Saturday, January 17, 2009

Curious Parallel

In reading John Calvin's Institutes, book one, chapter five, I came across a passage that reminded me of a speech in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. Somewhere in my background reading on Calvin, one of the authors theorized that, due to the timing and wide distribution of the Institutes, it was conceivable that Shakespeare may have had the opportunity to read them himself. So now I wonder at the curious parallel I find here...

In discussing how so many men see ample evidence of a Creator even in their own bodies, Calvin writes,

"They see such exquisite workmanship in their individual members, from mouth and eyes even to their very toenails... But such agile motions of the soul, such excellent faculties, such rare gifts, especially bear upon the face of them a divinity that does not readily allow itself to be hidden..." (p. 56)

And now the Bard,

"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" (Act II, scene ii)


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