Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

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Culpable gloom

From Leithart

“Follow the ways of your heart and what your eyes see; and know that on account of all these, God will bring you into judgment.” The last part of this is often taken as a warning about the limits of joy and pleasure-taking. Seow thinks otherwise: “Human beings are supposed to . . . . Continue Reading »

Calvinist Proof Text

From Leithart

Ecclesiastes 11:5 emphasizes the limitations of human knowledge by emphasizing that God works everything: “you do not know the works of God (ELOHIM) who does all (Y’SH ET-HAKOL).” There are two possible translations of the last relative clause: 1) “who does all.” If we . . . . Continue Reading »

Portions to eight

From Leithart

I saw a man hoarding his treaures, building bigger barns and stuffing his safety deposit boxes and worrying over his portfolio. Disaster struck, and he lost everything because he had everything to lose. He didn’t even have three comforters. I saw a man throwing around his money with abandon, . . . . Continue Reading »

Bread on Waters

From Leithart

I saw a man with a bag of seed. He looked at the sky to discern the weather, and decided tomorrow would be a better day to plant. The next day, he invented instruments to test the humidity and to predict the wind, and decided that tomorrow would be a better day to plant. And tomorrow and tomorrow . . . . Continue Reading »

Historicist Reduction of Freud

From Leithart

As Jones presents it, the logic of repression of sexual desires is as follows: 1) The desires are most likely to be repressed are those that are socially disapproved, disapproved by the “herd.” 2) We unconsciously push back those disapproved desire. The imagery is hydraulic: Repressing . . . . Continue Reading »

What Psychology Taught Us

From Leithart

Ernest Jones notes an essential contribution of modern psychology: “We are beginning to see man not as the smooth, self-acting agent he pretends to be, but as he really is, a creature only dimly conscious of the various influences that mould his thought and action, and blindly resisting with . . . . Continue Reading »

Plus choses changent

From Leithart

Long before Greenblatt and the New Historicists, Shakespeare had been interpreted as a commentator on the religious or political circumstances of Elizabethan England. Among the interpretations of Hamlet summarized by Ernest Jones in his essay on Oedipus and Hamlet (first published in 1910!) are the . . . . Continue Reading »

Jesus’ Thoughts

From Leithart

Donald Macleod offers some intriguing insights in his IVP book on the Person of Christ: In many respects, Jesus’ human knowledge was like our own, as He learned about His Father through revelation: “his own capacity for such knowledge would differ significantly from that of ordinary . . . . Continue Reading »

Hamlet: Act 1

From Leithart

Still more. ACT 1, SCENE 1 Several things about the first scene are worth examining. First, the play begins on a cold and bitter night on the ramparts of Elsinore. The darkness provides a fitting setting for the revelation that the world is out of joint, that something is rotten in the state of . . . . Continue Reading »

Hamlet: Texts

From Leithart

More notes toward a lecture. Shakespeare’s Hamlet exists in three significantly different forms. The earliest published text, the First Quarto or the “Bad Quarto,” appeared in 1603. Though recognizably Shakespeare’s play, it is different in many significant ways, and . . . . Continue Reading »