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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: July ::
Shylock as Suffering Servant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1230  Wednesday, 20 July 2005

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 08:04:09 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1222 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[2]     From:   Joseph Egert <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 19:25:52 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Shuffering Servant

[3]     From:   Joseph Egert <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 19:51:55 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 18:18:40 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1222 Shylock as Suffering Servant

[5]     From:   David Basch <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 17:31:29 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   SHK 16.1222 Tuesday, 19 July 2005


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 08:04:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1222 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1222 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Florence Amit writes, "Bill Arnold probably knows by now that I do not
agree with the simplistic depiction of Shylock that he puts.  From my
point of view the character cannot be defended with the attitudes he is
presumed to possess. I defend another Shylock."

Au contraire.  I neither defend nor offend Shylock.  I am merely stating
the obvious.  Inasmuch as Will S was a Christian, writing in a highly
Christian era, in the throes between Protestant and Catholic views, it
seems obvious that a tale about a Jew condemned by his compatriots,
albeit all money $$$ conscious, and all slightly hypocritical about
their personal values, favoring the Almightly $$$ dollar of the day over
family, friends and spiritual values, I find that this comparative study
between MOV and the contents of the KJV, in particular, the NT, to be
less than simplistic but highly complex.  For finding Shylock aka Shiloh
a Messianic Christ figure is ironic, and hardly simplistic, to say the
least.  Nor do I wish to flesh it out further than this.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Egert <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 19:25:52 +0000
Subject: 16.1213 Shylock as Shuffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Shuffering Servant

Bill Arnold writes, "if Shiloh is the the intended symbolic predecessor
for Shylock, then he can be seen as a Messianic Christ figure. Point for
point rendering between the Shakespearean text and Christology makes
Shylock as Shiloh compelling, and ironic[!]"

Bill is exactly right. In a play riddled with Christ figures, surely
Shakespeare would not Pass-over the Paschal Shylocke. Indeed the passage
GEN 49:10, straight from "the holy patriarch Jacob," is perhaps the
central crux of the Old Testament. Major segments of Christian and
Jewish tradition have identified Shiloh as the promised Messiah--only
his time of arrival being in dispute, past or future. Is it an accident
that Shylocke's betrothed Leah was his model Jacob's wife, mother of
Judah and through him the Davidic Messiah? JESsiCa, as Michael Luskin
reminded us, may indeed recall David's father Jesse as well as
JESusChrist himself (Shakespeare may be implicating her as Launcelet's
bastard child or even immaculately conceived).

Martin Luther (1483-1546), convinced of "Shiloh's" Messianic import,
devotes page after page to this very verse. Six years after nailing his
Theses to the body of the Church, he notes, "This prophecy can therefore
be understood to refer to none other than Jesus Christ our Lord, who is
of the tribe of Judah and of the royal lineage of David...that selfsame
Jesus" who (like Hamlet) began his mission to set the world right at age
thirty (at which age Luther attained his Doctorate). Luther himself
links "Shiloh" etymologically to the Hebrew "shliyah" or womb, thus
denoting Jesus as the immaculately conceived "son of the womb."

Let us examine Luther and Portia's approach to the Jewish question.
Luther, unlike Anthonio and his gang, always opposed forcible
conversion. Early on (1514) before sparking the Reformation in 1517,
Luther concluded, "the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God and his
King Christ...Conversion of the Jews will be the work of God alone
operating from within...for every one who is incorrigible is rendered
worse rather than better by correction." Supported after 1517 by many
Jews and especially marranos (who from Antwerp and elsewhere
disseminated his antipapal message), Luther mellowed even further,"They
[the papists] have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than
human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize
their property." Sound familiar? He goes on, "I hope [springing eternal]
that if one deals in a kindly way with the Jews and instructs them
carefully from Holy Scripture, many of them will become genuine
Christians...They will only be frightened further away if...they are
treated only with arrogance and scorn...we in our turn ought to treat
the Jews in a brotherly manner in order that we might convert some of
them...we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are
of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood
relatives...one must deal gently with them, as people who have been all
too strongly indoctrinated to believe that God cannot be man....Instead
of this we are trying only to drive them by force, slandering them [does
Martillo stem from the French "merde"?], accusing them of having
Christian blood if they don't stink, and I know not what other
foolishness. So long as we thus treat them like dogs, how can we expect
to work any good among them? Again, when we forbid them to do business
and have any human fellowship with us, therby forcing them into usury,
how is that supposed to do them any good?...we must be guided in our
dealings with them...by the law of Christian love. We must receive them
cordially and permit them to trade and work with us...If some of them
should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not
all good Christians either." A righteous Gentile?

In 1528, three years after the peasant rebels were crushed at his
insistence, Luther still opposed the legal slaughter of Protestant
schismatics like the Anabaptists: "You ask whether the magistrate may
kill false prophets. I am slow in a judgment of blood even when it is
deserved...I am terrified by the example of the papists and the Jews
before Christ, for when there was a statute for the killing of false
prophets and heretics...only the most saintly and innocent were
killed...It is enough to banish."

