Reading Euripides

My son has been reading Euripides’ Antigone (442 bc) for an English class and he asked me to read the play so as to be able to help him think through some of the material. I must confess that I had never read Euripides before. It is a very powerful play, dealing with the central theme of the clash of personal conviction/conscience and state law. What struck me at the time of reading it and afterwards is that there are a number of things here that help illuminate New Testament teaching. Humanity’s ability to master the animal world, noted by James in James 3:1-5, is paralleled by lines 381-395. The fact that the guards around Polyneices’ corpse will suffer if they allow anyone to creep up and bury the body illuminates what is happening in Acts 12:19 regarding the guards killed by Herod.

And the overall themes of honour and shame (in this case, the disgrace of being bested by a woman), hybris, andthe importance of not violating one’s conscience, these are great perennial themes dealt with by holy Scripture and need to inform any student of God’s Word.