Abstract: William Heminge’s critically neglected play The Jewes Tragedy (c. 1628–30; pub. 1662) presents a singular illustration of the seventeenth-century preoccupation with the siege and destruction of Jerusalem described by Josephus in The Jewish Wars (75 CE). Unlike other early modern retellings which habitually interpret the tragic event as divine punishment for the Jews’ rejection of Christ, Heminge eschews the conventional Christian moral and its accompanying providentialist rhetoric in favor of a thoughtful political analysis of the Jews’ defeat at the hands of the Romans. This article analyzes Heminge’s secular focus in the context of the fraught political and religious climate of the late 1620s, when the play was composed, as well as the Restoration during which it was first published. Specifically, it investigates the contentious interrogation of providentialism and the corresponding shift away from religious etiology and a deterministic worldview (in which God assigns the outcome) to a conception of history that emphasizes human actions over divine intervention.
Studies in Philology – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jan 17, 2014
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