A preliminary overview
26 October 2015
Biblicalism is the school of criticism devoted to the study of a work of literature as viewed through its deliberate or incidental relationship to a monotheistic belief system.
The criticism neither advocates nor condemns any particular religion or denomination but seeks to explicate a given literary from a Bible-based perspective, evaluating examples, both explicit and implied, within the work and drawing the effectiveness of the author’s presentation of Biblical themes through the work.
Many public-school and university instructors in literature neglect to consider such a viewpoint even though its relevance-- indeed, often, its primacy-- to the work is obvious. A prime example may be the novel Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, herself the daughter of an Anglican priest. The novel is, by design and in effect, a parable about the power of conscious, Christian virtue in overcoming temptation and in redeeming others. All of Jane’s decisions throughout the book are grounded in her own native faith; the reasons for her sufferings are grounded in the failure of others to observe such precepts as each of them have been taught by his or her own faith. The first-person narrator consistently uses Biblical references both to illustrate and to defend the principal concepts.
It can be contended that, neglecting an examination of conspicuous and vital Biblical principles, especially by instructors either unprepared intellectually or restricted by a comprehensive school’s repressive, secular agenda, no comprehension of the work as a whole can be fully realised. Biblicalism is an appropriate approach in the study of ostensibly secular works such as those of romanticism, naturalism, postmodernism and the gothic, especially as a means to uncover counter-concepts typically left unexplored in most literture courses as taught at comprehensive secondary schools and at state universities.
Good examples of English-language literature to which the criticism may be applied include:
- Agnes Grey (Anne Brontë)
- Pamela; or: Virtue Rewarded (Samuel Richardson)
- Pamela; or; Virtue Reclaimed (Jonnie Comet)
- Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
- Oroonoko; or The Royal Slave (Aphra Behn)
- Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)
- Maggie; Girl of the Streets (Stephen Crane)
- ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ (Edgar Allan Poe)
- The Italian (Anne Radcliffe)
- Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
For further reading, see
The Absolutist, online here
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