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Whelan R.
Eighteenth-Century Ireland
Reading the Bible in early eighteenth-century Dublin. The Huguenot pastor Henri de Rocheblave (1665-1709)
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This essay studies a posthumous collection of sermons preached by Henri de Rocheblave (1665-1709), at least some of which were delivered in the Lady Chapel of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, as a way to begin recovering the history of reading in the Irish Huguenot Refuge. Knowing how pastors sought to mould people's relationship to their Bibles is an essential part, albeit only a part, of any history of reading. Although Rocheblave seeks to engage those who heard him preach in a potentially liberating interaction with the Bible, he also attempts to contain that interaction by framing it ideologically, pinning it to an explicitly Protestant identity. To preach in this way in Dublin in the early eighteenth century marks the complicity of Huguenot pastors, and possibly their congregants, in a culture of political exclusion of the much more numerous Irish Catholics. The essay also reveals some of the ways the Bible could be used to foster ongoing resistance to the military power of France and unite Protestants of diverse geographical origins under a shared political identity in Ireland.
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