Thursday, August 17, 2006

Puritans, Scripture, and Mental Pictures

In the latest edition of the Scottish Journal of Theology, Dr Susan Hardman Moore, Lecturer of Theology and History at The University of Edinburgh, has written a splendid article entitled "For the mind's eye only: puritans, images and 'the golden mines of Scripture,'" SJT 59 (3): 281-296.

With a penchant for historical development and detail and breadth of primary source material, Hardman Moore traces the complicated shift from the visual to the verbal in seventeenth-century Puritanism. Her assessment of the role of printed aids to Bible study (such as concordances) in codifying Puritan emphasis upon the Word as an 'image-maker on the mind' is a fascinating portrait of Protestant thought in an emergent print culture.

Here is a summary taken from the abstract of the article:

To understand the drive for verbal imaging in puritansim with more precision, this paper considers the experience of readers in a culture where print was new; aspects of Reformed theology that paved the way, in particular the stress on the unity of scripture that promoted interest in typology; the boost that new printed aids to Bible study - specifically, concordances - gave to drawing 'mental pictures' from scripture; and the relation of all this to making the Bible both easy to handle and memorable, which was a key element in the strategy to drive the Protestant message into the hearts and minds of the people.

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