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Exodus and LiberationDeliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr.$
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John Coffey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199334223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199334223.001.0001

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“The Only Parallel”

“The Only Parallel”

The Puritan Revolution as England’s Exodus

(p.24) (p.25) 1 “The Only Parallel”
Exodus and Liberation

John Coffey

Oxford University Press

Luther’s Reformation was legitimized as a new Exodus, a liberation from “popish slavery,” but it was Calvinists who identified most closely with Old Testament Israel. The British Reformations and the Dutch revolt were depicted as deliverances from “Egyptian bondage,” though the greatest mobilization of deliverance politics occurred during the English Revolution of the mid-seventeenth century. The Parliamentarians saw their revolt as England’s Exodus, but what ensued was a fierce contest for control of the biblical narrative. First used by mainstream Puritan preachers, it was turned against them by Independents and tolerationists. Oliver Cromwell was hailed as a new Moses, but Levellers, Diggers, Quakers, and republicans used Exodus for very different purposes. By 1660, the rhetoric of slavery and deliverance was deeply embedded within Anglophone political discourse.

Keywords:   Reformation, Calvinists, Puritans, English Revolution, Oliver Cromwell, John Milton

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