Sunday, February 07, 2010

Blake's Bible

Northrup Frye referred to Blake as a Bible soaked Protestant. He was certainly that-- and much more. He read the Bible like no other scholar I've come across. He read it very freely.

In his last years Frye published two large volumes with subtitles: The Bible and Literature. He had started out as a young minister, but made the fatal mistake of studying Blake, after which he became a literary critic-- a real change for the better IMO.

Working on his thesis (called Fearful Symmetry) he had discovered that Blake read the Bible very freely; so he became, yes a Bible soaked Protestant but not (NO, NO!) a bibliolater. He read it more freely than any conforming establishmentarian would dare to do.

In his visions he talked to Isaiah and Ezekiel. Re the cherub God put before the Gate of Eden with a flaming sword Blake had this to say:

"For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite. and holy where as it now appears finite and corrupt. This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment."  (MHH, Plate 14)

Just poetry! you might say. Yes, but a fountain of life to non-authoritarians, free spirits who don't feel bound by the inerrancy-of-the-bible crowd. Blake sought Meaning in the Bible, not Law. Bible students divide along that line between free spirits and authoritarian types. Blake belonged to the first category, and so do I, and (hopefully) so do you. Let me know.

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