Skip to main content

Biblical revelation


This short article was written in 2013, one of our first. A response to Roger Stritmatter's idea that the marks in the Folger Library's Geneva Bible were made by the canon author, this turned out to be our most commented article that year and still tops the popularity chart. Repeated claims based on the Stritmatter's thesis caused us to have a much closer look at the mechanics of coincidence. This exposed a lack of validity in any of the claims Stritmatter makes in his thesis. The articles are here.

Oxford did not reveal his hand by unwittingly marking, in his own copy of the Geneva bible, all the passages he cited in the plays. 

In a classic piece of Oxfordian 'scholarship', Dr R Strittmatter tries to link references to the Bible in the plays to the annotations and marginalia in a copy of the Geneva Bible which has a very good claim to have been Oxford's.  Since it passed out of Oxford's family and down through dozens of pairs of hands in the 300 years before it came into the possession of the Folger library, there is no telling who made the marks. 

Graphology can't supply the answer (especially Strittmatter's own amateur graphology). There isn't enough data. There are nowhere near enough complete words on which to base a graphological judgement, so attributing all of them to a single author is specious. The only thing you can tell from the writing cramped into the margins is that it was NOT done by one hand.

If were true that all of the marks Strittmatter claims were made by Oxford and all had some direct relevance to the plays, then the number would still be significantly below the threshold of coincidence. Naturally Strittmatter indulges in statistical jiggery-pokery to try and prove the opposite but the number of solid connections he can make is very small. Yet though he introduces some complex statistical theory, simple arithmetic is all that is required to wipe out his entire argument.

Shakespeare alluded to at least 2000 Bible verses in his works. Roughly 80 of the marked verses have parallels to Shakespeare which are noted by the leading Bible-Shakespeare scholars, Shaheen and Richmond Noble. There are another 120-plus which Roger Stritmatter claims are parallels which previous commentators have overlooked; I have only seen a few of these and find them unimpressive, but for the sake of argument let's accept them. This means that even giving Stritmatter the benefit of the doubt, only about 10 percent of Shakespeare's Biblical allusions are marked in the Bible, and only about 20 percent of the verses marked in the Bible are alluded to in Shakespeare. That doesn't seem like anything more than a random overlap to me, and this impression is confirmed by the fact that you can find a similar overlap with other contemporary authors. 

As Kathman points out, however you add Strittmatter's numbers up, his sample is minute when compared the 4,000 parallels drawn by Baconians between Bacon's handwritten Primus and the the canon.

His analysis of the Geneva Bible is a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

It is a light which only illuminates itself.

Share this post

Disqus comments