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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. 


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