Shakespeare, Theology, and the Unstaged God: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Shakespeare, Theology, and the Unstaged God

1st Edition

By Anthony D. Baker


240 pages

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Hardback: 9780367189457
pub: 2019-08-27
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While many scholars in Shakespeare and Religious Studies assume a secularist viewpoint in their interpretation of Shakespeare’s works, there are others that allow for a theologically coherent reading. Located within the turn to religion in Shakespeare studies, this book goes beyond the claim that Shakespeare simply made artistic use of religious material in his drama. It argues that his plays inhabit a complex and rich theological atmosphere, individually, by genre and as a body of work.

The book begins by acknowledging that a plot-controlling God figure, or even a consistent theological dogma, is largely absent in the plays of Shakespeare. However, it argues that this absence is not necessarily a sign of secularization, but functions in a theologically generative manner. It goes on to suggest that the plays reveal a consistent, if variant, attention to the theological possibility of a divine "presence" mediated through human wit, both in gracious and malicious forms. Without any prejudice for divine intervention, the plots actually gesture on many turns toward a hidden supernatural "actor", or God.

Making bold claims about the artistic and theological of Shakespeare’s work, this book will be of interest to scholars of Theology and the Arts, Shakespeare and Literature more generally.

Table of Contents


Introduction: On God’s Hidden Presence

Part One: Theology and History

1 Divine Courtesy

2 The Unexceptional King

Part Two: Theology and Tragedy

3 The Hidden Double

4 Human Gods

Part Three: Theology and Comedy

5 Unauthorized Grace

6 Comic Repentance

Conclusion: Shakespeare’s Theatrical Good Friday

About the Author

Anthony Baker is Clinton S. Quin Professor of Systematic Theology at the Seminary of the Southwest, USA. He is the author of Diagonal Advance: Perfection in Christian Theology (2011), as well as various articles in Modern Theology, Political Theology, The Journal of Anglican Studies, Anglican Theological Review, Heythrop Journal and other journals and collections.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Theology, Imagination and the Arts

What have imagination and the arts to do with theology? For much of the modern era, the answer has been 'not much'. It is precisely this deficit that this series seeks to redress. For, whatever role they have or have not been granted in the theological disciplines, imagination and the arts are undeniably bound up with how we as human beings think, learn and communicate, engage with and respond to our physical and social environments and, in particular, our awareness and experience of that which transcends our own creatureliness. The arts are playing an increasingly significant role in the way people come to terms with the world; at the same time, artists of many disciplines are showing a willingness to engage with religious or theological themes. A spate of publications and courses in many educational institutions has already established this field as one of fast-growing concern. This series taps into a burgeoning intellectual concern on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. The peculiar inter-disciplinarity of theology, and the growing interest in imagination and the arts in many different fields of human concern, afford the opportunity for a series that has its roots sunk in varied and diverse intellectual soils, while focused around a coherent theological question: How are imagination and the arts involved in the shaping and reshaping of our humanity as part of the creative and redemptive purposes of God, and what roles do they perform in the theological enterprise? Many projects within the series have particular links to the work of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts in the University of St Andrews, and to the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts at Duke University.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Christianity / Literature & the Arts
RELIGION / Christian Theology / General
RELIGION / Theology