The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional by Bob Hostetler

Did you know that Shakespeare’s plays are full of Bible references? Some are obvious, but many require very careful reading and a thorough familiarity with the Bible.

            The Bard and the Bible pairs 365 short passages from the King James Version of the Bible with lines from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. The poetry of  Shakespeare and the power of God’s Word will enrich the reader’s understanding and appreciation of both.

Shakespeare’s writing contains more references to the Bible than the plays of any other Elizabethan playwright. Numerically the book with the most references is the book of Psalms, and usually Shakespeare refers to this book as it appears in the Anglican Prayer Book. The Bible story that appears most often—more than 25 times—is the story of Cain and Abel. There are so many references to the opening chapters of Genesis in Shakespeare’s plays that scholars make comments to the effect that Shakespeare must have had these chapters nearly memorized. Shakespeare’s allusions are sometimes generalized, as for example to characters in the Bible, but often the parallels are linguistic and specific, requiring a specialist’s knowledge.

In each reading, Hostetler takes a line from Shakespeare and a similar verse from the KJV, ties them together and weaves a knowledgeable snippet that gives insight into one of Shakespeare’s works and the Bible.  Hostetler uses appropriately places humor throughout giving the books a light feel for some deep subjects.

I have always been intrigued with Shakespeare’s works and what I like most about Hostetler’s work is his devotional question at the end of each day; appropriate to the referenced subject and provoked deep thought. Whether or not you know much about Shakespeare you will find interesting tidbits in this clever and unique devotional connecting Shakespeare and the bible.

I received a digital copy of this book from Worthy Publishing Group in  their First Look Blog Tour for my review.