History 2

The History of Reading, Volume 1: International by Shafquat Towheed

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By Shafquat Towheed

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Extra resources for The History of Reading, Volume 1: International Perspectives, c.1500–1990

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Since the formulae were no longer actually necessary, their frequent employment was no longer a reassurance as it had been, but was becoming increasingly annoying as it would be for a modern audience. Rather than holding a story together, they began to be seen as unnecessary filler that distracted from the meat of the story. They could ultimately be done away with. Good poetry would be novel, and not all literature need be in verse. Prose, John Ford 29 which had long been acceptable for scientific, religious or didactic treatises, was finally becoming acceptable for narration, or fiction, of an essentially ludic nature.

Thomas Bisse, for example, argues that its inclusion of readings from the Old and the New Testaments at each service was a way of demonstrating the unity of the Bible, the ‘harmony and consent’ between the two Testaments. The faith of hearers will be better established, he says, because by this mode of Bible reading they are ‘gradually led from a darker revelation to a clearer view, and prepared by the veils of the Law to bear the light breaking forth in the Gospel’. 18 As far as public reading of the Bible is concerned, the evidence seems incontrovertible that early modern Protestants were strongly of the view that it should not be read in a disconnected, piecemeal fashion.

Then write upon the toppe of every leafe the title for that that thou wouldest observe in reading. . In reading observe onely such places as stare thee in the face, that are so evident, thy heart cannot looke of them. . In noting the places, set downe under each title only the booke, Chapter, and verse, and not the words, for that will tire thee in the end. . 25 Many more examples of books of advice on how to read the whole Bible through in a year might be cited. In a table appended to A Way to the Tree of Life (1647), John White set out a programme beginning on 1 January, with two or three chapters from the Old Testament and one from the New being read each day up to the middle of September, W.

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