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By Michelle Ephraim

The 1st book-length exam of Jewish girls in Renaissance drama, this learn explores fictional representations of the feminine Jew in educational, deepest and public level performances in the course of Queen Elizabeth I's reign; it hyperlinks lesser-known dramatic variations of the biblical Rebecca, Deborah, and Esther with the Jewish daughters made well-known by means of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare at the well known degree. Drawing upon unique learn on early smooth sermons and biblical commentaries, Michelle Ephraim right here indicates the cultural value of biblical performs that experience got scant severe cognizance and provides a brand new context with which to appreciate Shakespeare's and Marlowe's fascination with the Jewish daughter. Protestant playwrights usually figured Elizabeth via Jewish ladies from the Hebrew scripture so as to valid her spiritual authenticity. Ephraim argues that during the determine of the Jewess, playwrights not just stake a declare to the previous testomony yet name recognition to the method of studying and analyzing the Jewish bible; their typological interpretations problem and applicable Catholic and Jewish exegeses. The performs express the Reformists' hope for propriety over the Hebrew scripture as a "prisca veritas," the natural observe of God in preference to that of corrupt Church authority. but those literary representations of the Jewess, which draw from a number of and conflicting exegetical traditions, additionally display the elusive caliber of the Hebrew textual content. This booklet establishes the connection among Elizabeth and dramatic representations of the Jewish lady: to "play" the Jewess is to interact in an interpretive "play" that either celebrates and interrogates the spiritual ideology of Elizabeth's rising Protestant state. Ephraim methods the connection among scripture and drama from a historicist viewpoint, complicating our figuring out of the explicit intersections among the Jewess in Elizabethan drama, biblical commentaries, political discourse, and pop culture. This learn expands the growing to be box of Jewish reports within the Renaissance and contributes additionally to serious paintings on Elizabeth herself, whose impression on literary texts many students have verified.

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Extra info for Reading the Jewish Woman on the Elizabethan Stage (Women and Gender in the Early Modern World)

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17 The Christian Esther Early modern Protestant exegetes allegorically figured Esther’s salvation of the Jews and defeat of Haman as the true Church’s deliverance from Catholic oppression. 18 On the one hand, Zlotowitz [Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1981], p. 41). In this context, the exegetes put forth a psychoanalytic reading of Ahasuerus’s condemnation of Vashti as a projection of his real anxiety about the Jews. Finally, in a more direct attempt to distinguish between Ahasuerus’s assertive wives, the Midrashic writers shift the charge of anti-Semitism to Vashti, whom they accuse of abusing the Israelite women (Megillah, pp.

50 Once again, the text, like a “harlotte,” might be too accessible or, alternatively, too “deep and dangerous” and thus denying the reader spiritual meaning. During the sixteenth century, the Protestants’ investment in the Hebrew scripture renewed and fuelled long-standing anxieties about the process of ascertaining Christian truths within the Old Testament. 51 The Old Testament narratives provided a focal point where Christian ideology could be shaped and defined, and yet, in their potential to produce multiple, changing significations, also hinted at the instability of scripture—of language— as the one, true locus of Christian authority.

Torrey, “The Older Book of Esther,” Harvard Theological Review 37 (1944): 1-40 and Elias J. Bickerman, “Notes on the Greek Book of Esther,” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 20 (1950): 101-33. 14 Rabbinic and Midrashic commentaries express discomfort with her ability to deceive Ahasuerus and, later, her martial bravado: Esther ensures Haman’s death through the King’s decree that the Jews may legally slaughter their enemies but then adds her own command to publicly hang his sons’ dead bodies.

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