Martyrdom in the Literal Sense:

Surrey’s Psalm Paraphrases*1)




James Simpson





Martyrdom produces biography, just as a given writer’s foreseen martyrdom produces autobiography. It is no accident, for example, that the first autobiography in the English vernacular, that of Margery Kempe, was produced by someone much whose life was spent travelling to the sites of martyrdom. The pain of Kempe’s own life comes into profile as an object worthy of narration in the bright light of saintly suffering. Neither is it an accident that John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments should be the source of so much biographical information; in keeping with a long tradition of pre-Reformation procedures of canonisation, Foxe assiduously collects biographical documents that bear witness to the exemplary status of the suffering martyr.

The subject of this essay was not a martyr in the formal sense: Henry Howard, Early of Surrey, was beheaded for political treason on 19 January 1547. He had been convicted on charges of having treasonously displayed royal arms in his coat of arms. Surrey spent most of the period between the date of his final arrest on 2 December 1546 and his execution almost seven weeks later in the Tower.2)  The works that Surrey seems certainly to have written during this period of imprisonment are, however, very much those of a person who feels himself to be an evangelical martyr. Those works are as follows: Psalms 54, 72, and 87 (Vulgate numbering).3)  There is circumstantial evidence that he also translated Psalms 30 and 50.4)  Shortly before this final imprisonment, in, possibly, the spring of 1546, after his return from France in military disgrace, Surrey had produced paraphrases of Ecclesiastes Chapters 1-5 inclusive.5)  At least one of these works seems to have been drawn upon by another Protestant martyr, and paraphrases of some of the same Psalms were produced by other Tudor courtiers who present themselves as martyrs.

If foreseen martyrdom produces autobiography, and if Surrey felt himself to be a martyr, then we might expect his paraphrases to be highly personal, speaking for Surrey’s specific and deeply painful circumstances at the turn of 1546 into 1547. These paraphrases do indeed bear a highly personal charge, but in this essay I want to argue that the personal charge derives precisely from the inability of these psalms to speak for Surrey. The chosen psalms, like many others, are themselves the monologic expression of a paranoid voice: a voice alone, surrounded by enemies, and calling for succour from the single source of an entirely silent, unresponsive, and transcendent power. Whereas the psalms have always been a source of strength for those in dire straits, speaking as they often do with the voice of lonely and penitent suffering, Surrey’s paraphrases offer a stark contrast: they offer no consolation, and instead express only pain and isolation.

This bleakness derives, I argue, from the interpretative environment of these Biblical translations in the 1540s. In the first place, Biblical interpretation has been nationalised and rests, in both statutory practice and biblical theory, in the person of the king, now Surrey’s enemy. And secondly, evangelical hermeneutics prohibit any but the literal sense. These psalms express paranoia and, by the ‘lively faith’ adopted by Surrey, refuse to do anything else but express paranoia, held as they are within the literal sense. The hermeneutic environment of these paraphrases serves, that is, merely to replicate and the paranoia of the psalms themselves. If paranoia provokes painful and fruitless self-reflection in the mirror, these psalm translations produce, finally, nothing but a mirror-image of lonely torment.

The evangelical martyr becomes the truest witness by becoming the textual witness itself, dying, as we shall see, not merely for the Gospel, but dying in some profound sense as the Gospel. In this case the textual witness turns out, therefore, to be self-consuming. By becoming the textual witness (or ‘μαρτυρ’ in its literal meaning), the evangelical courtier becomes a martyr in the modern sense. So the very texts Surrey chooses to express his fury and penitence themselves turn out to guarantee his death. If these paraphrases attempt to express Surrey’s deeply painful and dangerous biographical situation, they do so by adding to the pain and danger, and by refusing to console. The textual witness of the dying author, surrounded by false human witnesses, produces the martyr.



I


I begin by considering the ways in which these paraphrases evidently express both protest and outrage against Henry VIII, and against the false witness of Surrey’s many friends and family who had betrayed him at the end. The Ecclesiastes paraphrases are spoken in the voice of the king, and in so doing express the sheer grief of power from the inside. Solomon, the royal speaker, is appointed by God to lead his people in the laws of God, and, at the same time, feels both for himself and for his people a sense of disgust. His efforts to discover truth turn out to be nothing but

… an endles wourke of payne and losse of tyme,

For he, to wisdomes skoole, that doth applie his mynd,

The further that he wades ther in, the greater doubts shall find.6)

                                                               (Ecclesiastes 1; 48.40-42)


Some of the postures adopted by the Ecclesiastes chapters evoke Surrey’s own position: Solomon, like Surrey in disgrace,  ‘like to the sterles boote that swerues with euery wynde, / The slipper topp of worldely welthe by crewell prof I fynde’ (Ecclesiastes 3; 50.1-2). And like Surrey, who died with his new and ambitious palace of Surrey House unfinished,7)  Solomon bewails failed architectural ambition:

 Auncient walles to race is our unstable guyse,

And of their wether beten stones to buylde some new deuyse.

                                                          (Ecclesiastes 3; 50.11-12)

The greater burden of these royal monologues is not, however, to speak for Surrey as Surrey. It is, rather, a fascinating attempt to appropriate the king’s voice and to imagine the position from which that royal voice expresses nothing but its own grief and the near-despair of power. Solomon witnesses himself as a deformed and monstrous version of royal justice:

 … a roiall throne wheras that Iustice should haue sitt;

In stede of whom I saw, with fyerce and crwell mode,

Wher Wrong was set, that blody beast, that dronke the giltles blode.

                                                                 (Ecclesiastes 3; 50.44-46)

Surrey forces, or at least wishes into being, a royal self-recognition here, which clearly perceives the futility and injustice of its own exercise of power. He speaks with the voice of an aged king in order to rebuke ‘aged kyngs wedded to will, that worke with out aduice’ (Ecclesiastes 4; 51.36). The strategy of these paraphrases is identical to that attributed by Surrey to Wyatt’s paraphrases of the penitential psalms. These presented a mirror, so Surrey says, wherein rulers might see ‘the bytter frute of false concupicence’ (38.11). The imagined effect of these psalms is a royal shock of self-recognition and reform:

 In princes hartes Godes scourge yprinted deepe

Mowght them awake out of their synfull sleepe.

                                                             (38.13-14)

That these paraphrases seek to find a position from which to critique the king is corroborated by the fact that Anne Askew, held in the Tower before being burnt in July 1546, seems certainly to be echoing Surrey’s Ecclesiastes paraphrase, and seems equally certainly to be referring to the king:

I sawe a ryall trone

Where Justyce shuld have sytt

But in her stede was one

Of modye cruell wytt.

