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Monday, August 22, 2011

Shakespear & the Psalmist

From Hamlet, Act 2, scene 2, we have:
I have of late-but wherefore I know not-lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire- why, it appeareth no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a 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!
From Psalm 8, we have:
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than Elohim and crowned them with glory and honor.
Elohim is translated as "angel" in this passage, and this passage alone, by the NIV. Everywhere else it is translated as God. In fact, there is a passage is Exodus, I believe, explaining how Elohim and YHWH are the same entity by different names.

I think it is interesting to read the conflicting views of human exceptionalism expressed in both passages. Hamlet's laments often remind me a bit of Ecclesiastes as well.