An Unknown Exegete: Uncovering the Biblical Scholarship of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Anthony Elia


The present essay provides a survey of a previously unexplored, formative period in the life of the famed Victorian English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (EBB).  Her personal Bibles (Hebrew, LXX, and Greek New Testament), held in the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary/Columbia University, have been discovered to contain Barrett’s own extensive handwritten notes. These notes demonstrate that EBB read extensively among the biblical exegetes and scholars of the day, many of whom influenced her reading of the text.  This essay considers the life circumstances in which she devoted herself to these studies, an overview of her marginalia in these volumes, and some suggestions on how Browning’s biblical studies may have influenced her later poetic works.


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