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Christian Identity, Jews, and Israel in 17th-Century England

Oxford University Press, 2010

Christian Identity, Jews, and Israel in 17th-Century England is a cultural history of seventeenth-century England. It assesses the complexity and fluidity of Christian identity from the reign of Elizabeth I and the early Stuart kings through the English Revolution, and into the Restoration, when the English Church and monarchy were restored. Throughout this tumultuous period, which included debate about readmission of the Jews, England was preoccupied with Jews and Israel. As the Reformation sharpened national identity and prompted reconsideration of the relation of Christianity to Judaism, English people showed intense interest in Jewish history and Judaism and appropriated biblical Israel's history, looking to the narratives in the Hebrew Bible, even as reformed Christianity was thought to be purged of Jewish elements. There was an unstable, shifting mix of identification and opposition, affinity and distance, in English attitudes towards Jews - a mix that held positive possibilities for Jewish/Christian relations as well as negative. Grounded in archival research, this book analyzes writings ranging from those of Foxe and Hooker to Milton and Dryden, from sermons to lyrics, from church polemic to proposals for legal and economic reform. Literary texts discussed include Herrick's Hesperides, Vaughan's Silex Scintillans, Bunyan's Grace Abounding , Milton's major prose and poems, and Dryden's Annus Mirabilis and Absalom and Achitophel . Attention is also paid to publications associated with James I, Charles I, and Cromwell, and writings by and about such figures as William Prynne, Gerrard Winstanley, Margaret Fell, George Fox, Menasseh Ben Israel, and self-proclaimed prophets such as John Rogers, Abiezzer Coppe, and Anna Trapnel.