Despite the presence of hundreds of Biblical allusions in Shakespeare, this is the first book to explore their pattern and significance in relation to a selection of his greatest plays. It shows that the Bible inspired Shakespeare's uses of myth, history, comedy and tragedy, his techniques for staging, and his ways of characterizing rulers, magicians, and teachers in the image of the Bible's multifaced God. This book also discloses ways in which Shakespeare's plays offer both pious and irreverent interpretation of the Scriptures comparable to those presented by his contemporary writers, artists, philosophers, and politicians.
Despite the presence of hundreds of Biblical allusions in Shakespeare, this is the first book to explore the pattern and significance of those references in relation to a selection of his greatest plays. It reveals the Bible as a rich source for Shakespeare's uses of myth, history, comedy, and tragedy, his techniques of staging, and his ways of characterizing rulers, magicians, and teachers in the image of the Bible's multifaceted God. This book also discloses the ways in which Shakespeare's plays offer both pious and irreverent interpretations of the Scriptures comparable to those presented by his contemporary writers, artists, philosophers and politicians. After an opening chapter comparing the Bible as a fragmented yet unified collection of 46 books with the fragmented yet unified First Folio collection of Shakespeare's 36 plays, each of the following six chapters matches a succeeding book of the Bible with a representative play. This study, though grounded in recent scholarship in Shakespeare and Biblical studies, is addressed to people with limited knowledge of either of its two subjects as well as to experts in both.
Steven Marx is Professor of English at Cal Poly University in California.
"[Marx] moves back and forth between Shakespeare's text and the Old and New Testaments with breathtaking fluidity."-Renaissance Quarterly
"This informed and useful discussion of the Bible's influence upon and interpretation by Shakespeare...offers a brief but substantial consideration of the importance of biblical knowledge to Shakespeare's greatest plays. Like other volumes in the [Oxford Shakespeare Topics] series, Marx's contribution is designed to provide teachers and students with a sufficiently detailed yet succinctly and accessibly written overview of a current topic of interest.... Marx's contribution to the Oxford series effectively achieves the series's stated aims in a lively and engaging sequence of close readings in context. Students and teachers will doubtless find much of interest here, and, indeed, every teacher of Shakespeare and of the Bible in literature would likely profit from Marx's careful and accessible observations and insights."--South Atlantic Review
"Perhaps my favorite among the new Shakespeare Topics series is Shakespeare and the Bible.... In a tour-de-force of interpretation, [Marx] shows how [the First Folio] was modeled on the new King James Bible."--Tom D'Evelyn, The Providence Journal
"Admirably accessible to both students and teachers.... Scholars will find useful insights into how Shakespeare mined scripture for characterization, theme, allusion, and even dramatic structure in six major plays.... This book provides fresh readings that illuminate both the biblical text and the plays, works too often limited by received ideas, and suggests avenues for future study of Shakespeare's use of the Bible."--Sixteenth Century Journal
"The work is equally about the Bible and Shakespeare. Marx is expert in both.... It is a beautifully organized introduction to the issues that is addresses. It is a tribute to Marx to have covered so much territory so succinctly."--Christianity and Literature
"The book is a welcome, creative exploration of Scripture's bearing on the Bard, an Elizabethan humanist who transposed biblical theology into an anthropological key."--Theology Today
"Shakespeare and the Bible is a perfect example of the kind of refreshing and important work still needed in Shakespearean studies.... A comprehensive and insightful contribution to Shakespearean scholarship [and] should be recommended reading for any serious Shakespearean. For students, the terms are clearly defined, and the subject is made approachable. It would make a wonderful introduction to the world of interdisciplinary studies, especially at a time when students are far too reliant on the footnotes of editors. Shakespeare specialists will also benefit from this reading. Whether as an aid in teaching, research, or interpretation, Marx's book is a strong resource. Most importantly, an improved understanding of the plays, and perhaps the Bible, is everyone's reward."--Criticism
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