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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: May ::
Protestant Exorcism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0995  Monday, 3 May 2004

[1]     From:   John D. Cox <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Apr 2004 09:38:55 -0400
        Subj:   Exorcism

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Apr 2004 19:11:13 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0983 Protestant Exorcism

[3]     From:   Lea Luecking Frost <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Apr 2004 17:07:52 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0983 Protestant Exorcism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John D. Cox <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Apr 2004 09:38:55 -0400
Subject:        Exorcism

John Velz's question about exorcism in the English church can best be
answered by looking at F. W. Brownlow's *Shakespeare, Harsnett, and the
Devils of Denham* (U of Delaware P, 1993).  As Brownlow makes clear, the
English Church opposed both Catholic "exorcism" (a prescribed ritual)
and Puritan "dispossession" (prayer alone).  One cannot, therefore,
speak of "Protestant exorcism," because the English church opposed all
cleansing of devils, and Puritans eschewed exorcism per se.  I've
addressed the issue in regard to stage plays in *The Devil and the
Sacred in English Drama, 1350-1642* (Cambridge, 2000).

John Cox
Hope College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Apr 2004 19:11:13 +0100
Subject: 15.0983 Protestant Exorcism
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0983 Protestant Exorcism

J.W.Velz's student asks:

 >As far as you know, would an Anglican bishop or priest of the
 >Elizabethan period believe in
 >demon-possession and exorcisms, or was that already considered catholic
 >silliness?

I think your student might have things upside down.  Both the Catholic
and Anglican churches still perform exorcisms, but these are extremely
rare in both churches.  Pentacostal Protestant churches on the other
hand perform exorcisms much more frequently, as they tend to blame
"normal" mental illness on demon possession.

As for belief in demon possession in Shakespeare's day, the head of the
Anglican church, James I, not only believed in demon-possession and
witchcraft, he wrote the authorative book on the subject.

"The more women, the more witches".  (James I)

Peter Bridgman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lea Luecking Frost <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Apr 2004 17:07:52 -0600
Subject: 15.0983 Protestant Exorcism
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0983 Protestant Exorcism

If you haven't already recommended it, you might point your student in
the direction of Harsnett's Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures,
which doesn't address your question directly but does take on the notion
of exorcism from a Protestant perspective. F.W. Brownlow's "Shakespeare,
Harsnett, and the Devils of Denham" also addresses the issue (and
includes Harsnett's text).

Regards,
Lea

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