By Deborah L. Madsen (auth.)
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Extra info for Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism
In Piers Plowman, not only Abraham and Haukyn but especially Piers himself introduce Will, the protagonist, to the potential power of typological Allegory in the Old World 29 interpretation. The personification, Conscience, explains to Will that Christ represents many things and that the significance of the primary images of the narrative is grounded in Christ-the-Zogos. But it is the figurally constructed character of Piers the Plowman who repeats the typologically significant events in the life of Christ and by repeating these acts Piers draws together the typological meanings of the sacred events.
The power of rhetoric was exploited by the Massachusetts elite to promote a peculiar view 38 Allegory in Colonial New England 39 of the nature of the colonized New World, a view which depended crucially upon the role of the clergy within colonial government. That the ideal church-state never became a political reality only enhanced the appeal of a rhetorical style which asserted the authority of the clergy to speak both for God and for the community. Recent work by Harry S. 1 Stout has shown that typology was used in two quite distinct ways in colonial sermons: in regular preaching, typology reveals a pattern of prophetic biblical meanings which are abstract and spiritual in import.
The early homiletical narratives abound with examples of scriptural tropes, taken out of the context of the scriptural narrative, and interpreted as complex figurative statements of Christian dogma. Usually it was moral lore that was expounded in this fashion which was perceived to be comprehensible to laymen as well as to clerics. An example of this moralization of scriptural tropes is to be found in Jacob's Well, a treatise dealing with penitential lore, which incorporates an interpretation of the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-4) and its five porches.
Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism by Deborah L. Madsen (auth.)