Skip to main content

Citing Scriptures: Shakespeare can cite scripture for his purpose

Actually, I was going to call this kind of article, "The devil can cite scripture for his purpose," or at least, "Shakespeare can cite scripture for his purpose," but it's too long for an article title. So I satisfy myself with "Citing Scripture." I hope it will be a good feature in this blog, since I will write more articles about Shakespeare and the Bible.

So, firstly, what Bible did Shakespeare have? Certainly it's not the renowned King James Bible, because it was first published in 1611. Shakespeare might have used the Bishops Bible, or Geneva Bible as his source, both in English already.

Whatever the Bible he chose as his source, he used it in the way he used every thing - anyway he liked. In Merchant of Venice, Antonio said about Shylock:
"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."
Maybe he was thinking about Matthew 4:6, when Satan used a Bible verse to justify his offer. It's interesting to notice, though, that Shakespeare himself to some extent used the Bible for his own purposes, sometimes putting it in places where it is less expected.

It's difficult to be sure when and where in his text Shakespeare uses the Bible, or is influenced by the Bible.
Instead of insisting that Shakespeare got this or that from the Bible, or Shakespeare quoted this and that for the Bible, I'll just show the relation between the two. Maybe he was thinking about the Bible at that time, or maybe the expression had penetrated into everyday English at that time, or maybe it's just coincidence - doesn't matter. We'll just have fun.

So, keep an eye on this blog for Shakespeare use and misuse of Biblical accounts. 


Popular posts from this blog

Problems with Translating Shakespeare

I've found several articles regarding this on the net. I'm new to the Shakespeare world, therefore I didn't know much about the translation issue.

In the net, there are "study guides" for Shakespeare, such as No Fear Shakespeare which provides students with modern English translation of William Shakespeare. I bet students will find it highly useful, especially those who are not well-acquainted with plays or old classical literatures or writings in verse. Apart from that, I am also aware that there are modern English editions of Shakespeare available in book stores. (I know that accidentally, because I found some quotes on Goodreads which convey Shakespeare's ideas but not in his exact words.)

On the other hand, there are people like David Crystal, which I highly respect (truly I love everything he says about Shakespeare's words and also original pronunciation), who insists that no translation is needed in understanding Shakespeare. There is even a debate …

Henry V: Self-Punishment on the Death of Bardolph

Prince Hal, and later, the king, Henry V is a complex character with volumes to think, say, and analyse about. Following his character development from Henry IV part 1 through Henry V, it's hard not to relate to him when one comes to what people call 'conflict of interests.'

For me, the worst part of it in Henry V is when he heard that his (former) friend, Bardolph, had been executed for thievery. In many productions, the directors let Henry either see the execution, or at least the hanged man. Kenneth Branagh and Hollow Crown versions even take time for a little flashback, therefore show us that the king remembered Bardolph and all things they had done together in their former days. Both also, through acting, show that the king was sad about it, yet could do nothing.

Reading the play, however, it was quite shocking that the king made no comment upon the hanging, except that it was just and necessary.

Why didn't he say anything about it? Knowing Shakespeare, he could h…

Reasons Why I Dislike Falstaff

I understand well enough that Falstaff is a funny comic character, that he provides more jokes than any other character in whole Shakespeare's canon except Hamlet, if those gloomy jokes are still counted as jokes. I also understand how he's an important character because he promotes the view so different than those considered as virtuous in his era. Nevertheless, I never consider him as a likeable character, no matter how much I laugh on him in the two Henry IV plays.

It's just that he's such a bad friend to Prince Hal. And my term "bad friend" means neither "a friend who robs and steals and pickpockets every once in a while" nor "an indifferently good man who doesn't really care about you" which would make him a good acquaintance. No. He takes both the negatives and combines them. Let me show you why I can't like this man despite all his witty lines.

1. He's a bad association to Hal Like this one is not obvious enough(!). I m…