|American Minute with Bill Federer
William Shakespeare and the Bible
U.S. District Court decisionCrockett v. Sorenson (W.D. Va. 1983) stated:
“The First Amendment was never intended to insulate our public institutions from any mention of God, the Bible or religion…
Some of the better known works which rely heavily on allusions from the Bible include…the plays of Shakespeare, especially Measure for Measure;…
Secular education imposes immediate demands that the student have a good knowledge of the Bible… A basic background in the Bible is essential to fully appreciate and understand both Western culture and current events.”
William Shakespeare was born APRIL 23, 1564.
His 38 plays impacted world literature.
He married Ann Hathaway, had three children, moved to London, and became shareholding director of Globe Theater.
He wrote such classics as Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 1591, Shakespeare introduced his play, King Henry the Sixth, in which he wrote in Part II, act II, scene i, line 34:
“Blessed are the peacemakers on earth.”
In King Henry the Sixth, Part II, act II, scene i, line 66, he wrote:
“Now, God be praised, that to the believing souls,
In scene iii, line 55, he exclaimed:
“God defend the right!”
In Part III, act V, scene v, line 7, he penned:
“So part we sadly in this troublous world,
William Shakespeare wrote inKing Richard the Third, 1592-93, act I, scene iv:
“O, I have passed a miserable night,
William Shakespeare wrote inKing Richard the Third, act I, scene 4:
“Before I be convict by course of law,
In King Richard the Second, 1595-96, act IV, scene i, line 97, Shakespeare wrote:
“Many a time hath banished Norfolk fought
In King Richard the Second, 1595-96, act IV, scene i, line 170, Shakespeare wrote:
“So Judas did to Christ: but He, in twelve,
In King Richard the Second, 1595-96, act IV, scene i, line 239, Shakespeare wrote:
“Some of you with Pilate wash your hands,
In the play, The Merchant of Venice, act I, scene ii, line 59, Shakespeare penned:
“God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.”
In The Merchant of Venice, act I, scene iii, line 99, Shakespeare wrote:
In The Merchant of Venice, act IV, scene i, line 184, Shakespeare wrote:
“The quality of mercy is not strained,
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
But mercy is above this sceptered sway,
Therefore… Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
In his play, King Henry the Fourth, Part I, act i, scene 1, line 18, published in 1598, Shakespeare wrote:
In King Henry the Fifth, 1598-1600, act III, scene vi, line 181, William Shakespeare wrote:
“We are in God’s hand.”
In King Henry the Fifth, 1598-1600, act IV, scene i, line 309, Shakespeare wrote:
“O God of battles! steel my soldiers’ hearts;
In Hamlet, 1600-01, act I, scene I, Shakespeare wrote:
“Some say – that ever ‘gainst that season comes
In Hamlet, 1600-01, act III, scene i, line 150, Shakespeare wrote:
“I have heard of your paintings too, well enough;
In Hamlet, 1600-01, act III, iv, line 149, Shakespeare wrote:
“Confess yourself to heaven;
In Hamlet, 1600-01, act V, scene i, line 84, Shakespeare wrote:
“A politician…one that would circumvent God.”
William Shakespeare wrote inOthello, 1604-05, act I, scene i, line 108:
“You are one of those that will not serve God if the devil bid you.”
In Othello, 1604-05, act II, scene iii, line 106, Shakespeare wrote:
“Well, God’s above all;
In Othello, 1604-05, act II, scene iii, line 293, Shakespeare wrote:
William Shakespeare wrote in King Henry the Eighth, 1613, act III, scene ii, line 456:
“Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my king, he would not in mine age Have left me naked to mine enemies.”
William Shakespeare remarked:
“God’s goodness hath been great to thee;
Nine years after the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, Willam Shakespeare died on APRIL 23, 1616.
This was just days apart from the death of famous Spanish playwright and novelist, Miguel de Cervantes.
Only 52 years old at his death, William Shakespeare wrote in his Will:
“In the name of God, Amen! I, William Shakespeare, of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warr., gent., in perfect health and memory, God be praised, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say,
First, I commend my soul into the hands of God, my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting, and my body to the earth whereof it is made.”
Carved on his tomb in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, England, is:
“Good Friend For Jesus Sake Forbeare,
Woodrow Wilson stated at the Tercentenary Celebration of the Translation of the Bible into the English Language, May 7, 1911:
“How like to the Scripture is all great literature!
What is it that entrances us when we read or witness a play ofShakespeare?
It is the consciousness that this man, this all-observing mind, saw men of every cast and kind as they were in their habits, as they lived.
And as passage succeeds passage we seem to see the characters of ourselves and our friends portrayed by this ancient writer, and a play ofShakespeare is just as modern to-day as upon the day it was penned and first enacted.
And the Bible is without age or date or time.
It is a picture of the human heart displayed for all ages and for all sorts and conditions of men.”
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