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mock biblical


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A rhetorical strategy in which scriptural quotations, typologies, or tropes are used for satirical ends. Appropriating the Bible to satirize the maculate world of human vice and folly typically gives the mock‐biblical a special sting. The Bible provides a recognizable stock of images, catch‐phrases, and characters: two squabbling authors might be cast as Cain and Abel, or a foundering prime minister portrayed as Moses in the wilderness. A cluster of writings surrounding the Popish Plot trials of 1679 and the Exclusion Crisis of 1681—most notably Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel (1681)—propelled the mock‐biblical into the mainstream of partisan political writing. A flood of typological, political, and ecclesiastical satire followed Dryden's success. That the Bible was satirically exploited by Anglicans, Dissenters, and Roman Catholics alike is evidenced by Swift's A Tale of a Tub (1704) and The Drapier's Letters (1724), Defoe's The True‐Born Englishman (1701), and Pope's conclusion of The Dunciad (1728, 1742), among other examples.

Subjects: Literature.


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