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Transformations in Biblical Literary Traditions

Incarnation, Narrative, and Ethics--Essays in Honor of David Lyle Jeffrey

D. H. Williams

Publication Year: 2014

For more than four decades, David Lyle Jeffrey has enriched the world of Christian scholarship. Throughout his work, Jeffrey has drawn attention to the ways in which imaginative engagements with biblical texts have been central to major shifts in Christian and post-Christian hermeneutics, ethics, and aesthetics. The purpose of this volume is to challenge and deepen that growing discourse by showing how English literature across varied traditions unfolds a central Christian interaction between divine Incarnation, invented narrative, and ethical praxis. In their essays, the authors demonstrate how an imaginative engagement with biblical narratives, in historical or contemporary writing, continues to provide a fruitful means to address the intellectual and ethical antinomies of the postmodern scene. The articles in this collection form two groups: the first set of essays focus on specific episodes or moments of historical change within European biblical literary traditions; the second group focuses on the dissemination of biblical literary engagements in areas outside of European contexts, ranging from North America to South Africa to China. Unique in the wide range of topics it covers—itself a reflection of Jeffrey’s own broad scope of scholarship—the collection functions as a working example of Jeffrey’s thesis that the biblical tradition has a far-reaching influence on the development of Western literature, even by those who are reluctant to acknowledge its present influence.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The editors wish to express their appreciation to Mrs. Katherine Jeffrey for her assistance in providing biographical information and suggestions in the course of preparing the introduction. Oxford University Press kindly gave permission for our use of a version from Eleonore Stump’s Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering (2010). We also thank...

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pp. 1-12

Assembling a group of essays in honor of a colleague is always an untidy process. Even when the essays fall within a relatively similar purview of interest, such a project necessarily involves a broad range of expertise. The same sort of collection becomes untidier still when the subject of honor is himself accomplished in a broad array of subjects. This is the proud plight...

Part I: European Biblical Cultures: Interventions in Traditions

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Chapter 1: Latin Pedagogy and Ethical Endsin the “Royal Grammar” (1542)

Phillip J. Donnelly

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pp. 15-41

In People of the Book: Christian Identity and Literary Culture, David Jeffrey points out that contemporary critical theory and practice typically misrepresent Christian understandings of textual interpretation. This misrepresentation arises from a tendency to reduce all interpretation to an opposition between a belief in either the presence of complete meaning...

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Chapter 2: “Propter nos” and Paradise Lost: Reading and Inhabiting “This Pendent World”

Dennis Danielson

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pp. 42-59

When I was a young Milton scholar embarking on my first academic job, a valued colleague and former teacher gave me a collection he had just published, which opened with a chapter titled “The Self and the Book: Reference and Recognition in Medieval Thought.”1 That essay, by David Lyle Jeffrey, thenceforth informed my scholarly interests, including those related...

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Chapter 3: Books and Their Readers: Visual Storytelling in the Copenhagen Ovide moralisé

K. Sarah-Jane Murray, Tyler F. Walton

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pp. 60-95

Like Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Ovide moralisé (Moralized Ovid) in verse occupies a strategic place in the intellectual tradition of Western Europe. We assume it to be the work of a single poet (probably a Franciscan friar) who was educated at, or at least maintained close ties with, the University of Paris.1 An inscription at the beginning of MS Paris BNF fr. 24306 indicates it...

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Chapter 4: Backing into the Future: Romanticism, Secularization, and the Reinvention of Literature

Stephen Prickett

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pp. 96-110

In his Third Critique, Kant assumes that literature—and specifically poetry—is naturally the premier art form, encapsulating in essence all the other arts. Here is what he says about poetry:

It expands the mind by setting the imagination at liberty and by offering within the limits of a given concept, amid the unbounded variety of...

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Chapter 5: Did Napoleon Exist? An Episode in the History of Exegesis

John V. Fleming

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pp. 111-158

To begin an essay honoring the editor of the Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature with the observation that the Bible has had a large impact on the shape of English literature would perhaps be both vain and otiose. More fruitful, perhaps, would be an attempt to achieve some increment, however modest, in our understanding of the “literary” impact...

