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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Psalm 46
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0042  Monday, 11 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Jimmy Jung <
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        Date:   Sunday, 10 Jan 1999 11:33:54 -0500
        Subj:   Bible

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Sunday, 10 Jan 1999 19:57:56 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0029 Re: Psalm 46


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jimmy Jung <
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Date:           Sunday, 10 Jan 1999 11:33:54 -0500
Subject:        Bible

A follow-up to my previous message about Psalm 46, where I asked for
other arguments about Shakespeare's hand in the KJV.  I've been an
inconstant lurker lately, busy in my non-literary life and have been
skipping and stockpiling messages.  I went back and search for some
older discussion on Psalm 46 and the KJV.  I found particularly useful
messages posted by David Evettt and Kathman that explain why
Shakespeare's involvement was unlikely.

Nevertheless, it is an attractive idea that I remain intrigued by, and
there are a few unnamed participants.  (Why were they unnamed anyway?)

jimmy

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Sunday, 10 Jan 1999 19:57:56 -0000
Subject: 10.0029 Re: Psalm 46
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0029 Re: Psalm 46

>If you consider it carefully-the words "shake" and "spear," and their
>position (46 words down and 46 words up in the 46th psalm) -- is it at
>all possible that such a thing could occur just by chance?

The only way to test this one is to see whether it is possible to
produce similar results by pure chance.

As a brief experiment I took a look at the names of previous posters on
this thread, and found the name "Peter Groves" (sorry for the liberty,
Peter) which can usefully be divided into two words which are likely to
turn up randomly in other texts (in the same way that "shake" and
"spear" do).

I then took a look at my Shakespeare Concordance to see whether Peter's
name turns up in any numerically significant positions as far as Act,
Scene and Line numbers are concerned in Shakespeare's plays.

Sure enough, in "Midsummer Night's Dream", the name "Peter" appears in
1.2.8 and the word "Grove" appears in 2.1.28.  Both references come from
the same play and end with exactly the same sequence of numbers - 128.

In the 3 volume edition of Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor's Oxford
edition of the plays, line 2.1.28 of "Midsummer Night's Dream" appears
in "Volume 2 : The Comedies" on page 581.  The first numbered page in
this Volume is page 453.  Unsurprisingly 581-453 = 128.  More evidence
for the "128 code".

There is another suitable reference in "Romeo and Juliet", where the
word "Grove" appears at 1.1.128 (in the Globe edition, used by
Bartlett), and later "Peter", the Capulet's servant, speaks line 4.5.128
("When griping grief the heart doth wound").

Does any of this mean anything?  Well, of course it doesn't.  It is just
a nice series of coincidences.  Shakespeare couldn't have known who
Peter Groves was, and had no idea of how subsequent editors would number
lines and pages.

On the other hand, I only looked for one randomly chosen name in one
randomly chosen text using a single "Act / Scene / Line code" that I had
invented seconds beforehand and had no reason to believe would work.
The fact that something turned up shows quite how common these
coincidences are.

>May we not conclude that it's fairly definite that someone (Will himself
>or someone wishing to give him what they may have thought would be his
>Warholian 15 minutes of fame) planted his name there?

I don't think so.  The "Psalm 46" coincidence may be more impressive
than my hastily constructed example above (I feel particularly guilty of
depriving Peter of his final "s"), but there are so many ways of
constructing "coded messages" by this sort of method that just about any
name you pick is bound to turn up somewhere and in some form as long as
it can be broken into two reasonably common words.

Unless you are willing to accept that such coincidences are always
"fairly definite" proof that a code exists, then you would not really be
justified in assuming - without any supporting evidence - that this must
be the case with "Psalm 46".

Thomas.
 

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