Theologies of Language in English Renaissance Literature: Reading Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton James S. Baumlin

ISBN: 9781282134003

Published: December 14th 2012

ebook

314 pages


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Theologies of Language in English Renaissance Literature: Reading Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton  by  James S. Baumlin

Theologies of Language in English Renaissance Literature: Reading Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton by James S. Baumlin
December 14th 2012 | ebook | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, RTF | 314 pages | ISBN: 9781282134003 | 5.65 Mb

James S. Baumlins Theologies of Language in English Renaissance Literature offers a revisionist history of discourse, taking Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton as its touchstones. Their works mark stages in die Entzauberung or disenchantment, as MaxMoreJames S. Baumlins Theologies of Language in English Renaissance Literature offers a revisionist history of discourse, taking Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton as its touchstones. Their works mark stages in die Entzauberung or disenchantment, as Max Weber has termed it: that is, in the elimination of magic from the world.

Shakespeares Hamlet questions the word-magic associated with medieval Catholicism- Donnes love lyrics ironize the sacramental gestures of their poetic-priestly speakers- more radical still, Miltons major poems and polemical prose empty language of sacral power, repudiating human persuasion entirely over matters of saving faith. Baumlin describes four archetypes of historical rhetoric: sophism, skepticism, incarnationism, and transcendence.

Undergirding the ages competing theologies, each makes unique assumptions regarding the powers of language (both communicative and performative)- the nature of being (including transcendent being or deity)- the structure of the psyche (whether sin-weakened or self-sufficient)- and the capacities of human knowing (whether certain knowledge is communicable--or even possible).

Working within divergent theologies of language, the poets here studied take theological controversies as explicit themes. The crisis of Hamlet begins not in a kings murder simply, but in his dying without benefit of the sacraments. As if compensating for their loss, young Hamlet minister[s] to Gertrude while acting as scourge to Claudius. Alternating between soul-cursing and soul-curing, Hamlet plays sorcerer and priest indiscriminately.Appropriating the speech-acts of Catholic sacramentalism, Donnes lyrics describe a private religion of Love, over which the poet-lover presides as officiant.

Or rather, some lyrics present him as Loves Priest, there being as many personae as there are theologies of language. Beyond Loves Priest, Baumlin describes three such personae: Loves Apostate, Loves Atheist, and Loves Reformer. Focusing on Lycidas and De Doctrina Christiana, Baumlin outlines Miltons plerophoristic rhetoric of certitude. Such texts as these explore the problematic status of preaching. (Can human eloquence contribute to salvation?) They explore competing definitions (Aristotelian vs. Pauline) of pistis--meaning alternatively (religious) faith and (rhetorical) persuasion.

And they invoke conflicting typologies (classical vs. Hebraic) of authorial ethos. Baumlins study ends with a glance at the Restoration and Royal Society



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