By 1543 Luther's hope of converting the Jews were dashed. Like spurned
suitors Paul and Muhammed before him, Luther turned on the Jews with a
vengeance. The shadow emerged from behind the mask, as minister became
scourge. His earlier benign approach was now one of "merciful severity"
(Ring a bell?). Here is his eight-point program for dealing with the Jews:
(1) Burn their synagogues and schools.
(2) Destroy their homes and treat them as gypsy captives.
(3) Take away their prayer-books, Talmuds, and Bibles.
(4) Forbid them from worshipping, publicly uttering God's name, and
teaching their religion on pain of death and mutilation.
(5) Deny them safe-conduct in travelling anywhere outside of their hovels.
(6) Prohibit their practice of usury; confiscate their cash, silver, and
gold to be drizzled back only upon sincere conversion to Luther's faith
of grace and mercy (a lesson for Portia et al?), for "by [usury] they
have stolen and robbed from us all they possess."
(7) Force physical labor upon them.
(8) And if all else fails, eternal expulsion. "They must be driven from
the country. We must drive them out like mad dogs. Let them think of
their own fatherland." (An early Zionist, no less!)

The Nazis later fulfilled and transcended Luther's new dispensation
toward the Jews. Luther stopped short of advocating genocide for Jews,
reserving it for false converts or marranos: "If a Jew, not converted at
heart, were to ask baptism at my hands, I would take him on to the
bridge, tie a stone around his neck, and hurl him into the river." In
the course of his rants, Luther calls Jews mad dogs, a brood of vipers,
base children of the devil, fit for the deepest pit of hell, lustful
bloodthirsty murderers, malicious, pernicious, assassins, "an
insufferable devilish burden", "venomous bitter vindictive serpents",
"an evil possessed lot", "an impenitent accursed people", "a mixture of
all the depraved and malevolent knaves of the whole world over", and on
and on.
He revels in their past Roman-inflicted deaths "in the millions"
(prophetic?) when "the streets ran with their blood." He spreads the
libels of Jews as poisoners of wells and kidnappers of children.

Luther's Reformation cofounder John Calvin was little better: "Their
rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed
unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery
without anyone's pity."

Perhaps, Erasmus had it right, "If it is Christian to hate Jews, then we
are all good Christians."

When Shylocke alludes to the demon-possessed Gadarene swine meeting
their watery demise, does Myriad Man have in mind these murderous
religious fanatics herein depicted?

Your friendly circumcised devil dog,
Joe Egert

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Egert <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 19:51:55 +0000
Subject: 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1213 Shylock as Suffering Servant

Shylocke has often been associated with the Puritan usurers of London,
the so-called Jewish Christians, with their sober demeanor and unmusical
tastes. Even Topcliffe, Elizabeth's pet Puritan racker, has been linked
to the plucky Jew. Yet Robert Fleissner has identified an appealing
counter-source in the British recusant Richard Shacklock, who compared
the plight of his fellow Catholic recusants to that of the Jews.
Shylocke here embodies the Catholic faithful under seige in Elizabeth's
Protestant police state (Portia's gang). Along these same lines,
Launcelet may represent a Luther figure moving from Shylocke's (old
Catholic) House to Bassanio's (new Protestant) Household, as suggested
in an earlier post (SHK 16.0629).

Myriad Man revels in these ambiguities and contradictions. Shakespeare
is a man for all factions, who see what they want, as do we.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 18:18:40 -0400
Subject: 16.1222 Shylock as Suffering Servant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1222 Shylock as Suffering Servant

 >Mr. Weiss, the reason why I did not send my essay before is because the
 >old web site for "shaksper" did not include the means for showing Hebrew
 >characters. The essay will be sent shortly.

As I said, there's no rush.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Basch <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jul 2005 17:31:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Conference: SHK 16.1222 Tuesday, 19 July 2005
Comment:        The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1222 Tuesday, 19 July 2005

S. L Kasten wrote:

 >How about "Shiloh?" [for the source of Shylock's name]
 >The Talmud gives Shiloh as one of the names of the Messiah on the
 >basis of a literal reading of Genesis XLIX v. 10 in Jacob's
 >blessing to Judah:
 >
 >"The sceptre will not depart from Judah......until Shiloh come;
 >and unto Him shall the obedience of the people be".

and Joe Egert wrote:

 >Why did Shakespeare christen Leah's husband "Shylocke"? Florence
 >Amit has already voted. Bill A. and David B., as respective Sons
 >of Paul and Jacob, what say ye?

Syd Kasten recapitulates the surmise from my book, The Hidden
Shakespeare, that the name Shylock derives from Shyloh from a much
pondered over biblical line. It seems to be an expression of the hope
for messianic times when such righteous persons as Shylock would receive
their reward for faithful and loving service to God. (After all, he
commits no crime and robs no one, but only says too much for his own good.)

I noted in the book that in Hebrew, Shiloh is spelled ShYLH, with the
Hebrew Y (Yud) as part of the spelling of the name and with the caps of
ShYLH corresponding to the Hebrew letters. (The Hebrew shin is a single
letter and is sounded as SH.) In written Hebrew, Shylok (ShYLK) is one
letter away from ShYLH.

It is in anticipating messianic times when things would be better for
Jews like him, that Shylock is named as he is, an expression of a big
hearted poet who honors all good men.

Of course, this view grows out of the reading of the play that Shylock
is portrayed with a dose of "spiritual gold," an observation made by
Gentile scholar. Shylock meant well by trying to befriend Antonio. But
when things went wrong, he was very prideful and wanted to rescue his
pride by the unwise charade he set up to force Antonio to plead for
mercy from a Jew. This led others to see him as a ghoul and to set him
back, something Shylock in his prideful anger did not count on.

As we know from Proverbs, "Pride goeth before a fall." Proverbs also
warns that one should not go to court unless the outcome is known, lest
you be embarrassed in the end. Shylock pays heavily for his character
shortcomings that led him to throw caution to the winds, forgetting that
his world was not already floating in the righteousness of messianic
times, a lack that would express itself in court.

David Basch

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