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The Political Bible in Early Modern England

Part of Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History

  • Date Published: December 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107107977

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  • This illuminating new study considers the Bible as a political document in seventeenth-century England, revealing how the religious text provided a key language of political debate and played a critical role in shaping early modern political thinking. Kevin Killeen demonstrates how biblical kings were as important in the era's political thought as any classical model. The book mines the rich and neglected resources of early modern quasi-scriptural writings - treatise, sermon, commentary, annotation, poetry and political tract - to show how deeply embedded this political vocabulary remained, across the century, from top to bottom and across all religious positions. It shows how constitutional thought, in this most tumultuous era of civil war, regicide and republic, was forged on the Bible, and how writers ranging from King James, Joseph Hall or John Milton to Robert Filmer and Thomas Hobbes can be better understood in the context of such vigorous biblical discourse.

    • Explores the Bible as an important source of political thought throughout the seventeenth century
    • Sheds new light on political discourse across classes that is wholly distinct from the classical languages of political thought
    • Draws on a large cross-section of little-known writing from the seventeenth century to help readers make sense of the large amount and strangeness of early modern biblical writing
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Through deep research this book uncovers the far-reaching yet surprisingly neglected contribution of the Bible to the political thinking of early-modern England, from justifications for regicide to responsibility for plague victims: a wide-ranging and illuminating work.' Paul Hammond, University of Leeds

    'An important supplement, and corrective, to recent scholarship on the Classical-republican foundations of early modern political thought. Killeen's magisterial study of how seventeenth-century Englishmen read their Old Testament, with its often murderous and often murdered kings, both illuminates and defamiliarizes the era's discourses of liberty and oppression, property and prerogative, divine right and prophetic defiance.' Debora Shuger, University of California, Los Angeles

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107107977
    • length: 322 pages
    • dimensions: 238 x 157 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the political bible
    2. Early modern hermeneutics and the Old Testament
    3. The sermon, the listener and enemy theory in the Thirty Years War
    4. Hezekiah, the politics of municipal plague and the London poor
    5. Constitution and resistance: the language of Civil War political thought
    6. Dividing the kingdom: Rehoboam and Jeroboam
    7. Hanging up kings: regicide and political memory
    8. Preaching on the ramparts: Hezekiah at war
    9. How Jezebel became sexy: Ahab, Naboth's land and Jezebelian hermeneutics
    10. Conclusion
    Appendix. Chronology of Biblical kings
    Bibliography
    Index.

  • Author

    Kevin Killeen, University of York
    Kevin Killeen is a Senior Lecturer at the University of York. He is the author of Biblical Scholarship, Science and Politics in Early Modern England: Thomas Browne and the Thorny Place of Knowledge (2009), which won the Council for College and University English Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize of the History of Science Society. He is editor of the Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, c.1530–1700 (with Helen Smith and Rachel Judith Willie, 2015) and Thomas Browne: Oxford 21st Century Authors (2014), and has won both the Council of University Deans Prize and the Renaissance Studies essay prize.

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