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The Renaissance Bible

Scholarship, Sacrifice, and Subjectivity

Debora Kuller Shuger

Publication Year: 2010

First published in 1998 by the University of California Press, The Renaissance Bible skillfully navigates the immense but neglected materials spanning the gap between medieval biblical scholarship and the rise of Higher Criticism. Debora Kuller Shuger powerfully demonstrates the disciplinary fusion of Renaissance biblical scholarship—in which the Bible remained the primary locus for cultural, anthropological, and psychological reflection—against modern historians’ penchant for bracketing all things religious when reimagining the Renaissance world. Despite the considerable ground she covers and the interdisciplinary nature of her subject, Shuger never roves. Her penetrating focus casts remarkable light on her subject, especially Renaissance writers’ use of the Passion. Their concerns emerge as surprisingly contemporary, inviting the reader to reflect on such relevant topics as selfhood, violence, and gender.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Front Matter

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Table of Contents

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List of Figures

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pp. xiii


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pp. xv

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pp. 1-10

Modern society, at least in the West, emerges out of the differentiation between church and state. In the late twentieth century, Americans presuppose this separation along with the consequent confinement of religion to private beliefs. Writing this book has been a lengthy struggle with this rupture; I am a Christian...

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1. After Allegory: New Testament Scholarship in the Renaissance

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pp. 11-53

Early modern biblical scholarship has never attracted much attention. Some information is available on the origins of humanist exegesis; the growing interest during the late Middle Ages in the literal sense of the Hebrew Old Testament has been well documented, as has Valla's application of philological techniques to the Vulgate New Testament, continued and broadened by Erasmus in the early sixteenth century.l But the history of biblical interpretation...

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2. The Key to All Mythologies

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pp. 54-88

One notes some stylistic differences between the two passages; the prose of the second excerpt is more luxuriant and richer in cultural detail. But the overall similarity seems evident. Both contain the same lists of ancient or primitive sacrificial rituals, the same marshaling of ethnographic evidence to support a general theory...

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3. The Death of Christ

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pp. 89-127

Calvinist piety in England produced only a handful of passion narratives during the period stretching from the mid-sixteenth century through the Civil Wars. The figure of the crucified Jesus slips to the margins of English Protestantism, which favored dogmatic theology and devotional introspection over retelling the story of Christ's suffering and death-the pervasive focus of late medieval....

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4. Iphigenia in Israel

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pp. 128-166

Donne's fourth Holy Sonnet ends with the curious, if unambiguous, couplet: "Or wash thee in Christs blood, which hath this might I That being red, it dyes red soules to white."] This seems an unlikely sort of washing, but since the previous line equates "red" with "blushing" -that is, penitence- the distich evidently means something along the lines of "Christ's atonement is able to...

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5. Saints and Lovers: Mary Magdalene and the Ovidian Evangel

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pp. 167-191

I was teaching at the University of Arkansas in 1988-89, the year the movie version of Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ came out. There were, as I recall, protests throughout the state against the movie's notorious dream sequence in which Christ and Mary Magdalene make love. At the university,...

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pp. 192-196

The preceding chapters follow a more or less reverse chronological order from late Renaissance exegesis to the early thirteenth-century Magdalene homily. This unusual, and quite accidental, dispositio makes it tempting to conclude by simply rearranging the material sequentially as a historical progression according...

Appendix: Table of Contents from the 1698 Critici sacri

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pp. 197-203


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pp. 205-259


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pp. 261-280


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pp. 281-287


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pp. 289-297

E-ISBN-13: 9781602584921
E-ISBN-10: 1602584923
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602583092
Print-ISBN-10: 1602583099

Page Count: 313
Illustrations: 6 b/w images
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1