The Legend of Noah: Renaissance Rationalism in Art, Science, and Letters

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University of Illinois Press, 1949 - History - 221 pages
This book is devoted to tracing the effect of the literal and historical interpretation of the story of Noah on the literary and artistic treatments of the legend in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It begins with a sketch of the controversy about the value of reason in religion, passes to the quarrel about the relative values of the Hebrew, Greek and Vulgate texts of the Bible, and then centres on the attempts to prove the actuality of a universal Flood. There are chapters on the literal explanations of how the Flood could have occurred and how the Ark could have been built to accommodate all necessary creatures. The author also considers the various scientific explanations of these matters and of fossils, the diversity of animals, and the origin of diverse peoples, such as the American Indians. Finally, he traces the effects of these arguments on literature and art, and shows that as the attempts to prove the story did just the opposite, the imaginations of poets and artists were liberated to do with the tale what pleased or amused.

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The Background
Science and Letters
Reason and the Text of the Bible

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