Hamlet and the Prayer Book

More from Targoff, discussing Hamlet’s relation to the differing views of worship in the Elizabethan period. Targoff complains that “what is strikingly, and mistakenly, absent from our accounts of the Elizabethan settlement is precisely what the play interrogates in staging . . . . Continue Reading »

Public and Private Piety

Thanks to Jayson Grieser for sending along notes and quotations from Ramie Targoff’s 2001 Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion in Early Modern England . Targoff points out that, contrary to what we might think, Protestants were more interested than Catholics in communal worship. . . . . Continue Reading »

Calvin and allegory

Calvin is harsher on allegorical interpretation than almost anyone, yet he is all in favor of typology. David, Zedekiah, Joseph, Aaron, Samson, Joshua, Zerubbabel, Cyrus and others are types of Christ. It is no easy task to discover where he draws the line between allegory and typology, though. At . . . . Continue Reading »


“Yahweh” is often thought to be a purely modern rendering of the Hebrew name, but Smalley finds a medieval glossator who writes the name as “Iahave.” She goes on: “The ‘monstrous form’ Jehoveh was already known to Christians in the late thirteenth century. . . . . Continue Reading »

Kids in Mother’s Milk

Aquinas rejected Augustine’s dismisal of literal interpretations of the law as “absurdities,” arguing that “the end of the ceremonial precepts was twofold, for they were ordained to divine worship, for that particular time, and to the foreshadowing of Christ.” Applying . . . . Continue Reading »

Man of Sorrows

Following Jewish exegetes of his time, Andrew of St. Victor interpreted Isaiah 53 as a prophecy of Israel. Isaiah used the phrase “man of sorrows” to speak “of the people as though of one man.” “Bearing infirmities” refers to “the people who were to suffer . . . . Continue Reading »

Exegetical progress

If the fathers have already explained the Scriptures, Andrew of St. Victor asked, why do I need to? He answered that truth dwells “deep” and “screens herself from mortal sight.” There is always more truth to dig up because truth “hides, yet so as never wholly to be . . . . Continue Reading »

Jane Austen, Economist

England’s economy in Austen’s time was still dominated by land ownership. Land was the most settled and permanent form of wealth, and writers like Coleridge and Burke asserted that landownership formed a “natural” governing class that had a physical stake in the nation. In . . . . Continue Reading »

Equality and fashion

In 1767, one N. Foster wrote, “In England the several ranks of men slide into each other almost imperceptibly, and a spirit of equality runs through every part of their constitution. Hence arises a strong emulation in all the several stations and conditions to vie with each other; and the . . . . Continue Reading »

Consumer revolution

In the 1982 symposium, The Birh of a Consumer Society , Neil McKendrick identifies some of the chief features of the demand-side of the social and economic of the 18th century. What did it mean for England to become a “consumer society”? 1. More people than ever could acquire material . . . . Continue Reading »