Absorpt was rygtwysnesse

As of the ragynge floude

Sathan in hys excesse

Suckte up the gyltelesse bloude.8)

Surrey’s Ecclesiastes paraphrases, then, would seem here to have been welcomed in an evangelical environment. They did so presumably because they offered a space for attacking the king even from within a discursive space that ostensibly belongs to the king himself.9)   The king’s voice attacks the king.

If the Ecclesiastes paraphrases exploit a Biblical position from which to criticise Henry VIII, what of the Psalm translations, written almost certainly from the Tower awaiting trial and under the threat of possible execution? Here Surrey abandons the voice of world-weary Solomon for that of his passionate and penitent father David. On the face of it, the stated posture of these paraphrases is one of penitence and self-accusation. Two of them are addressed to ‘friends’, Anthony Denny and George Blagge, in late 1546 both well-placed in the new alignment of evangelical and political forces set to assume authority after the imminent death of Henry VIII.10)  The prologues assume a posture of humble supplication, relying on the solidities of both friendship and of royal support. After, he says, justice had been wrought by ‘pryncelye equitie’,

My Deny, then myne errour depe imprest,

Began to worke dispaire of libertye,

Had not David, the perfyt warriour, tought

That of my fault thus pardon shold be sought. 

                                                          (35.5-8)

The actual content of these searing texts is, however, anything but penitent or humble; neither does it have any confidence whatsoever in the solidities of friendship or royal protection. On the contrary, their most consistent theme is the perfidy of friends and, only slightly more veiled, the disgusting grossness of unjust kings. The main thrust of the paraphrases is to call down upon these very figures, the psalm translations’ ostensible addressees, the most terrible divine vengeance. Thus Psalm 54 begins by expressing the fundamental position of the psalmist, surrounded by enemies and melting for fear were it not for his single, divine source of succour:

Giue eare to my suit, Lord! fromward hide not thy face.

Beholde, herking in grief, lamenting how I praye.

My fooes they brey so lowde, and eke threpe on so fast,

Buckleled to do me scathe, so is their malice bent.

Care perceth my entrayles, and traueyleth my spryte;

The greslye feare of death enuyroneth my brest.

                                                           (Psalm 54; 54.1-6)11)

The opening words imply the legal environment of psalmic address, appealing to God as the judge who alone can see the justice of Surrey’s suit, given the collapse of earthly judicial forms. This collapse is precisely that to which the psalm now turns: Surrey (to whom I shall attribute the voice of this psalm for convenience) has, he says, ‘decyphred’ the malgovernance of ‘our towne’. Guile and Wrong guard the walls, while Mischief governs the market place; Wickedness with Craft ‘swarme through the strete’ (Psalm 54; 54.15-17). Surrey inhabits an irredeemably duplicitous civic world, but what especially provokes his fear and fury is the false witness of intimate, evangelical friends. Known enemies have, he says, less power to wound, but this situation is especially unnerving, since it was

Myne old fere and dere frende, my guyde that trapped me;

Where I was wont to fetche the cure of all my care,

And in his bosome hyde my secreat zeale to God.

                                                         (Psalm 54; 54.24-26)

A ‘secreat zeale to God’ can only be an evangelical zeal, and the repeated accents of these psalm translations, like Wyatt’s paraphrases before him, leave no doubt of Surrey’s evangelical credentials. Just as Surrey had said that Wyatt’s paraphrases painted ‘the lively fayth and pure’ and offered a model for the ‘sweet returne to grace’ (38.7-8), so too, unmistakably, do Surrey’s texts strategically deploy evangelical vocabulary. He appeals to God ‘with words of hott effect’ (Psalm 54; 54.30), and with a ‘liuely voyce’ (Psalm 87; 88.29). God shows not his tokens, ‘Wherby eche feble hart with fayth might so be fedd / That in the mouthe of thy elect thy mercies might be spredd’ (Psalm 87; 88.21-2). The impious ‘sucke the fleshe of thy elect and bath them in their blode’ (Psalm 72; 73.24). The ‘temple of the Lorde’ is set within the humble spirit of ‘simple fayth’, wherein ‘for aye in his woord dothe rest’, and ‘in boost of owtwarde works he taketh no delight’ (Ecclesiastes 4.51-58). Surrey, like many Henrician courtiers, seems clearly to have adopted the new faith.12)

The unmistakable evangelical tone of these translations gains all the more force by contrast with the social world they depict. Spiritual relations, that is, are characterised by simplicity, the confirmation of election by sudden onrushes of grace, and, above all, by the ‘liuely voyce’ and unchanging Word in whom the elect maintain their ‘simple fayth’. By stark contrast, the depicted social world is thoroughly duplicitous, in which the words of false witnesses are nothing if not crafty and malicious: ‘rayne those unbrydled tungs! Breake that coniured league!’ (Psalm 54; 54.13), Surrey implores God. His enemy’s tongue is presented by ‘the wicked sort / Of those false wolves’ who swear falsely (Psalm 54; 54.42-3); his enemies ‘pierce the symple with their tungs that can make no defence’ (Psalm 72; 56.20).

The spiritual and civic worlds of these texts make opposite hermeneutic demands: while the spiritual Word is simple, unchanging and perceptible by trusting faith, the very slippery civic relations are opaque and wholly unstable; they resolutely  refuse to offer up their meaning. Surrey says that he has ‘decyphred’ the wickedness of ‘our towne’, but decryption is all the harder given that the false witnesses aligned against him are precisely those who had seemed to have shared Surrey’s ‘simple’ faith. It was ‘a frendly foo, by shadow of good will’, the one with whom Surrey had shared his ‘secreat zeale to God’, who has betrayed him.

The contrast between spiritual and social relations has an obvious logic of compensation: an irredeemably duplicitous social world, that is, powerfully recommends a spirituality of faith and simplicity. A social experience of total disillusion with the stabilities of human works powerfully recommends a spirituality in which works count for nothing. This is especially true of a social world wherein those who profess the ‘secreat zeale to God’ are the very ones who are most duplicitous. The wholly alienating social experience of court life is likely to produce a spirituality of martyrdom, a spirituality, that is, that prizes persecution of the single isolated figure as the surest guarantor of divine favour.

