The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0973 Monday, 23 May 2005
[Editor's Note: I closed this and another thread on Friday. I will
accept no more posting to them.]
 From: Steve Roth <
Date: Sunday, 22 May 2005 09:27:21 -0700
Subj: Re: SHK 16.0947 Failed Application
 From: David Basch <
Date: Friday, 20 May 2005 16:57:02 -0400
Subj: SHK 16.0958 Failed Application
From: Steve Roth <
Date: Sunday, 22 May 2005 09:27:21 -0700
Subject: 16.0947 Failed Application
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0947 Failed Application
>in Shakespeare's day, it's unlikely any Christian had the
>vaguest idea that the KJV was not "The" Bible.
Things haven't changed so much. A friend who occasionally attends
Washington State legislature committee meetings in Olympia reported to
me the follow statement by a legislator during a discussion of bilingual
"Well if the English language is good enough for the Lord Jesus Christ,
it's good enough for me."
From: David Basch <
Date: Friday, 20 May 2005 16:57:02 -0400
Subject: Failed Application
Comment: SHK 16.0958 Failed Application
Alan Horn would be correct in his suggestion that matters such as
Shakespeare's origin be discontinued on this list if the only point of
pursuing these facts is ethnic thrill or religious glorification. But
that is not the point of such exercises when it comes to the poet.
The real point is to get at the meaning and message of some of his most
baffling works. I have argued that a new window is opened by
understanding his origin and the culture that fed his work. That Hamlet
is based on Ecclesiastes is a thesis that could add new clarity to
understanding this play. That The Merchant of Venice is a form of
Purimshpiel, a play that celebrated the holiday of Purim and redressed
moral grievances perpetrated by the host society, is key to
understanding the universal message of brotherhood that this play
espouses. That King Lear is the Poet's version of Job explains why the
poet changed the ending of the historic story of Lear. Numberless other
such insights are to be gleaned along this road, which I would think
would be welcomed by any intrepid Shakespearean enthusiast and scholar.
That is why I think it is useful to continue such explorations and to
attempt to answer misconceptions raised.
Bill Arnold is correct when he would suggest that allusions to both the
Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are not very telltale in
Shakespeare's work within a society that reveres those works. But what
are telltale are allusions that refer to particularistic Judaic
literatures like the Talmud and traditional Judaic concepts. Of the
latter allusions, there is a surprising abundance in Shakespeare's work
and these need to be accounted for and not dismissed. How much of this
is there? One need only read my three books to learn about the extent of
this and their significance.
I have presented to this list instances of these among the many I have
uncovered. I have demonstrated evidence of the poet's obvious
proficiency in the Hebrew language, attested to by names with Hebrew
meanings and other devices he uses in his plays as well as his use of
Hebrew in his sonnets. In itself, the Sonnets is a treasure trove of
such allusions. Not only does he use devices that are based on the
Hebrew language in his 154 sonnets, but this collection of poems is
itself a coherent whole that presents an allegory of a Judaic conception
of a tripartite soul (from the Zohar). I devoted a whole book on this
and, since, with new findings, could add another half a book to it. This
is in addition to the two other books I wrote that oddly seem to
disinterest those who declare that I don't present enough evidence. I
would think that if my critics wanted to give me a fair hearing they
would take into account all of my findings as presented in my books or
at least defer their conclusions until the facts in the case were
Isn't it also odd that nobody comments on the never before discovered
fact that the poet put his full name in Sonnet 148 using the device of
vertical alignments or that his name as w-i-l-l occurs twice in this
sonnet as the product of an equal letter space device, a low order
probability occurring conveniently where it could be expected? This
proves that the poet indulged in such devices and stamps his sonnets as
containing hidden communications not previously accounted.
I also indicated how Shakespeare's coat of arms alludes to the three
Biblical patriarchs (though I did not spell out how it was done with
Jacob). It features a bird that is a "saker," a species of falcon, with
a name that resembles the name found in a British court record of a
legacy from Richard Shakespeare to his son, John, that refers to him by
the name, [Johannem] Shakere, which is also a Hebrew word that is picked
up in Biblical verses that are dramatically enacted in his plays. I had
counted four such enactments and now, finding an additional one, count
five of such instances. This pattern is so complex and intricate as to
defy the possibility that it is accidental, and is but one of many such
Judaic patterns that show up.
