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The Living Temple: George Herbert and Catechizing by Stanley Hsh (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1 978. 21 0 pp. $1 1 .50) by Annabel Patterson Let us pretend fora moment, when evaluating this newaccount of The Temple, that the critic's identity is unknown. In this context, Th· Uvtng Temple (with the notable exception of Its final chapter, to which I shall return) reads like a man's first book, and a very good one too. It presents itself, with exactly the right mixture of diffidence and confidence, as an original contribution to Herbert studies; it begins by defining the previous critical history, thereby locating a space which the new contribution is needed to fill; and it ends with a twenty page bibliography, divided into primary and secondary sources. Its scholarship, including forays into the Church Fathers, is apparent in both text and footnotes; and its thesis, so impeccably objectified, commands immediate assent. If not Ih« key to 77»· Temple, another key has clearly been found. It has been lying, unnoticed all this while, in: Reformation catechisms, where the catechistica! process is ubiquitously described in terms of the metaphor of temple-building; in the three catechistica! stages which match the Church Porch Church - Sanctuary sequence ¡n the original Temple; and in Herbert's own catechistica! theory, articulated inA Prioetto the Templo, where "the Parson Catechizing" is advised to develop a Christianized version of the Socratic method, and with a chain of predetermined questions to draw out "the seeds of truth" in his ignorant parishioners. In this "recovery of a single tradition" explanations are to be found for a considerable number of the problems which have puzzled Herbert scholars. Most obviously, Herbert's title and governing metaphor are thereby firmly linked to a pedagogical intention, explicit in "A verse may finde him, whoa sermon flies" ("The Church-porch," line 5). The location of some of the poems, notably "The Altar," ceases to be problematical when we no longerconceive of the Temple as an architectural structure. The vexed question of "The Church 70 REVIEW: THE LIVING TEMPLE Militant" is partly resolved by recognizing it as a remarkable example of the narratio or "history of salvation" which was a standard feature of early catechisms, and which, as defined by Augustine in his DeCatechlzandlsRudlbus, should include the history of the church down to one's own time. (One should note, however, that this explains only the content, not the position of "The Church Militant," and leaves unsettled its relationship to the third, or Sanctuary, stage of Christian initiation.) More subtly, it is argued in the first chapter that the catechistica! model allows us to resolve the tension found In many of the Templo lyrics between unanticipated spiritual development ("surprise") and predetermined poetic form ("strategy"). The apparent contradiction between these two aspects, a contradiction which has divided most previous Herbert critics, disappears, It is suggested, ¡f the two aspects are "parcelled out"; that is, if they are not assumed to be the exclusive property either of a formal structure or of a single personality, but of a "situation." "Strategy" then becomes the property of "The Parson Catechizing," or of the great Strategist whose office he performs; "surprise" becomes the experience of the catechumen or the reader who relives it in the temporal sequence of his own understanding. Th· LMng Temple has, then, an informed, a sophisticated, and a mediatorial offer to make us, and it would be both improvident and ungenerous not to accept the terms on which it is offered. But (and there is always a but) this is nota man's first book. It is instead Stanley Fish's fifth book, and the second time he has been in print a reader of Herbert's poetry, (!except the two prospectus articles which appeared, one in this journal, after the catechism discovery was made.) To those of us who have learned from Surprised by SIn and Setf-Consumfng Artifacts a whole new way of thinking about seventeenth-century texts, and a wholly new way of writing (disarmingly and demandingly colloquial), this new book will inevitably be something of a downer. Not only is ¡t an old-fashioned book; it is also very quickly...


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