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Dr Esther van Raamsdonk, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Politics of Biblical Narrative in a Seventeenth-Century Anglo-Dutch Context

Dr Esther van Raamsdonk's Fellowship is the first extended comparative study of the two key bible translations of the 17th century – the King James and the Statenvertaling – that connects the editions’ editorial and theological decisions with contemporary re-tellings of biblical narratives. The project identifies political resonances in biblical narratives and their presentations using a transnational approach.

Dr van Raamsdonk moves beyond the traditional single-nation literary models and direct textual influence. Similarly, the method advances notions of broader ‘interculturality’, wherein shared traditions and interests manifest themselves in revealingly modified literary production. The enquiry moves in two directions:

  1. How do politics manifest themselves (directly and indirectly) in productions of biblical narratives?
  2. What are the political concerns or aims to which these narratives speak?

Using the interwoven cultural sphere between the United Provinces and England, Dr van Raamsdonk argues that a transnational understanding of each country’s literature - in its original language – is essential for capturing its political shading.


The power of a transnational approach is that it simultaneously reveals the importance of seeing these translations and re-tellings within their wider cultural context, and allows the kinds of parallel readings – within and between the two nations’ languages – that would be impossible within a single-nation model.

This view is singularly productive for understanding the writing of the period, as well as for emphasising to scholarship the complex and deep interconnections of the two example nations, linked by their Protestantism and proximity; yet rivals in trade and power.