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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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‘The evidence of things not seen’

‘The evidence of things not seen’

Donne, Augustine, and the Beatific Vision

(p.205) 7 ‘The evidence of things not seen’
Donne's Augustine

Katrin Ettenhuber

Oxford University Press

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of his engagement with Augustinian hermeneutics: in the beatific vision, reading, communication, and interpretation are superseded by a completely new mode of cognition—the intuitive, unmediated apprehension of divine reality.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

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