What is certain is that Surrey was indeed the victim of former friends and family having turned witness, often demonstrably false witness, against him. Surrey was first arrested on December 2 on the accusation of Richard Southwell, Surrey’s childhood friend who had been raised in the Howard household. On December 15 the Privy Council mention two unnamed ‘witnesses’ to treasonable words by Surrey, to the effect that he had confessed to a plan to overthrow both Henry VIII and Prince Edward. In the actual trial on heraldic charges, this initial charge is unmentioned and the two witnesses to the treasonous words are nowhere mentioned.13)  In preparation for this trial, depositions were taken from at least twenty-two witnesses.14)  Gawain Carew and Edward Rogers had, like Southwell, served with Surrey in France; both testified against him. George Blage had been a friend. To Edward Warner, who testified against him, Surrey had dedicated a poem. Edmund Knyvett his cousin offered testimony against him. His sister testified most actively to damn Surrey.15)  The heraldic charges against Surrey were, as Peter Moore has recently argued, wholly spurious; he surmises that the plot against the Howards was generated by fear of a Council dominated by anti-evangelicals after the death of the king, and argues that Surrey was ‘killed as a precaution’.16)  Susan Brigden further suggests that the Howard lands provided powerful incentive for the campaign against them:

Many of the those who had made the condemnation of Surrey possible - Blage, Southwell, Knyvet, Warner, Devereux, Barker, Hussey, Bellingham, Fulmerston - joined the gadarene rush for grants and offices at the turn of the year.17)

Surrey was indeed the victim of a swarm of false witnesses, a victim, in the words of a translation of Proverbs printed in 1550, of:

A witnes false that doth his lippes deceitfully applye

And couertly hys neighboure greue with some new forged lye.18)

What is equally certain is that other courtiers in Surrey’s situation also saw particular attractions in the posture of the isolated, betrayed psalmic voice, alone remaining true in a sea of betrayal. In the present discussion of Surrey’s imaginings of one true against all false, the most pertinent of these texts is by George Blage, one of Surrey’s former friends who bore witness against Surrey in December 1546. In July of that same year Blage was himself in the Tower, having been condemned to burn for heresy.19)  He presents himself in precisely the way Surrey does, as the evangelical courtier caught in the treacherous lubricities of courtly conspiracy, imagining his own martyrdom. The parallels with Surrey’s psalm translations are striking. Blage’s affinities are more explicitly evangelical. The bishops have painted the Roman Church ‘wythe rose color of persecutid bloud’, ‘burninge insence of a suiet sauery woud’ (274).20)  As Surrey, Blage too imagines himself trapped by the very people who should have protected him:

Our gides haue erd and walked out of the wey

And we bi them full crafftely ar trapt

Whom thei s[h]old lede they driue out of arey.

                                                                 (273)

And as a victim of those who have ‘conspirid … agienst  the liveinge Lorde’, and of ‘fawls conspiraci’, Blage poses himself as the lonely and faithful hero prepared to ‘abyde by thy tru wourde’, even unto martyrdom:

And I O Lorde into thi handes do yield

My faythfull soul apoyntyd now of the

This lyffe to leue thoro fier in smythefild.

                                                         (276)

For Blage as for Surrey, the promised simplicities and stabilities of the new evangelical religion offer the one point of repair from, and contrast to, an otherwise wholly untrustworthy and mutable civic experience.



II


So in obvious ways the psalmic voice is expressive of the Tudor courtier caught in a moment of treacherous transition. Surrounded by the false witness of former friends, the evangelical courtier abandons hope in works and human words that have proven so untrustworthy, and falls back instead on faith in the simple, abiding Word of God. That might explain why the psalms in particular were so attractive to courtiers like Wyatt, Surrey, Blage and, a few years later, Thomas Smith and John Dudley.21)  As Brad Gregory has said of the psalms and sixteenth-century martyrs’ frequent use of them, ‘For persecuted Christians, these were indeed ancient songs for modern times’.22)  Tudor courtiers had especial reason to feel persecuted.

In this section I want, however, to argue that the evangelically-inflected psalms, for all their obvious attractions, offered no deliverance from the frightening social world of the Tudor court. Translated in the political conditions of late Henrician England, and under the conditions of evangelical hermeneutics more generally, the psalms turn out to replicate the experience of paranoia. They lead inexorably to the stake or, in Surrey's case, the block. The Protestant God, like the Tudor king, turns out to operate in wholly unpredictable and opaque ways, and never answers the suppliant, who is himself restricted to the literal sense alone of the biblical address. That narrow textual space turns out to guarantee his utter powerlessness. The evangelical Tudor courtier, that is, adopts the very theology whose power relations bear the most striking similarities to the practice of Henrician politics. Both the Protestant God and the Tudor king distribute or refuse to distribute their grace in ways wholly unconstrained by the effort, or estimated self-worth of their suppliants.  That, after all, is the very nature of grace in the first place. When the courtier speaks against the king to God, God’s word has already been claimed by the king. Both the theology and the politics produce martyrs.

The first person voice of the psalms, and the intensity of their appeal to God, invite deeply personal appropriation by the persecuted. Twenty years after Surrey’s death, Matthew Parker’s translation of Athanasius makes this point: ‘Whosoever take this booke [the Psalms] in his hande, he reputeth and thinketh all the wordes he redeth (except the wordes of prophecy) to be his very owne wordes spoken in his own person’.23)  I turn now to Surrey’s paraphrases, and see how his words, on reflection, are not wholly ‘spoken in his own person’, no matter how much they might try to do just that.

Surrey produces not a translation so much as a paraphrase. This form of textual reproduction is extremely exacting. By Roger Ascham’s account of 1570, only ‘a perfite Master’ should practise it.24) Paraphrasis is challenging, since it must work within a very tight demand for change within very narrow possibilities. It is, Ascham says, audax contentio, an audacious effort to ‘thinke to say better, than is the best’ (246). It should use only ‘other fitte wordes’, but not alter the ‘composition, forme, and order’ of the original text (248).

Surrey’s immediate model for Scriptural paraphrase was the paraphrase of the Psalms by John Campensis (published in Paris by the commission of Thomas Berthelet in 1534, and available in an English translation of 1534),25)   upon which he relied, along with the Vulgate and the Coverdale 1535 translation, for his own paraphrases. He also had a model for such treatment of the Biblical text in Erasmus’ paraphrase of the New Testament, a translation of which by Nicholas Udall and others was published in 1548. In his own Preface, Udall defines paraphrase as ‘a plain settyng fourth of a texte or sentence more at large, with such circumstance of mo and other wordes, as maie make the sentence open, clere, plain and familiar’ (f. xiiiir).26)  His translation of Erasmus’ own preface, addressed to Charles V originally in 1522, is more precise about the tight constraints within which paraphrase must operate. About paraphrase Erasmus says this:

… it commeth to passe that the wryters penne is kept shut within the enclosure of an excedyng streyght grate, because it is debarred from that libertie, which all other sortes of commentaries doe suffer and receive (for a paraphrase also is to be reputed as a kynde of commentarie).

                                                                                                   (fol. xviii)

The gospel is so plain, he goes on, that whoever shall make of paraphrase of it ‘shall seme nothyng else to doe, but at noontyde to light a candell’ (fol. xviii). Paraphrase, that is, simultaneously demands lexical variation and exact semantic replication.

