Genesis in King Lear
Shrine of the Bab and terraces illumined at night
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Lysaght, T. “Genesis in King Lear: Joseph’s Many-Colored Coat Suits Shakespeare”. The Journal of Bahá’í Studies, vol. 29, no. 3, Sept. 2019, pp. 83-96, doi:10.31581/jbs-29.3.5(2019).


“If we tire of the saints, Shakespeare is our city of refuge.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A luminary of fi ve religions, Joseph of Egypt looms larger than life. Bahá’u’lláh even likens Himself to “the Divine Joseph” (Gleanings 103:4). However, Joseph’s gradual unveiling as a minor prophet also renders him humanly relatable in ways a Manifestation of God can never be. In the West, Shakespeare and the Bible have each served as paths to knowledge, and their union a way to wisdom. That assertion proves especially true upon comparing Joseph’s odyssey of becoming with Edgar’s in King Lear. Both the prophet and the fictional character, each brother-betrayed, transform unjust adversity into psychological and spiritual growth. They each attain an exemplary sovereignty of self over and above their separate temporal kingships. A comparison of the two aff ords a deeper appreciation of Joseph’s prominent place in scripture, particularly in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.
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Copyright © 2019 Tom Lysaght