then splintered under the hammer of ‘savage repression’ Special attention is given to Abiezer Coppe (1619–72?), whom some contemporaries regarded as a fiery sectarian preacher turned diabolically possessed mad libertine. So blackened was Coppe's name that in the late eighteenth century he was still remembered as one of the wildest enthusiasts of a fanatical age. Nineteenth-century critics concurred with this verdict, calling Coppe a ‘strange enthusiast’ and the ‘great Ranter’.
This article discusses the satires of Samuel Butler, Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden. All three authors convey a strongly satirical take on the volatile Zeitgeist — its mood of damaged and shaky authority — but their modes of rejection are politically and stylistically distinct. Butler tends toward a poetics of the absurd that drains recent events of larger meaning. Marvell's satirical processing of historical reversals emphasizes a piquant element of the perverse. Dryden favours a counterpoint of the grotesque and baroque. Each of the three satirists tends to pit the small and the domestic against the overblown. All three reject what they see as brainless attitudes toward recent history, narcotized manifestations of the oblivious, the forgetful, and the soothingly dull. There can be no question in their satires of merely rehabilitating the mystique of olden times. And though their satires reject present-day chaos, they do so by way of trying out newly domesticated and denaturalized configurations of authority.
When Quince first meets his actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he tells them who they will be playing and a little about their fictional characters. He also distributes to the actors their ‘parts’, the pieces of paper on which their words are written. Walking away from the meeting, the actors take their paper parts with them for memorising at home: by the time they next gather together, each player must be word-perfect. So the players are going to learn from a text that is only ‘part’ of the play — an idea so strange to scholars that it is still regularly called into question. Passages in plays of the time referring to what is rehearsed often suggest that the verbal content of a play is not the emphasis of collective rehearsal; that a general rehearsal is largely intended to determine action that affects the group. Parts had their effect on the way a performance was watched. With parts informing so fundamentally the way actors performed and audiences watched, they must also have affected the way playwrights wrote.
Despite the fact that the London theatre companies were suspended from playing by order of Parliament in September 1642, an inhibition that lasted (with minor infractions) down to 1660, the seventeen years of theatrical activity during the Caroline period was a time of comparative prosperity and stability. The stability of Caroline playing was in some respects more apparent than real, since before the onset of the political crisis there were various factors that troubled theatrical activity (plague, competition between companies, conflicts between companies and managers, complaints from local residents). Nonetheless, around 1630 the total theatrical economy had achieved what we might think of as a steady state. When in that year the Salisbury Court playhouse in Whitefriars was opened as a new venture, the number of theatres and playing companies operating was at its peak and would remain stable for the next decade. During this period, five companies were active, performing at six venues. The dominant company was the King's Men, who alternated between two playhouses.