Some of Surrey’s paraphrases have been described as exceptionally ‘free’.27) On the whole, however, they hold remarkably close to the paraphrase of Campensis. Surrey might, it is true, sharpen the evangelical edge of his work with the addition of specifically Protestant vocabulary, but many passages that seem to be personal or political references turn out to have their source in Campensis.28)  Surrey’s additions are, as we shall see, such as to disallow a description of his work as merely ‘lighting a candle at noon’, but he does stick remarkably close to his sources, remaining for the most part ‘shut within the enclosure of an excedyng streght grate’.29)  Is this purely a literary decision, Surrey’s way of producing Scripture as his ‘very owne wordes spoken in his own person’, or are his words already spoken for in significant ways? I want now to argue that his words are already in powerful senses claimed by others. There are two, finally convergent, aspects to this question. The first concerns the surprising relation between Henrician and evangelical hermeneutics. The second derives from the evangelical notion of the biblical text as embodied in the suffering martyr. In what remains of this section I deal with the convergence of Henrician and evangelical hermeneutics.

In 1542-3 a statute was passed entitled ‘An Acte for the Advancement of True Religion’. The situation the act addresses is the seditious and disruptive translation of Scripture. Many ‘seditious’ and ‘arrogant’ people have translated and interpreted the Bible, creating schism ‘of theyre perverse frowarde and malicious myndes willes and intentes intending to subverte the veraye true and perfecte exposicion … of the saide Scripture, after theyre pervers fantasies’.30)  The legislative response to this hermeneutic anarchy is carefully to delimit the spaces in which and the social classes by which vernacular Bible reading is permitted, and to disallow Biblical interpretation. Tyndale’s translation is proscribed. All ‘annotacions and preambles’ to other translated Bibles must be cut out. Moral songs and plays are permitted, as long as they avoid interpretations of Scripture. No women below noble women and gentlewomen may read the bible, and they may only read it to themselves, alone. No other women, and no men below the class of merchant may read it. Noblemen may read or have it read by his family and servants in his house or garden. Merchants may read it privately. An exception is made for Psalters, prymers, the Pater Noster, the Ave and the Crede: these may be read by anyone ‘in theyre houses’. That suggests that the Psalter is entirely personal, and without any political or prophetic danger. The last clause of the Act takes care, however, to close off that possibility; this declares that, even within the licit spaces and classes of Biblical reader, no-one shall ‘take upon him openlye to dispute or argue, to debate or discuss or expounde Holy Scripture or any parte therof … upon the paynes of oone monethes imprysonment’ (3: 896).31)

The king’s power and responsibility to govern the dissemination and interpretation of Scripture had, by the time of this statute, already been theorised in the vernacular. Very soon after the Act of Supremacy, Christopher St German had argued in his Answer to a Letter (1535) that the King had not assumed any new powers that he did not already possess by the Act of 1534.32)  These already-possessed powers include control of Scripture. St German argues that many passages of Scripture are in any case plain, but that where expert opinion is required, this should be the preserve of the king. Discrimination in such matters cannot be the preserve of the Clergy, since many of these passages precisely concern the Clergy, and so their judgement would be prejudicial. The king has care not only for the material, but also for the spiritual well-being of his subjects, which includes governance of Scripture. If, Saint German argues, any instability should arise from ‘any exposition of Scripture be it by doctours, prechers or any other, then kings haue power to stable them’.33)  Kings and their counsellors may ‘make exposycyon of such Scripture as is doutfull so as they shall thynk to be the true understandyng of it and none but they’. Subjects are ‘bounden euen by the lawe of God to folowe their exposycion’.34)  A theoretical defence of royal hermeneutic supremacy of this kind underlies the strictures in the Act of 1542-3.

Surrey’s Biblical translation potentially incurs, then, the penalties of the law. Translation by the nobleman is permitted, but what is not permitted is any interpretation of the Biblical text. Surrey’s paraphrases actually work within that stricture; his choice of paraphrase, and a mode of paraphrase much more tightly bound to the Scriptural text than, for example, Wyatt’s Penitential Psalms, may itself be prompted by that stricture. Certainly evangelical commentary on psalm material, even as it stays close to the literal sense, was proscribed in precisely the period of Surrey’s own paraphrases. Thomas Becon’s David’s Harp, published in 1542, is a commentary on Psalm 115.35)  It shares common traits with Surrey’s psalm translations: Becon chooses, for example, the opening of Psalm (Vulgate) 72 (also paraphrased by Surrey), to express the condition of the persecuted saint.36)  Becon’s work was banned in July 1546, along with much other evangelical material, including many psalm translations, in ‘A Proclamation for the Abolishing of English Books.’37)

Political control of Scriptural reading was not the only constraint on Surrey. More profoundly, he was subject to an evangelical, theological constraint. Surrey works within a Tyndalian concept of the Biblical text.  Tyndale’s prologues manifest deep and unresolved tensions between the textual ideals of philological accuracy on the one hand and relevance to contemporary readers on the other. In his Preface to his Pentateuch translation of 1530, Tyndale thus encourages his reader to think ‘that every syllable pertaineth to thine owne self’.38)  At the same time, he is committed to philological accuracy, declaring, for example, that he never altered ‘one syllable of God’s word against my conscience’.39)  The point where these two often-irreconcilable desiderata meet is in high praise for the literal sense. Scripture is ‘a comfort in adversity that we despair not’, and ‘This comfort shalt thou evermore find in the plain text and literal sense’.40)  To the arrogant learned who say that Scriptural understanding is impossible without the application of allegory, the simple reader of the literal sense should reply thus: ‘That they were written for our consolation and comfort; that we despair not, if such should happen unto us’.41)  Relevance, then, is found in what medieval exegetes would have called the tropological, or moral sense; this, however, is visible at the literal level, without recourse to historical allegory, and without reference either to past or future. For Tyndale, Biblical allegory does not replicate the dynamic of salvation history; on the contrary, allegory is a pedagogic tool, useful only in making an instructional point more forcefully. Biblical interpretation should avoid interpretation; it should ideally restrict itself to the literal level, and especially to God’s promises. At most, it may extend to the moral level. It must not, however, read future promise allegorically encoded into the Biblical text.

