A quite different kind of
influence may be noted in the case of
Romans 7.15-20, a series of verses
marked incidentally in the de Vere
Bible by the annotator's insertion of
the first person pronoun "I,"
mistakenly omitted from the text of
Romans 7.20 in STC 2106. By
coincidence, it happens that of all the
Shakespearean touchstones for the concept of sin, by far the most prominent (cf Shakespeare
Diagnostics list in appendix B) appears to be Romans 7.15-20, the latter verse of which is marked
here by editorial correction in de Vere's STC 2106¹ (figure fifty-four). Skeptics may, if they like,
expend the effort to deny that this verse is actually "marked" by the annotator, but this seems like
trying to kill an elephant with a pin. Such efforts might be justified in light of the implications of
conceding that the elephant is alive, large, and dangerous --
but they seem unlikely to be
effective. Numerous occurrences of Shakespearean reference to this series of verses have been
documented by students of the source question ever since Carter first drew attention to its
importance in 1905. In a brief article recently published in Notes and Queries the present writer
listed four established references to these verses and pointed out a fifth in the case of Sonnet 151,
which is described as "an elaborate paraphrase" of Romans 7.20 (Stritmatter 1997). A more
complete listing, given in the SD list attached to this dissertation, finds a total of ten established
prior references to the idea and adds two more -- Sonnet 151 and Twelfth Night 2.2.31.
Perhaps the most striking instance of the influence of Romans 7.15-20 in the plays is
Hamlet's apologia to Laertes:
Give me your pardon, sir, I have done you
Was't Hamlet wrong'd Laertes? Never Hamlet!
If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away,
And when he's not himself does wrong Laertes,
Then Hamlet does it not, Hamlet denies it.
Who does it then? His madness. If't be so,
Hamlet is of the faction which is wronged.
His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy.
Omitted, Kathman Bible data transcript.
Figure Fifty-four: Romans 7.19-21, with marginal note (n) in the de
Vere STC 2106.