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Anne Boleyn and the theatre of reformation

(Original article by Howard Brenton at The Guardian...)

"My father, who was a Methodist minister, once had a blazing row with a fundamentalist. This good soul – a butcher and fiery lay preacher always with a battered King James Bible tucked under his arm – argued that the miracles of Jesus really happened. Dad was what was then called a "modernist": he believed that many of the Bible stories, Old and New Testament, were not literally true but "symbolic"; in unguarded moments he would hint that even the resurrection of Jesus did not necessarily happen, what mattered was that the gospel story illustrated a great mystical truth.

The butcher would have none of this. Everything in the Bible was true: the Red Sea literally parted, Lazarus rose from the dead, the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus ascend into heaven. The Bible is the word of God, end of argument. A realisation began to dawn on my father, and he said something like "but it is only a translation, from Hebrew and Greek". The butcher exploded. Translation? No! He believed Jesus and the disciples actually spoke the words of the King James Bible. The language of biblical Palestine was Jacobean English..."


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