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John Donne: Poem analysis » The Extasie » Commentary on The Extasie » More on Incarnation

More on Incarnation: Literally, incarnation means putting flesh on something, or giving a body to it. The doctrine of the incarnation is a central Christian belief, teaching that God took on human form, or flesh, and became man in Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 3:16). Donne's thinking is based on this. He sees that all spiritual matter needs to have a physical form before it can benefit humans, as in Aire and Angels, in which Angels need to take the element of air in order to manifest themselves. In The Extasie, he suggests that ecstatic love, the union of souls, is the spiritual essence of true love, but needs the body to be incarnated in, to take visible and material form. This is what sex is for. In this, Donne is the exact opposite of Plato, the Greek philosopher much admired by many in the seventeenth century. Plato's idea was that you could build up from physical, or carnal love, to spiritual love. So sex begins the process. Donne reverses this.

  • King James Version
  • Today's New International Version
1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
1Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. 8In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. 14Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing to you with these instructions so that, 15if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: he appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
The teaching on the beliefs of a religion, usually taught by theologians or teachers appointed by their church.
Name originally given to disciples of Jesus by outsiders and gradually adopted by the Early Church.
The Bible describes God as the unique supreme being, creator and ruler of the universe.
The name given to the man believed by Christians to be the Son of God. Also given the title Christ, meaning 'anointed one' or Messiah. His life is recorded most fully in the Four Gospels.
Title (eventually used as name) given to Jesus, refering to an anointed person set apart for a special task such as a king.
Supernatural beings closely linked with the work of God; his messengers, traditionally portrayed as having a winged human form.
Plato was a Greek philosopher.