The Biblical concept of holiness in Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Book I



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Holiness, as a concept in The Faerie Queene, Book I, previously has been primarily defined as a philosophical concept in terms of Aristotle's "virtues." It has been compared with Wisdom, and with Magnificence and Magnanimity. Holiness is not a philosophical concept. It has its origins, for Spenser, in the Bible, and is a Christian theological concept. Holiness, as described by Spenser in The Faerie Queene, Book I, is basically Biblical as presented in terms of the theological structure of John Calvin, mainly in his Institutes. Holiness, as such, is conceived as a condition of being, made possible by the inner work of God's Grace in man. It is not obtained through man's exertions as is a "virtue." Holiness is unlike Wisdom, Justice, Chastity, and Temperance, in that it must be applied from outside the man, and from outside the act. [...]