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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Hamlet's Ghost
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1227  Wednesday, 9 June 2004

[1]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 00:38:52 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 00:38:52 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost

[3]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 00:38:52 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jun 2004 23:15:47 +0100
Subject: 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost

Alan Jones asks...

 >Could you cite the relevant records?  Even if we disregard the Catholic
 >resurgence under Mary I (1553-58), I have not seen direct evidence that
 >prayers for the dead were no longer permitted in the England of Edward
 >VI or Elizabeth.

According to Prof Duffy, the change came in the 1552 Edwardine prayer
book......

"Funerals in late medieval England, as we have seen, were intensely
concerned with the notion of community, a community in which living and
dead were not separated, in which the bonds of affection, duty, and
blood continued to bind.  The means of this transaction between the
living and the dead was charity, maintained and expressed in prayer.
The dead, whose names were recited week by week in the bede-roll at the
parish Mass, remained part of the communities they had once lived in .....

... the funeral service of 1549 did contain prayers for the dead, and
emphasized their community with the living, "they with us and we with
them".  At the moment of the committal of the body to the earth the
priest turned to the corpse, scattered earth on it and, in Cranmer's
translation, said "I commend thy soule to God the father almighty, and
thy body to the grounde, earth to earth, asshes to asshes, dust to
dust".  The dead could still be spoken to directly, even in 1549,
because in some sense they still belonged within the human community.
But in the world of the 1552 book the dead were no longer with us.  They
could neither be spoken to nor even about, in any way that affected
their well-being.  The dead had gone beyond the reach of human content,
even of human prayer.  There was nothing which could even be mistaken
for a prayer for the dead in the 1552 funeral rite.  The service was no
longer a rite of intercession on behalf of the dead, but an exhortation
to faith on the part of the living.  Indeed, it is not too much to say
that the oddest feature of the 1552 burial rite is the disappearance of
the corpse from it.  So, at the moment of commital in 1552, the minister
turns not towards the corpse, but away from it, to the living
congregation around the grave.  "Forasmuche as it hathe pleased
almightie God of his great mercy to take unto himselfe the soule of our
dere brother here departed: we therefore commit his body to the ground,
earth to earth, asshes to asshes, dust to dust."  Here the dead person
is spoken not to, but about, as one no longer here, but precisely as
departed:  the boundaries of human community have been redrawn".

(from 'The Stripping of the Altars', p 475)

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 00:22:02 +0100
Subject: 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost

Alan Jones writes...

 >In particular, the restriction of
 >Article XXII to the "Romish doctrine" implies that there may be a
 >non-Romish doctrine of Purgatory, a doctrine derived from Scripture ...

As all the Orthodox churches deny the existence of Purgatory, there is
unlikely to be a "non-Romish" doctrine.  As for the "Romish" doctrine,
this was first officially declared at the Council of Florence in 1031,
although church fathers had argued the existence of "a place or
condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in
God's grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully
paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions" (online Catholic
Encyclopedia).

The following scriptural passages are cited for both prayers for the
dead and for purgatory (all KJV) ...

2 Maccabees 12:43-46 .... "And when he had made a gathering throughout
the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to
Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly,
in that he was mindful of the resurrection:  For if he had not hoped
that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been
superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.  And also in that he
perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly,
it was an holy and good thought.  Whereupon he made a reconciliation for
the dead, that they might be delivered from sin".

Matthew 12:32...  "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man,
it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost,
it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the
world to come".  St Augustine argued that Christ would not have said
this unless there were other sinners who ARE forgiven in the world to come.

1 Cor 3:11-15...  "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day
shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire
shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide
which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's
work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be
saved; yet so as by fire".

Peter Bridgman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 00:38:52 +0100
Subject: 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1216 Hamlet's Ghost

 >It was the great Dover Wilson who observed, in his wonderful, "What
 >Happens in Hamlet," that "in fact he [the Ghost of Hamlet's father] is
 >the only Catholic in the play."

With all due respect to the great Dover Wilson, how would he know?
Surely Shakespeareans like Peter Milward who have also studied Catholic
theology are in a better position to judge what is or isn't Catholic in
the plays.

Peter Bridgman

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