George Herbert's 82

Psalmic Social Disorientation in the Temple

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Nathan H. Nelson
Frameworks: Interdisciplinary Studies for Faith and Learning
  • Eugene, OR: 
    Wipf & Stock
    , May
     62 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


English-literature scholars have long recognized George Herbert’s frequent allusions to the psalms in his early-seventeenth-century poetry, especially in his collection called The Temple. Biblical scholars have long attempted to categorize the Hebrew psalms according to one overarching principle or another. Most discussions of Herbert’s psalmic borrowings are restricted to explication of individual poems, often with reference to the poet’s own psychology, physical health, family, occupations, and sociocultural context. The current study adds another dimension to the dialogue by examining Herbert’s varying degrees of psalmic reference within categories established by biblical scholars. The resulting data make a case for considering Herbert’s sub-collection called “The Church” to be his psalter, offering a particularly intriguing comparison between one of Herbert’s less-commonly-discussed poems and Psalm 82, one of the biblical collection’s most dramatic works.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Nathan H. Nelson is professor of English and chair of the Humanities Department at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. He is the author of The Dissidence of Suffering: Disaster Narratives and the Novelization of England's Maritime Epic (1989) and Spiritual Devotion: Intimacy with God (1996/2000).


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