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Chapter 6: The Nouvelle Humanism of Henri de Lubac and G.K. Chesterton

Ralph C. Wood

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pp. 159-189

Soon after I first met David Jeffrey in 1997, he told me a curious story about his various encounters with Jacques Maritain while he was working on his doctorate at Princeton. Then ensconced at the Institute for Advanced Study, Maritain would occasionally notice Jeffrey bearing copies of Henri de Lubac’s work in his arms, especially his magisterial four-volume...

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Chapter 7: “A Brother Helped by a Brother”: Friendship and the City in the Fiction of the Inklings

Dominic Manganiello

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pp. 190-212

“A brother helped by a brother is like a strong city” (Prov. 18:19 RSV). I take my cue from this striking passage in the Book of Proverbs in order to examine how the notion of a polity built on the foundation of friendship, first advanced by Aristotle, is translated and expanded in a biblical context to include not only the relation between fellow citizens but also between...

Part II: Dissemination of Biblical Traditions: West and East

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Chapter 8: Revelation of the Word: “What’s at Stake” in the Study of the Bible and English Literature

Gregory Maillet

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pp. 215-228

Students in the always challenging graduate seminars of David Lyle Jeffrey at the University of Ottawa, where I was fortunate to study with him in the mid-1990s, will fondly recall, or in some cases nervously attempt to forget, the persistent repetition of an apparently simple question: “What’s at stake?” Never more than briefly flabbergasted by our characteristically...

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Chapter 9: The Bible in Canada and the United States

Mark A. Noll

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pp. 229-245

David Lyle Jeffrey’s illuminating scholarship on scripture in Western culture has only rarely touched on themes closest to his homes in Canada and the United States. Those rare occasions include perceptive essays on how the Bible and more general Christian themes have functioned for the notable Canadian writers Rudy Wiebe and Margaret...

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Chapter 10: Samson and Self-Destroying Evil

Eleonore Stump

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pp. 246-267

It is a pleasure to participate in honoring David Jeffrey, whom I have known and honored for many years. His work has great range, as well as depth and creativity; but I especially admire his work on biblical texts and his willingness to employ a range of methodologies in scholarship on those texts. The philosophical and literary investigation of the biblical narrative...

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Chapter 11: Medieval Biblical Drama in Post-Apartheid South Africa: The Chester Plays in Afterlife

Theresa Coletti

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pp. 268-288

In the late 1990s Mark Dornford-May and Charles Hazelwood, artistic and musical directors, respectively, of London’s Broomhill Opera, went to South Africa with the goal of forming an indigenous theatrical company. Under the auspices of the South African Academy of the Performing Arts, Dornford-May and Hazelwood auditioned nearly two thousand people...

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Chapter 12: Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and Religion in China

Yang Huilin

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pp. 289-298

The interaction between literature and religion has attracted the attention of Chinese scholars in recent years. I became interested and involved in this area because of the friends I met at conferences on literature and religion. David Jeffrey is one of those friends, and he later greatly supported the momentum of projects of this kind in China, such as the editorial work of the...

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Chapter 13: Friend and Guide: Professor David L. Jeffrey and China

Liu Yi-Qing

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pp. 299-305

It is my great pleasure to contribute to this collection of essays in honor of Professor David L. Jeffrey, a longtime friend and guide in my work as a teacher and scholar in the Department of English at Peking University.
I met David in fall 1994 at the Yenching International Symposium on Western Literature and Christianity. This was one of the first international...

Bibliography of David Lyle Jeffrey’s Published Works

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pp. 306-321

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pp. 322-326

Theresa Coletti is Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of Naming the Rose: Eco, Medieval Signs, and Modern Theory (Cornell, 1988), Mary Magdalene and the Drama of Saints: Theater, Gender, and Religion in Late Medieval England (Pennsylvania, 2004), and over fifty articles and reviews in edited collections and...


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pp. 327-348

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780268096717
E-ISBN-10: 0268096716
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268044282
Print-ISBN-10: 0268044287

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 8 halftones
Publication Year: 2014