American poet, Emily Dickinson, is a great example of the transition from the wordy Romantic style of writing to literary transcendentalism. Dickinson’s elliptical style and compact phrases are heavily exemplified in her poem 1577(1545), “The Bible is an antique Volume.” This piece is full of satire as the speaker questions society’s blind obedience to Christianity and ultimately suggests the embracing of a new religion. The speaker gracefully degrades the Bible’s right as the solitary means to interpret humanity and proposes that the audience finds something new to believe. In the first line, the metaphor referring the Bible as merely “an antique volume” speaks volumes. Dictionary.com defines volume in this context as, “a collection of written or printed sheets bound together and constituting a book.” The speaker views the Bible as an “antique” anthological collection of stories that can be priced rather than the acronym –Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. In the second and third lines, the validity of the authors of the Bible is questioned. “Faded Men” and “at the suggestion of Holy Spectres” connotes the men where told what to write and didn’t experience that life themselves. These lines, and the entire poem, are mostly bereft of the elaborate syntax communal in Dickinson’s other poems. Those familiar with biblical persons understand the significance of Satan, Judas, and David and the impact of their roles in the Christian faith. As a Christian reader, the simplicity of the lines, “Satan—the Brigadier, Judas—the Great Defaulter, David—the Troubadour”, reduces the persons’ history. Although the descriptions denote some truth, there is more to them than that. Satan, the “prince of the air (Ephesians 2:2)”, is responsible for tempting Eve into eating the forbidden fruit hence leading to man’s “distinguished precipice.” David wasn’t just a psalmist, he was one of Israel’s greatest kings and he is part of Jesus’ lineage.
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