‘The evidence of things not seen’

Katrin Ettenhuber

in Donne's Augustine

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609109
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729553 | DOI:
‘The evidence of things not seen’

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This chapter concentrates on the dominant aspect of Donne's Augustinian thought in the final years of his ministry: eschatology, and more specifically the identification of eternal bliss with the beatific vision. Donne's reflections on the sight of God mark the end point of his engagement with Augustinian hermeneutics: in the beatific vision, reading, communication, and interpretation are superseded by a completely new mode of cognition—the intuitive, unmediated apprehension of divine reality. The chapter traces Donne's treatment of this cognitive state in his poems and letters, and then focuses in detail on two sermons preached in 1627 and 1628, respectively. In these preaching performances, Donne's citational strategy mimics the eschatological ideas he wishes to convey: a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:12 assembles a panorama of Augustinian references to simulate omniscience, while a sermon on Matthew 5:8 imagines the depth and precision of heavenly knowledge by homing in on a single Augustinian text.

Keywords: Eschatology; beatific vision; materialism; Platonism; sermons; rhetoric

Chapter.  10992 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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