The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature

By McEntyre, Marilyn | The Christian Century, July 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature


McEntyre, Marilyn, The Christian Century


The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature

Edited by Rebecca Lemon, Emma Mason, Jonathan Roberts and Christopher Rowland

Wiley-Blackwell, 720 pp., $46.95 paperback

Biblical material pervades the works of English literature. Bible stories have been retold, recast and reinterpreted. Biblical images have lent their resonance and biblical phrases their rhetorical power to works as various as George Herbert's devotional poems, John Dryden's acerbic political commentaries and T. S. Eliot's verse dramas. Characters in English plays and novels reembody and reinvigorate biblical archetypes and prototypes and thus acquire theological depth.

Readers of every generation have wrestled with the shifting, often uneasy relationship between the sacred text and its distant, secular kin. Even where its unique status is undisputed, the Bible has been tugged and pulled at by translators who have come to blows over single words, by playwrights who have stretched the limits of poetic license, by novelists who have twisted parables into complex plotlines, and by clerics who have seasoned exegesis with imagination. The Bible has been appropriated and assimilated, translated and paraphrased, edited for children and enacted on stage. Its malleability is a fair measure of its indestructibility.

Every now and again, the impulse to trace biblical stories through the thickets and deep woods of English literature results in a flurry of invitations to scholars to have a fresh go at an old conversation. Together they address questions that remain startlingly relevant. What has Paradise Lost to do with Genesis 2 and 3--and what has either to do with us? What can we learn about moral theology from a Victorian lady who lived with her lover, wrote novels, and lurked at the edges of popular academic debates? And how are we to understand T. S. Eliot's disturbing insistence that "Love is the unfamiliar name/ ... that human power cannot remove"?

If readers are willing to peer behind its dry title, they will enjoy in The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature the fruits of those scholarly conversations. This collection of sprightly, informative, thoughtful reflections on what English writers have done to and with the Bible is an inspiration to reread the original texts, which, I believe, is still the primary aim of good critical writing.

John Drury's chapter on Herbert, for instance, reintroduces Herbert's much loved and much discussed poems with a touching back story: when Herbert was dying, he entrusted the poems to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, allowing him to publish the "little book" if he thought it would help people in their struggles and afflictions. Drury quotes Ferrar's response to this legacy--"He loved that which God himself hath magnified above all things, that is, his Word"--and draws attention not only to lines where Herbert's biblical references are explicit but also to the "wealth of covert biblical references" whose detection require a "scripturally informed eye."

The volume presents a wide variety of perspectives from scripturally informed writers who have surveyed a broad literary landscape and know its topography well. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.