The Dogmatic and Mystical Theology of John Donne

By Itrat Husain | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II

JOHN DONNE THE THEOLOGIAN

No systematic and critical study of Donne's theology has so far been made except by Mrs. Simpson1 in an interesting essay on the general outline of his theological beliefs, and in spite of his great popularity in this country, his position in the history of the Anglican Church remains undefined.2 Though Henry Alford declared that after "obnoxious or trifling passages" have been struck out--he means the passages where Donne follows the Fathers--"there is left unimpaired a genuine body of orthodox divinty (in the best sense of the words) not to be found, perhaps, in any other English theologian,"3 and Dr. Jessopp had little doubt about Donne's orthodoxy as an Anglican divine once he had freed himself from "the thraldom of the Roman tyranny as formulated in the Tridentine decrees."4Donne is not recognized even to-day as one of the band of the seventeenth century divines, like Hooker and Bishop Andrewes, who tried to defend the Anglican Church and expounded its doctrines and ritual against the controversialists of other Churches.

Mr. T. S. Eliot has asserted that Donne had no settled belief in any philosophy. Speaking of his poetry, he declared:

" Donne was a learned student of philosophy. But his poetry is not that of a man who believes any philosophy. He enjoys his learning, and enjoys using a philosophical idea

____________________
1
A Study of the Prose Works of John Donne by E. M. Simpson; Oxford, 1924.

Sidney Dark Essay on Donne in Five Deans ( 1928) is very unsympathetic and uncritical and does not describe his theological views as the Dean at all.

2
In the recent admirable anthology of the religious literature of the seventeenth century by Paul Elmer More and Frank Leslie Cross entitled Anglicanism, only one passage of Donne on "Hell" (p. 336) and one poem, "The Cross" (p. 776), have been included.
3
The Works of John Donne, edited by Henry Alford, Vol. 1, p. xxi.
4
John Donne by Dr. A. Jessopp ( 1897), p. 136.

-23-

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The Dogmatic and Mystical Theology of John Donne
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter I John Donne and the Anglican Church 1
  • Chapter II 23
  • Chapter III John Donne and Revealed Theology 43
  • Chapter IV John Donne and the Doctrine of the "Fall" and Sin 77
  • Chapter V John Donne and Soteriology 94
  • Chapter VI 112
  • Chapter VII John Donne and Mystical Theology 120
  • Appendix to Chapter II 144
  • Bibliography 148
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