Protestant historiography tends to champion the recovery of the literal sense from the deceptions of allegory as a moment of liberation.  And given that Henrician legislation often targeted evangelical Biblical material, it looks on the face of it as if Henrician policy in its conservative phases was the enemy of evangelical biblical translation. From a larger perspective, however, the clash between Henrician policy and evangelical Bible production may be superficial.  From this perspective, Tyndalian hermeneutics look rather less liberating, since they are in many ways convergent with royal hermeneutic interests. For both Tyndale and the official hermeneutics prohibit anything but (in Tyndale’s words) the ‘plain text and literal sense’, or they demand (in the words of the 1542-3 statute) ‘annotacions’ to be excised. The suggestion that Tyndalian hermeneutics converge with royal interests is implicitly confirmed by Tyndale’s discussion of hermeneutics in The Obedience of a Christian Man, the work most explicitly defending obedience to monarchs, even obedience to tyrants.42)  For both the legislation and for Tyndale, the Bible must be read within the strict temporal limits of the literal sense. Of course, Tyndale’s Lutheran hermeneutics do see a promise embedded within the literal level, but that promise is, in Tyndale’s view, contained only in the explicit, contractual covenants made in the Scriptural text.43) Where Scripture does not contain those future promises, the biblical text might mirror the pain of its reader, but it cannot transform that pain through promise of future deliverance.



III


Both evangelical and Henrician hermeneutics, then, leave the Biblical reader suffering within the exiguous confines of the literal sense. In the psalms that Surrey chooses to paraphrase that textual space is the space of unending pain. How does an evangelical theology and hermeneutics accommodate that undeniable suffering?

The psalm material that Surrey chooses to paraphrase all expresses the isolation of a voice totally and terrifyingly betrayed by intimate friends, and calling on a silent God for violent retribution. Until the happy day in which his enemies will be ruthlessly exposed and punished, the psalmist must remain suspended in pain: ‘My eyes yeld teares, my yeres consume bitwne hope and dispayre’ (Psalm 72; 56.45-50). In this social world, suspended between ‘hope and dispayre’, the psalmist appeals to God as the one source of his comfort. To the ‘lively name’ of God he appeals with a ‘lively voyce’, as one of the ‘elect’. This very appeal is made, however, only by way of signalling its uncertainty. Why, the psalmist begs, does God refuse to appear in defence of his own,

To shewe such tokens of thy power, in sight of Adams lyne,

  Wherby eche feble hart with fayth might so be fedd

That in the mouthe of thy elect thy mercyes might be spredd?

  The flesche that fedeth wormes can not thy love declare,

Nor suche sett forth thy faith as dwell in the land of dispaire.

  In blind endured herts light of thy lively name

Can not appeare, as can not judge the brightnes of the same.

                                                               (Psalm 87; 55.20-26)

The very formulation of the appeal to this God threatens, then, to expose its groundlessness, since God does not respond. God’s redeeming action is perceptible only through an unequivocal series of negatives.  The more silent God is the greater the intensity of appeal, but this in turn merely underlines the undeniable possibility that God is silent precisely because the speaker is not one of the ‘elect’. This psalmic praise of God threatens to declare its own impotence, as the voice ‘in the land of dispaire’, unable to declare God’s mercies. A song of praise threatens to die in its very utterance.

Having deciphered the malicious craft of his social world, Surrey is left, that is, facing an even more impenetrable God. The hermeneutic challenge posed by this God is that the psalmist should continue to interpret God’s apparent punishment and apparent rejection of the sinner as the surest sign of his ultimate favour: the psalmist complains his woe from a bottomless pit, where ‘O Lorde, thow hast cast me hedling to plese my fooe’ (Psalm 87; 55.9). From within the strict limits of the literal―strict limits of unrelieved pain―not only are social relations wholly vitiated by mistrust; so too do the spiritual relations between the solitary complainant and his inscrutable God offer only present pain and suffering on which to meditate. If the psalmist is to draw consolation from this situation, he can draw it only by interpreting pain as a kind of pleasure. The experience of painful persecution must turn out to be a consolation, since it is a very sign of election.

This transformation of pain into consolation is theorised in much evangelical reflection on the experience of persecution. Evangelical writers did not flinch from the necessity of embracing the martyr’s death when occasion presented itself, and to do so they needed to present the horror of pain, and especially of death by fire, as an immolation devoutly to be wished. An example from within the textual environment of Surrey’s own psalm paraphrases, Thomas Becon’s psalm commentary of 1542, takes especial care to praise persecution as a necessary sign of God’s favour. Becon generates his account of the martyr’s suffering by reference to the psalmic situation. He translates, indeed, the very psalm (Vulgate 73) that Surrey paraphrases. The psalmist contemplates his own terrible suffering while the corrupt prosper: ‘My feete were almost gone, sayth Dauid, my treadynges had nygh slypt for I was sore greaueed at the wicked to se the ungodly in such prosperite’.44)  Consolation derives from two sources: in the first place, the powerful enemies will certainly be crushed. And in the second, more profoundly, persecution is itself a sure sign of God’s favour. Martyrdom is, says the psalmist, precious in the sight of the Lord (‘Pretiosa in conspectu Domini / Mors sanctorum eius’ [Psalm 115.15]). Drawing especially on Paul,45)  Becon theorises the connection between persecution and favour as follows:

Of all these scriptures it is evident, that it is no sorrowful, but joyful thing to suffer persecution for righteousness sake, for the glory of God, and the promotion of his most blessed Worde. Neither is it a token of God’s wrath, but rather of his singular benevolence and high good will toward them, which are troubled for his sake.46)

Persecution is to be welcomed, precisely as the surest sign of God’s favour to his chosen saints. The martyred saints are punished in few things, but will deserve reward in many:

God proveth them, and findeth them mete for himself, yea as gold in the furnace doth he try them, and receiveth them as a burnt offering…The righteous shall shine as the sparks, that run through the red bush.47)

Becon’s strategy here is clearly to transform the hard realities of the burnt martyr’s suffering (furnaces, sparks and burning bushes) into their opposites, as sure signs of a very bright and hot election.

That encouragement to martyrdom is, I suppose, a fairly predictable rhetorical strategy for a group facing persecution. It also allows for the unsettling possibility, of course, that the group facing persecution must actively seek persecution. For not to experience persecution would be to lack the assurance of God’s favour. Such a perception would make sense of the peculiar mixture of doubt and trust in Surrey’s Tower paraphrases. In Surrey’s situation the Word of God remains locked and hidden, inaccessible to interpretative scrutiny, even as Surrey paraphrases the Biblical text. Given the sinner’s uncertainty as to his own salvation, he must implicitly distrust the sincerity of his own voice. Confidently declaring ‘thy worde’, even in the very act of biblical paraphrase, must remain only a future possibility:

  And my unworthye lypps, inspired with thy grace,

Shall thus forspeke thy secret works, in sight of Adams race.

                                         (Psalm 73; 56.65-6; my emphasis)

If consolation is to be found in the Biblical text, it is not within the dynamics of the text itself, as would be the case within a typological reading. Consolation, such as it is, is to be found only in the text’s demand that the sinner continue to recognise present suffering as the sign of election.

I want by way of conclusion to deepen the notion that both the evangelical martyr and the evangelical biblical translator (occasionally the same people) are in some ways self-propelled to the stake. For I want to argue that the surest way of confirming the authenticity of the Biblical text is to suffer for it. The surest way of confirming the witness of the Gospel is to become a bodily textual witness by being a suffering martyr, or ‘witness’.

