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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Even by the standards of seventeenth-century biblical literacy, John Donne’s ability to trace a single image across multiple books of the Bible is striking, and symptomatic of the type of ornate and learned preaching Donne was perfecting in elite pulpits such as the Inns of Court. Donne rarely, however, seems concerned to establish which of the available translations is most accurate; many of his quotations appear to come from memory rather than any individual Bible. This chapter considers the relationship between Donne’s biblical scholarship and the rhetorical and didactic demands of the sermon. Rather than straining after the ‘original text’ Donne frequently does the reverse, gaining his biblical knowledge through commentaries and glosses. Yet the evidence of Donne’s persistently most favoured Bible translation, the heavily glossed Vulgate, requires us to re-evaluate the distinction between ‘original’ and ‘secondary’ sources and the use of commentaries and glosses as an essential intra-biblical resource.

Keywords: John Donne, sermons, biblical scholarship, translation, reception, Vulgate

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