These are elements that add up to the profile of a Jewish person. It is
from this base that I speculate on the shreds of evidence of his life in
Stratford and many other things, like his existence within a small
Jewish society. In other words, it is from this base that I at times
"work backwards," as Larry Weiss quotes me as saying.
This procedure, I submit, is hardly being unscientific. While Larry
alleges that Darwin first did his cataloguing and then constructed his
theory, I wager that, like most theoreticians, Darwin already had a
hunch of what he would find from what he had already found. There is
nothing shameful or unscientific about this mode of investigation.
Often a number of theories would be speculated on in this fashion and
the most likely adopted and refined.
In the case of examining Shakespeare's work, I too began with some
telltale indications that supported speculations. Those speculations
hardened into warranted conclusions as the number of them grew and added
up to the profile I mentioned. I used some of the meager anecdotes of
his life that have come down to us to suggest what are possibilities,
but not proofs. I am not saying that that is what these are, only that
they are suggestive.
Larry is also very wrong when he alleges that I dismiss "proof" in order
to jump on my speculations. In fact, what I show is that what has been
called "proof" of origin is not necessarily "proof." This is so since a
Jew living in England at the time could not leave anything but a
Christian record if he wished to remain in the country. Otherwise he
would have his property confiscated, his throat cut, or both. As history
proceeded, once it became evident to British authorities that
Shakespeare was a national phenomenon, it stands to reason that contrary
and "unacceptable" evidence of the poet's origins would have been
expunged. The historic account of James Wilmot's destruction of some of
this history is suggestive of how other findings would have been treated.
Concerning falsifications of records of origin and practicing sacrements
of other religions forbidden by Judaism that Larry Weiss mentions, that,
unfortunately, has been a reality of Jewish life in a precarious world.
If anyone checks on many of the Jews of Spain who, under the aegis of
the Inquisition, outwardly practiced a Christian faith but remained Jews
in secret, they will be able to fathom how this could have been done in
England after the time Jews were officially banished.
Concerning Anne's status when she was married to the young poet,
traditional Judaism recognizes open cohabitation as one of forms of
legal marriage. Anne and William could have been Jewishly married and
would only have needed the legal procedure of the country of residence
for confirmation, which would come later when opportune.
Historian Cecil Roth tells that Jews had been in England from the time
of William the Conqueror, who had brought a community of Jews with him
as record keepers and accountants. This community had a successful run
in England until English authorities decided to take over their property
and wealth and drive them from country towards the end of the 13th century.
Concerning portraits, most are bogus. The only two I credit are the
Grafton portrait, which shows a sensitive looking young man with age and
dates in the painting that are the same as the poet's, and the portrait
alleged to be of the poet by Professor Leslie Hotson of Yale. The
latter, I have shown, contains the poet's initials, never before
spotted, and much more. Neither of these portraits show earrings.
I did mention "artifacts" left behind that Larry chides me for
withholding from the list. These are mentioned in my books and include
one of the portraits noted. The problem is that the information
concerning these are hard to present succinctly and easy to attack in
the absence of a more or less full context and explanation.
Concerning the poet's place of burial, about ten years ago, a site was
excavated alongside the poet's burial place. When the excavators looked
into what was supposed to be the poet's burial place, it was found to be
vacant. Either the remains had turned to dust, had not been there, or
had been removed. Somebody else will have to tell me what actually
happened here since I wouldn't know. But in any case, it would not be
the only instance where a Jew had to be buried in a non Jewish grave
because of an inhospitable situation.
The point of it all is that there is a case to be made for a Shakespeare
of Jewish origin, from which he received the inspiration of a Judaic
culture that has so shown up as his distinctive message to this world.
Lines whose meaning are lost to history and the significance of plays
not understood become newly reclaimed and clarified. We learn what was
of value and significance to this great man and how we can learn from it
to better our lives and our world, a subject that is worthy of endless
number of future books by minds grappling with such issues. But should
it be that, instead of a fixed mark, love will alter when it alteration
find? Only the readers can answer that question.
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
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