The intimate connection between the biblical text and martyrdom is everywhere apparent in evangelical writing of this period of persecution. To go no further than Becon again, for example, we read that

the blood of the holy martyrs is the water, wherewith the gospel of Christ is watered and made to grow. So that persecution hindereth not the glory of the gospel … but furthereth it greatly. And where most persecution is, there doth God’s word most of al florish.48)

Metaphorical connections between bodily pain and biblical growth are frequent: Foxe, for example, reports Tyndale’s encouragement to Frith in the Tower awaiting martyrdom. ‘Your cause’, says Tyndale, ‘ is Christ’s gospel, a light that must be fed with the blood of faith … That oil [must be] poured in every evening and morning, that the light go not out’.49) And evangelical martyrs did often die at the stake with the biblical text attached to them.50)  These connections are underwritten, in my view, by a deeper connection between the body as authenticating witness to the witness of the gospel.

Standard accounts of evangelical hermeneutics have it that evangelical theorists refused any but written verities, which amounts to Biblical verities. If it’s not written in the Bible, it’s not authentic. Sixteenth-century evangelical writers themselves repeat this with great frequency. For more subtle theorists, however, this is not quite the full position. More subtle theorists understand, that is, that no text can authenticate itself, since texts need to be established as authentic in the first place. The late medieval Catholic theorist has no difficulty with this: the Church guarantees the truth of Scripture.51)  Christians receive that truth through what Thomas More calls a ‘historical faith’, a faith grounded in the ongoing tradition of the Church and its councils.52)  In his dispute with More, Tyndale clearly recognises that the biblical text needs a prior, unwritten witness, and that witness is the individual reader’s affective response. What guarantees the authenticity of the text for Tyndale is, like More, faith. Whereas More’s is an historical faith, however, Tyndale’s is what he calls a ‘feeling faith’.

The metaphors for this faith are, revealingly, metaphors of bodily pain. A man might believe in the capture of a city by historical faith if he trusted in the messengers who had witnessed the battle, since historical faith ‘hangeth in the truth and honesty of the teller, or of the common fame and consent of many’.  ‘Feeling faith’ is more a matter of witness and experience,

As if a man were there present when it was wonne, and there were wounded and had there lost all that he had, and were taken prisoner there also. That man should so beleve that all the world could not turne him from hys faith.53)

The second example, revealingly, concerns burning. When a child’s mother tells him that the fire will burn a finger, the child believes with a ‘historical faith’:

Then, even likewise, if my mother had blown on her finger, and told me that the fire would burn me, I should have believed her with an historical faith … but as soon as I had put my finger in the fire, I should have believed, not by the reason of her, but with a feeling faith, so that she could not have persuaded me afterward to the contrary.54)

The ultimate guarantee of scripture, then, is a ‘feeling faith’, a bodily witness that Scripture is true. Prior to the literal sense of the text is an anterior text, written in the heart itself. ‘God’, says Tyndale of the elect’s possession of scripture, ‘shall write it in their hearts with his Holy Spirit’.55)  Just as we  believe, he says, that the fire is hot through experience, so too do the elect have the law of God written in their hearts.

My argument here goes one step further than Tyndale. I suggest that, for the evangelical reader, the surest way of manifesting that interior textual witness is to suffer for it physically. Betrayed by false human witnesses, the evangelical reader must become him or herself the truest textual witness, which means becoming the martyr. The literal text of the psalms provides only evidence of unrelieved pain for Surrey. The only way he can guarantee his faith that the psalms offer some future consolation is to advertise his preparedness to suffer physically for them. The paranoid, isolated voice of the psalms, taken literally, only replicates Surrey’s own condition. They are a mirror reflecting only pain, as ‘when my glasse presented unto me / The cureless wound that bledeth day and night’ (37.12-13). Within the evangelical hermeneutic Surrey has adopted, the only way of imagining consolation from these texts is to embrace yet further, bodily, pain. Only a feeling faith, against all evidence to the contrary, can manifest true witness, through martyrdom.


(Harvard University)






Works Cited


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Ascham, Roger. The Schoolmaster. Roger Ascham: English Works. Ed. William Aldis Wright. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1904.

Barnett, Mary Jane. ‘From the Allegorical to the Literal (and Back Again).’ Day et al. eds. 63-73

Brigden, Susan. ‘Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and the “Conjured League.”’ The Historical Journal 37 (1994): 507-37

Certayne chapters of the proverbes of Salomon drawen into metre by Thomas Sternhold. London, 1550. RSTC 2760.

Cummings, Brian. ‘Iconoclasm and Bibliophobia in the English Reformations, 1521-1558.’ Images, Idolatry and Iconoclasm in Late Medieval England. Ed. Jeremy Dimmick, James Simpson, and Nicolette Zeeman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. 185-206.

Day, John T., Eric Lund, and Anne M. O’Donnel, eds. Word, Church and State: Tyndale Quincentenary Essays. Vol. l. Washington: Catholic University Press of America, 1998.

Duerden, Richard Y. ‘Justice and Justification: King and God in Tyndale’s The Obedience of a Christian Man.William Tyndale and the Law. Ed. John A. R. Dick and Anne Richardson. Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies 25. Kirksville, MS: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1994.

The Examinations of Anne Askew. Ed. Elaine V. Beilin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

The First Tome or Volume of the Paraphrase of Erasmus upon the New Testament. Trans. Nicholas Udall et al. London, 1548. RSTC 2854.

Foxe, John. The Acts and Monuments of the Christian Martyrs. Ed. Josiah Pratt. 4th ed. 8 vols. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1877.

Gregory, Brad S. Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Heale, Elizabeth. Wyatt, Surrey, and Early Tudor Poetry. Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1998.

Henry VII: Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VII. Calendared by J. S. Brewer et al. 21 vols in 33. Longman, Green, and Roberts, 1862-1910.

Howard, Henry. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey: Poems. Ed. Emrys Jones. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964.

_______. The Poems of Henry Howard Earl of Surrey. Ed. Frederick Morgan Padelford. Rev. ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1928.

Huttar, C. A. ‘Poems by Surrey and Others in a Printed Miscellany, c. 1550.’ Miscellany 16 (1965): 9-18

King, John N. English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.

The Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt. Ed. Kenneth Muir. Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 1963.

Mason, H. A. Humanism and Poetry in the Early Tudor Period. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1959.

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More, Thomas. A Dialogue Concerning Heresies. Ed. T. M. C. Lawler, Germain Marc’hadour, and Richard Marius. The Complete Works of St Thomas More. Vol. 6 of 14 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.

