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Donne's AugustineRenaissance Cultures of Interpretation$
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Katrin Ettenhuber

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609109.001.0001

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‘Ascending Humility’

‘Ascending Humility’

Augustinian Hermeneutics in the Essayes in Divinity

(p.105) 3 ‘Ascending Humility’
Donne's Augustine

Katrin Ettenhuber

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses in detail on Donne's most neglected text: the Essayes in Divinity (composed c.1614; published 1651) and marks the transition to the second part of the book: having presented a survey of Donne's reading in the first two chapters, the book now moves on to five detailed case studies. The Essayes are a series of Scripture meditations; through reading the first verses of Genesis and Exodus, Donne defines his sense of Christian identity and vocation. The main model of interpretation in the Essayes is Augustine's Confessions, a text which is constantly invoked for doctrinal and devotional guidance. The chapterer traces key Augustinian passages and charts their re-emergence both in the wider sphere of Renaissance devotional writing and in Donne's later career, in the Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624) and in his sermons. The Essayes serve as a self-conscious act of religious and interpretive initiation, which prepare for Donne's ordination in 1615.

Keywords:   Essayes in Divinity, Scripture commentary, Confessions, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, sermons, manuals of devotion, prosopopoeia

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