Elizabethan psalm explication and protestant hermeneutics
Roberts, Michael Reid
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In recent years, several scholars of the Reformation have worked to complicate the notion of early Protestantism as a singular and liberating hermeneutic movement. In particular, critics like James Simpson and Ramie Targoff have targeted Tudor Bible scholarship as stifling and restrictive. Looking at Elizabethan psalm explications, I see neither a purely liberating nor a purely restrictive hermeneutic culture, but instead a combination of the literal and the figurative, of poetics and theology. Examining three different psalm explications by Martin Luther, John Hooper, and Thomas Wilcox, I find a wide variety of approaches to the Psalms, which suggests a relative interpretive freedom even among the Elizabethan Protestant elite. This analysis leads me to conclude that even early in the development of Protestant England there was no such thing as a unified Protestantism, but instead a patchwork of methods that trace back to humanism and Catholicism as well as emerging theories of literalism and poetics.