A paraphrasis vpon all the Psalmes of Dauid, made by Ioannes Campensis. London, 1539. RSTC 2372.6.

Parker, Douglas H. ‘Tyndale’s Biblical Hermeneutics.’ Day et al. eds. 87-101.

Parker, Matthew. The Whole Psalter translated into English Metre. London, 1567. RSTC 2729.

Psalmorum omnium: iuxta Henraicam veritatem paraphrastica interpretatio authore Ioanne Campensi. London, 1534. RSTC 2354.

Sessions, W. A. Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Simpson, James. Reform and Cultural Revolution, 1350-1547. Oxford English Literary History 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

St German, Christopher. An Answer to a Letter. London, 1535. RSTC 21558.5.

Statutes of the Realm. Ed. T. E. Tomlins, et al. 11 vols. Dawsons, 1810-1828. 1963.

Tavard, George H. Holy Writ or Holy Church? London: Burns and Ostes, 1959.

Thomas Becon, David’s Harp. The Early Works. Ed. John Ayre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1843.

Tudor Royal Proclamations. Ed. P. L. Hughes and J. F. Larkin. 3 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964.

Tudor-Craig, Pamela. ‘Henry VIII and King David.’ Early Tudor England: Proceedings of the 1987 Harlaxton Symposium. Ed. Daniel Williams. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Brewer, 1989. 183-205. 

Tyndale, William. An Answer to Thomas More’s Dialogue, the Supper of Our Lord … and William Tracy’s Testament Expounded. Ed. Henry Walter Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1850.

_______. The Obedience of a Christian Man. Ed. David Daniell. London: Penguin, 2000.

_______. ‘The Preface ... that he made before ... Genesis.’ Tyndale’s Old Testament. Ed. David Daniell. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.

_______. Tyndale’s New Testament. Ed. David Daniell. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

Zim, Rivkah. English Metrical Psalms: Poetry as Praise and Prayer 1535-1601. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.






ABSTRACT


"Martyrdom in the Literal Sense: Surrey's Psalm Paraphrases"


James Simpson


This article focuses on the psalm paraphrases of Henry Howard written in prison before his execution in January 1547. These paraphrases bear a highly personal charge, but that derives precisely from their inability to speak for Surrey. The chosen psalms are the monologic expression of a paranoid voice: a voice alone, surrounded by enemies, and calling for succour from the single source of an entirely silent and transcendent power. This bleakness derives from the interpretative environment of these Biblical translations in the 1540s. Biblical interpretation has been nationalised and rests in the person of the king, now Surrey's enemy. Further, evangelical hermeneutics prohibit any but the literal sense. These psalms express paranoia and, by the 'lively faith' adopted by Surrey, refuse to do anything else but express paranoia, held as they are within the literal sense. The hermeneutic environment of these paraphrases serves merely to replicate and the paranoia of the psalms themselves. The evangelical martyr becomes the truest witness by becoming the textual witness itself, dying not merely for the Gospel, but dying in some profound sense as the Gospel. By becoming the textual witness (or 'martyr' in its literal meaning), the evangelical courtier becomes a martyr in the modern sense.


Key Words: Surrey, Martyrdom, Psalms, Hermeneutics, Literal Sense, Witness


1)* Earlier versions of this essay were read as papers at two venues: a conference on Martyrdom in Cambridge UK, under the auspices of CRASSH, whose then Director, Professor Ian Donaldson, I warmly thank; and the Sixth International Conference of the Medieval and Early Modern English Studies Association of Korea. I thank the Association for its kind invitation and for the warmth of its hospitality. In particular I thank Brother Anthony of Taizé and Professor Jongsook Lee for their penetrating comments on this and other papers.


2) For the charges against Surrey and his imprisonment and execution, see W. A. Sessions, Henry Howard, The Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) 358-87; and Peter R. Moore, ‘The Heraldic Charge Against the Earl of Surrey, 1546-47,’ English Historical Review 116 (2001): 557-83.


3) For arguments about dating each of these three psalm translations to this period, see (in addition to Sessions, Henry Howard) Rivkah Zim, English Metrical Psalms: Poetry as Praise and Prayer 1535-1601 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) 88-91.


4) C. A. Huttar, ‘Poems by Surrey and Others in a Printed Miscellany, c. 1550,’ Miscellany 16 (1965): 9-18, argues that two of the translations in Certayne chapters of the proverbes of Salomon drawen into metre by Thomas Sternholde (London, 1550; RSTC 2760) (Psalms Vulgate 30 and 50) were by Surrey (at 11-15).


5) Sessions, Henry Howard 354-57.


6) Citations from Surrey’s Biblical translations are taken from The Poems of Henry Howard Earl of Surrey, ed. Frederick Morgan Padelford, rev. ed., University of Washington Publications, Language and Literature 5 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1928). Texts will be numbered in the body of the text, by Biblical locus; number in Padelford edition, and line number. Padelford cites psalms by King James numbering; I have altered these to Vulgate numbers. I have made minor, unmarked emendations to Padelford’s texts in matters of accidentals. References to any non-biblical texts by Surrey will also be made in the body of the text, and also be drawn from the Padelford edition, by number in Padelford edition, and line number.  See also Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey: Poems, ed. Emrys Jones (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964).


7) Sessions, Henry Howard 146.


8) The Examinations of Anne Askew, ed. Elaine V. Beilin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) 150, lines 41-48; I have repunctuated the text. See Sessions, Henry Howard 353-57 for Askew’s borrowing from Surrey.


9) For Henry VIII’s appropriation of both the voices of Solomon and of David, see Pamela Tudor-Craig, ‘Henry VIII and King David,’ in Early Tudor England: Proceedings of the 1987 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. Daniel Williams (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Brewer, 1989) 183-205.


10) Respectively, Padelford 35 and 36. For the positions of influence occupied by Denny and Blage, see Susan Brigden, ‘Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and the “Conjured League,”’ The Historical Journal 37 (1994): 507-37 (at 533-34).


11) The same psalm was also translated, in equally vengeful spirit, by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, while in the Tower between 1553 and 1554. See The Arundel Harrington Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, ed. Ruth Hughey (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1960) no. 289, and pp. 433-35 for notes. Psalm 54, along with others, was also translated in the Tower by Sir Thomas Smith in 1549; see John N. King, English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982) 233-34


12) See also the comment in L&P Henry VII: Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VI, calendared by J. S. Brewer et al., 21 vols in 33 (Longman, Green, and Roberts, 1862-1910) 21.2.287, a letter dated 19 October 1546, from Surrey to Paget, in which Surrey says that the cloister and dorter of Christ Church Norwich is of no use ‘saving for a memory of the old superstition.’ That Surrey did adopt an evangelical spirituality has not by any means always been accepted. The decisive turning point was made by H. A. Mason, Humanism and Poetry in the Early Tudor Period (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1959) 240-47. For a subtle discussion of Surrey’s evangelical accents, suggesting that they could themselves be politically strategic, see Elizabeth Heale, Wyatt, Surrey, and Early Tudor Poetry (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1998) 175-76.


