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HUMANITIES 457 Hymeneutics is very much the book of the thesis. Its scope is very restricted, its theoretical model rigidly applied. The language of New Historicism, with its strategies of containment resistance, inscription, reinscription, coding, and so forth becomes repetitive. But when Loughlin looks a little outside her parameters, something more interesting starts to take shape, as in the discussion of Megra's role in Phi/aster and the challenge she offers to the King's 'representational authority' through her threats of disseminating public scandal through the press. The fact that the footnotes are often exceptionally full and informative suggests that Loughlin had more material to debate~ though she could not contain it within the boundaries she had imposed on herself for her text. (SANDRA CLARK) Linda Munk. The Devil's Mollsetrap: Redemption muf Colonial Amen'am Literature Oxford University Press. xiv, 144ยท $51.95 This is a dancing book, which runs forwards and backwards between two levels. The first of these is a triple study of three great American Protestant divines, Jonathan Edwards, Increase Mather, and Edward Taylor, and their use of the Old Testament as a Christian book, as a collection of types and shadows prefiguring the New. The second level is the whole body ofJewish and Christian erudition which lies behind them, as they drew upon the Rabbis and echoed the Greek and Latin Fathers in an understanding of scripture at a depth of allegory and symbol profounder than the historical or literaL Linda Munk is an expert in the modern method, which seeks out the precise meaning of the text, but her work is by no means dryasdust and has an imaginative richness of texture in its almost sensual pleasure in the meanings and associations of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin words, as they were reinterpreted down the ages. This makes the argument difficult to sununarjze, for it is carried along by a hunt from word to word, as the author recreates a world in which words had meanings in and above and be]ow their definite and obvious sense. The mousetrap of the title is taken from Augustine, to whom it was Christ's cross, a trap to ensnare the devil, a reading suggested by the preVulgate Latin psalter, and later depicted in the Merode altarpiece, in which St Joseph is an artisan making mousetraps. But the mousetrap leads the reader to the theme of Christ's ransom for sin, through the Old and New Testament words and images of redemption, of the Paschal Lamb and the crossing of the Red Sea, to the brazen serpent which, again, prefigures Christ's cross, and so back to the mousetrap of the title. The reader is now well prepared for a roller-coaster course in three thousand years of Jewish and Christian scholarship and theology. TI1e study of Edwards is chiefly devoted to his understanding of the angelic appearances of the Old Testament as Christ. Increase Mather's millennialexpectations drew largely 458 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 on his expectation of the conversion of the Jews as a precondition of the Second Coming, while for Edward Taylor, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles coincided with Christ's birth, and was the very image of both the Messiah's return for Jews and of the Incarnation enunciated by StJohn, in the union of the two natures, divine and human, in Christ. What are noticeable are the many parallels between Jewish and Christian exegesis, as Christians freely borrowed from the Rabbis, and as both rejoiced in the display of an associative wealth of metaphor and symbol, which take the reader back and forth across the centuries. Despite the Puritans' ferocious No Popery, this is the best sort of ecumenical religion, in which Christians were copyists of the very Jews they despised, and the Puritans were heirs to the very Catholicism which they rejected. In this, Munk's work is like the scholarship on poetry in which the scholar elucidates the poet's saturation in the linguistic waters of an age-old tradition. Thus by a paradox, the book employs modem historical criticism to recover the freshness and vitality of an older method of biblical exegesis which rose above the literat in a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 457-458
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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