Help Determining the Level of Covenant-Awareness in 16th-Century Education

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Puritan Board Freshman
I am currently studying Christopher Marlowe's The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus, and I cannot help but feel that there are numerous elements of covenant theology within the play. I know that Marlowe studied divinity at Corpus Cristy College from 1580-1587. This means that the covenant concept would have had time to develop through men like Zwingli, Bullinger, Calvin, Musculus, Ursinus, and Olevianus before Marlowe ever produced the drama. My question is this: how much would a sixteenth-century, Protestant, English student of theology be aware of the covenant-concept (and its recent, Biblical-theological developments)?

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
This is from Corpus Christi's webpage.

Corpus was founded in 1517 by Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester and a trusted diplomatic and political adviser to King Henry VII. Bishop Fox had originally intended the College for the training of monks; if he had followed through with this plan, Corpus would probably have been dissolved in the Reformation of the next generation. Instead, he decided that it should be a place of Renaissance learning for the education of young men in the humanities and the sciences.

The beautiful main quad, with its tower, dining hall, library and adjoining chapel were planned and completed under Fox's guidance. Queen Catherine (of Aragon) was a friend of the College's first President, John Claimond, and would visit him in his College lodgings while her husband, Henry VIII, hunted at nearby Woodstock. Another early visitor was the great humanist scholar, Erasmus, who wrote admiringly of the College's library.

The College played a central role in the religious disputes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. One of its earliest Fellows, Reginald Pole, was Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Mary and narrowly missed becoming Pope. One of its early graduates was the renowned Protestant scholar Richard Hooker. The College's seventh President, John Rainolds, was a key organizer and translator of the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible.

Try finding out who else was at the college, teaching or studying, at the same time as Marlowe.


Staff member
If you look at a finished work of embroidery, you will see leaves, motifs, and letters in smooth stitches. What you won't see are the original outline stitches or the foundation stitches used to lift those final shapes into view. The reformers and Puritans (for that matter, the Patristics) would certainly have recognized those outline stitches, but you have to move forward in time until those forms are brought into full view by folks like Herman Bavinck, Geerhardus Vos, and in more recent years, Richard Gavin and Gregory Beale.
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