13) Moore, ‘The Heraldic Charge’ 559.


14) Moore, ‘The Heraldic Charge’ 562.


15) Brigden, ‘Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey’ 536.


16) Moore, ‘The Heraldic Charge’ 581.


17) Brigden, ‘Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey’ 536-37.


18) Certayne chapters of the proverbes of Salomon drawen into metre by Thomas Sternhold (London, 1550; RSTC 2760).


19) Brigden, ‘Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey’ 525.


20) The text is printed in The Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt, ed. Kenneth Muir (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 1963) Appendix C, 273-76. Further citations are made in the body of the text by page number (Muir does not give line numbers).


21) See note 8 above.


22) Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999) 136.


23) Matthew Parker, The Whole Psalter translated into English Metre (London, 1567; RSTC 2729) c1v.


24) Roger Ascham,. The Schoolmaster, in Roger Ascham, English Works, ed. William Aldis Wright (Cambridge University Press, 1904) 247. References to this text will be made in the body of the text by page number.


25) Respectively, Psalmorum omnium: iuxta Henraicam veritatem paraphrastica interpretatio authore Ioanne Campensi (London, 1534; RSTC 2354); and A paraphrasis vpon all the Psalmes of Dauid, made by Ioannes Campensis (London, 1539; RSTC 2372.6).


26) The First Tome or Volume of the Paraphrase of Erasmus upon the New Testament, trans. Nicholas Udall et al. (London, 1548; RSTC 2854). Reference to this text will be made in the body of the text by folio number.


27) E.g. The Arundel Harrington Manuscript 2: 106.


28) Compare, for example, Surrey, Psalm 54: ‘Myne old fere and dere frende, my guyde that trapped me; / Where I was wont to fetche the cure of all my care, / And in his bosome hyde my secreat zeale to God’ (Psalm 54; 54.23-25), with Campensis (1534 edition), paraphrase of Psalm 54.12: Non enim ex professo inimicus … affecit me; tolerabile esset illud; neque palam hostis erexit sese aduersum me, cuius vitare potuissem consortium. Sed tu homo quem prefeci rebus meis, qui veluti dux fuisti mihi, et arctissima familiaritate coniunctus. Mutuo enim et suauiter secreta nostra communicauimus, et in domo dei versati sumus concorditer.


29) The significant exception to the case I make here for Surrey’s closeness to Campensis is the translation of Psalm 54, where lines 32-48 find almost no echo in either Campensis or the Vulgate.


30) Statutes of the Realm (hereafter SR), ed. T. E. Tomlins et al., 11 vols. (Dawsons, 1810-1828; repr. 1963) 34 Henry 8, 3: 894.


31) SR 3: 896.


32) Christopher St German, An Answer to a Letter (London, 1535; RSTC 21558.5). For discussion of this text in its context, see John Guy, ‘Scripture as Authority: Problems of Interpretation in the 1530s,’ Reassessing the Henrician Era: Humanism, Politics and Reform 1500-1550, ed. Alistair Fox and John Guy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986) 199-220.


33) St German, An Answer to a Letter Chapter 7.


34) St German, An Answer to a Letter Chapter 7.


35) Thomas Becon, David’s Harp, The Early Works, ed. John Ayre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1843) 264-303.


36) Becon, David’s Harp 288.


37) Tudor Royal Proclamations, ed. P. L. Hughes and J. F. Larkin, 3 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964) 1: 373-76.


38) William Tyndale, ‘The Preface ... that he made before ... Genesis,’ Tyndale’s Old Testament, ed. David Daniell (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992) 8.


39) Tyndale, ‘The Preface’ 8.


40) Tyndale, ‘The Preface’ 399. For the sometimes tortured impossibility of avoiding allegory by Tyndale, see Mary Jane Barnett, ‘From the Allegorical to the Literal (and Back Again),’ and Douglas H. Parker, ‘Tyndale’s Biblical Hermeneutics,’ both in Word, Church and State: Tyndale Quincentenary Essays, ed. John T. Day, Eric Lund, and Anne M. O’Donnell (Washington: Catholic University Press of America, 1998), respectively 63-73, and 87-101.


41) Tyndale, ‘The Preface’ 400.


42) William Tyndale, The Obedience of a Christian Man, ed. David Daniell (London: Penguin, 2000) 156-180 for Tyndale’s account of literalist hermeneutics. For the absolutism of the Obedience of a Christian Man, see Richard Y. Duerden, ‘Justice and Justification: King and God in Tyndale’s The Obedience of a Christian Man,William Tyndale and the Law, ed. John A. R. Dick and Anne Richardson, Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies 25 (Kirksville, Miss: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1994) 69-80.


43) Apart from the discussion of hermeneutics in the Obedience to which I have already alluded, see Tyndale’s New Testament, ed. David Daniell (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989) 1-12 for Tyndale’s hermeneutics. For the importance of covenants, see 4.


44) Becon, David’s Harp 288.


45) Philippians 1.


46) Becon, David’s Harp 275.


47) Becon David’s Harp 290.


48) Becon, David’s Harp 274.


49) John Foxe, The Acts and Monuments of the Christian Martyrs, ed. Josiah Pratt, 4th ed., 8 vols. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1877) 5: 131.


50) For examples, see Foxe, The Acts and Monuments 5: 655, and Brian Cummings, ‘Iconoclasm and Bibliophobia in the English Reformations, 1521-1558,’ Images, Idolatry and Iconoclasm in Late Medieval England, ed. Jeremy Dimmick, James Simpson, and Nicolette Zeeman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) 185-206 (at 203).


51) Though this, it should be said, is a specifically late medieval view. For the history of the relation between Scripture and the Church, see George H. Tavard, Holy Writ or Holy Church? (London: Burns and Ostes, 1959).


52) For the basic shape of More’s confrontation with Tyndale over the respective authority of Church and Scripture, see James Simpson, Reform and Cultural Revolutio, 1350-1547, Oxford English Literary History 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) Chapter 9. More’s position is expressed in many of his polemical works. See, for example, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies, ed. T. M. C. Lawler, Germain Marc’hadour, and Richard Marius, The Complete Works of St Thomas More, vol. 6 of 14 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981) Book 1.


53) William Tyndale, An Answer to Thomas More’s Dialogue, the Supper of Our Lord … and William Tracy’s Testament Expounded, ed. Henry Walter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1850) 51.


54) Tyndale, An Answer to Thomas More’s Dialogue 51.


55) Tyndale, An Answer to Thomas More’s Dialogue 51.