Donne and apostasy

Achsah Guibbory

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199218608
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Donne and apostasy

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‘Convert’ suggests that a person has turned away from a former belief, practice, or nature and has decided to embrace what he considers a true faith or belief. ‘Conversion’ suggests transformation. It is a Christian revision of the Hebrew notion of teshuvah, which in Deuteronomy and the Hebrew prophets signifies a change that is a ‘return’ to the former path, a turning away from idolatry to the path set by God. The term ‘apostasy’ characterizes a person who has abandoned the true religion, who, indeed, has rejected God. The term demonizes the person it is applied to. Donne grew up in a society like this. Pseudo-Martyr (1610) contains some of Donne's most explicit statements about his ‘religion’, but we must remember that these remarks were published, intended for a public audience, and part of a polemical tract. Shaped by contingencies and multiple motives, these statements cannot be read simply as transparent expressions of Donne's beliefs.

Keywords: Donne; apostasy; contingencies; transparent expressions; Hebrew; Deuteronomy

Article.  6746 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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