The Mappe and the Bible: Nation, Empire and the Collective Memory of Jonah

In: Biblical Interpretation


This article uses the work of the English cartographer John Speed as a way to explore the role of the collective memory of Jonah in social and political discourses during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The paper engages with debates concerning nationalism during the early modern period. Collective memory theory is also used to consider how Jonah became a reified site of memory. By placing Speed's writing alongside the works of his forebears and examining the function of the Jonah text within three sermons, the evolving collective memory of the biblical text, and its imagined attachment to national identity, is traced. It is suggested that Speed's cartographic selectivity in depicting biblical narratives can be seen in relation to the nascent nationalist and imperialist worldviews and ideologies of sixteenth and seventeenth century England.

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