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Allegories of EncounterColonial Literacy and Indian Captivities$
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Andrew Newman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643458

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643458.001.0001

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Psalm 137 as a Site of Encounter

Psalm 137 as a Site of Encounter

(p.50) Chapter Two Psalm 137 as a Site of Encounter
Allegories of Encounter

Andrew Newman

University of North Carolina Press

References to the famous 137th Psalm (“by the rivers of Babylon”) by colonial captives such as Mary Rowlandson, Isaac Jogues, John Williams, and Elizabeth Hanson are different from those of other Christian writers. Elements of the psalm were recapitulated in the ethnohistorical context of Indian captivity. These include the riverine landscape and pagan captors (verse 1), the compulsion to sing “songs of Zion” (verse 3), and infanticidal violence (verses 8-9). The question posed by verse 4 – “How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?” – may have been as relevant to the Christian Indians who were confined and persecuted by settlers during King Philip’s War as for any other Christian community.

Keywords:   captivity, Christian Indians, ethnohistory, infanticide, Isaac Jogues, Psalm 137, Mary Rowlandson, John Williams

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