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literature and theology


Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631198963.2005.x


During the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, literature and theology belonged in separate compartments. It had not always been so. The artificial barrier which was established between biblical studies and other literary concerns was certainly unknown to Bishop Robert Lowth, who in 1753 published (in Latin) his Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews , or to romantic poets like Blake, Coleridge or Wordsworth (see R omanticism ). In the 1815 Essay Supplementary to the Preface to Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth affirmed ‘the affinities between religion and poetry; between religion-making up the deficiencies of reason by faith; and poetry—passionate for the instruction of reason’. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, especially in the posthumously published Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit of 1840, drew upon German scholarship and in particular the biblical criticism of J.G. Herder, J.G. Eichhorn, G.E. Lessing and F.D.E. Schleiermacher, from Herder specifically drawing an understanding of Verstehen , that imaginative comprehension by which we re-create and re-enter the world of the Bible and make it our own. But in the early nineteenth century, Coleridge and Bishop Connop Thirlwall of St David's stood almost alone in Britain in appreciating the hermeneutic problems of reading Scripture, in understanding German critical theology and the ‘higher criticism’ which profoundly affected such ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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