The Bible

Rossetti's Tractarian approach

As a Christian, Rossetti believed that:

  • The Bible was written by humans at the direct inspiration of God
  • It formed the basis upon which humans can reach an understanding of who they really are, based on their faith in – and spiritual relationship with – Jesus Christ, referred to in the Bible as the Son of God
  • On the basis of this faith, individuals can receive assurance of their place in the Kingdom of Heaven, both now and in their eternal life to come (following physical death)

In the light of these beliefs, Rossetti's poetry and prose writings also demonstrate her attitude that:

  • The best way to understand the Bible is to approach it as a ‘live' text designed to help an individual grow as a Christian
  • Rather than reading scripture as an intellectual exercise, she claimed that it can only be properly interpreted by asking God's Holy Spirit to guide the reader and bring out the Bible's relevance to his or her life.


The King James' Bible

Like most believers since the start of the seventeenth century, Rossetti most often refers to the 1611 King James Version of the Bible (also known as the Authorised Version). Until the publication of the 1885 Revised Version, the King James Version was the only translation which was generally available to Victorian readers. It is the origin of many common phrases and sayings in the English language. See Common sayings from the Bible and Literary titles from the Bible.

The Revised Version

In the late nineteenth century, a group of scholars revised the language of the King James Bible to make it more accessible to a wider audience. In 1881, they published a Revised Version of the New Testament and in 1885 they published an updated version of the Old Testament. Rossetti refers to the Revised Version of the Bible in her last book of devotional prose, The Face of the Deep: A Devotional Commentary on the Apocalypse, which she published in 1892.

The Psalter

Throughout her poetry and prose, Rossetti also refers to the Prayer Book version of the Psalms, often called the Psalter. Like many of her readers, she would have been used to chanting the Psalms from the Prayer Book in Church. The Prayer Book orders the Psalms in a calendar so that they could all be read by the devoted high church Christian every year.

Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.