Shakespeare and Biblical Culture: A Study of Biblical Allusion in Shakespeare’s Plays


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library during academic year 2008-2009


This project is the first major study of Shakespeare’s use of biblical allusions and references to make meaning in his plays. One of Shakespeare’s most frequent sources, the Renaissance Bible, was also an interpreted Bible. Thus, this study explores glosses, sermons, commentaries, literature, and art to determine the range of interpretations available to Shakespeare’s audience. The experience of hearing the Bible in church conditioned Shakespeare’s audience to recognize and interpret biblical allusions in the theater. Therefore, the study also explores the relationship between the Church and the Theater as cultural institutions. This project advances our understanding of both Shakespeare and the culture of early modern England.