Abstract and Keywords
For early moderns, the scriptures offered not only a means to live well but a resource to address morally complex problems. Interpreters faced the difficulty, however, of abundant instances in which biblical characters lie, cheat, and are underhand. Techniques to mitigate or explain these moments were rooted in Augustine’s typological and figurative readings of the Old Testament. In this context, John Saltmarsh’s The Practice of Policie in a Christian Life, Taught from the Scriptures (1639), stands out as an attempt to do for the Bible what Machiavelli did for Livy, animating it as a guide to political manoeuvre, and wrenching examples from their context in order to achieve unlikely lessons in realpolitik. Yet, Killeen shows, Saltmarsh was scarcely an irreligious cynic; his approach to the Bible is based in early modern understandings which distinguished between local narrative instances and the overall purpose of the Word of God.
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