Event Title

Joseph and the KJV Bible in Wuthering Heights

Location

Room B

Start Date

1-10-2011 4:15 PM

End Date

1-10-2011 5:30 PM

Abstract

Since its first printing in 1611, the Authorized Version took its place as the Bible for the Church of England, a rejection of both the Catholic Rheims translation and the Protestant Geneva translation. The Catholic Church and its followers rejected the King James Version of the Bible for many reasons, the most prominent being that it allowed the commoners to read and interpret the scriptures as individuals, without the aid or guidance of a priest or religious leader. Even members of the “High Church” in England frowned upon individualist interpretation of scripture. Yet King James pushed on with the translation, in an effort to reconcile the Church of England with the growing Dissenter movements.

A brief analysis of Joseph, servant to the Earnshaw family and Heathcliff in Bronte's Wuthering Heights, emphasizes this cultural concern with scriptural interpretation that was at the heart of the King James translation. Throughout the novel, Joseph claims to know the scriptures, frequently quoting and misquoting verses to the family in order to convey his opinion on the impending damnation, yet he never seems to attend chapel in Gimmerton. Instead, his interpretation springs from his mind and readings alone.

Catherine and Heathcliff, too, play into the cultural feelings of the time. In her article “‘Some God of Wild Enthusiast's Dreams’: Emily Brontë’s Religious Enthusiasm,” Emma Mason concludes that the couple’s love is based not on romantic feelings, but on the popular religious enthusiasm of the age. While this is true, it is worth noting that Catherine and Heathcliff’s religion is based exclusively on their hearing of interpretation. When given the Bible to read, both throw the book aside, choosing to run in the moors instead of interpret scriptures. However, both come to the end of life with a deep fear of hell, speaking fervently of the God and religion in which they were (half-heartedly) raised.

The separation and distinction between Joseph and the lovers points to the separation suffered by the entire country, a separation that the King James Version had sought to extinguish. Nevertheless, over two hundred and thirty years after the first publication, novels such as Wuthering Heights express the class and religious separation between those who sought to interpret scripture individually and those whose religion was based on the interpretations given from a pulpit.

Comments

Melissa West earned her M.A. in English at Liberty University in 2009 and currently teaches English at ECPI-Medical Careers Institute, Hampton, VA.

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Oct 1st, 4:15 PM Oct 1st, 5:30 PM

Joseph and the KJV Bible in Wuthering Heights

Room B

Since its first printing in 1611, the Authorized Version took its place as the Bible for the Church of England, a rejection of both the Catholic Rheims translation and the Protestant Geneva translation. The Catholic Church and its followers rejected the King James Version of the Bible for many reasons, the most prominent being that it allowed the commoners to read and interpret the scriptures as individuals, without the aid or guidance of a priest or religious leader. Even members of the “High Church” in England frowned upon individualist interpretation of scripture. Yet King James pushed on with the translation, in an effort to reconcile the Church of England with the growing Dissenter movements.

A brief analysis of Joseph, servant to the Earnshaw family and Heathcliff in Bronte's Wuthering Heights, emphasizes this cultural concern with scriptural interpretation that was at the heart of the King James translation. Throughout the novel, Joseph claims to know the scriptures, frequently quoting and misquoting verses to the family in order to convey his opinion on the impending damnation, yet he never seems to attend chapel in Gimmerton. Instead, his interpretation springs from his mind and readings alone.

Catherine and Heathcliff, too, play into the cultural feelings of the time. In her article “‘Some God of Wild Enthusiast's Dreams’: Emily Brontë’s Religious Enthusiasm,” Emma Mason concludes that the couple’s love is based not on romantic feelings, but on the popular religious enthusiasm of the age. While this is true, it is worth noting that Catherine and Heathcliff’s religion is based exclusively on their hearing of interpretation. When given the Bible to read, both throw the book aside, choosing to run in the moors instead of interpret scriptures. However, both come to the end of life with a deep fear of hell, speaking fervently of the God and religion in which they were (half-heartedly) raised.

The separation and distinction between Joseph and the lovers points to the separation suffered by the entire country, a separation that the King James Version had sought to extinguish. Nevertheless, over two hundred and thirty years after the first publication, novels such as Wuthering Heights express the class and religious separation between those who sought to interpret scripture individually and those whose religion was based on the interpretations given from a pulpit.