Doctor Faustus Philosophical Viewpoints: Predestination Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)
Jerome's Bible, Faustus; view it well.
[Reads] "Stipendium peccati mors est." Ha!
Stipendium, etc. The reward of sin is death. That's hard.
[Reads.] 'Si peccasse negamus, fallimur,
Et nulla est in nobis veritas.'
If we say that we have no sin,
We deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. (1.1.36-42)
Here, Faustus reads lines from the Bible, specifically Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death," and 1 John 1:8. But Faustus isn't exactly being a thorough reader here. Romans 6:23 goes on to say, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," while 1 John 1:8 reads, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Considering the fact that Faustus is such a renowned scholar, it's hard to believe that he doesn't know the rest of these lines. Maybe he's just already made his choice, so he's reading the Bible in a way that validates it. It's clever, sure, but it doesn't exactly help him in the end.
Why, then, belike we must sin
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this? Che serà, serà?
What will be, shall be? Divinity, adieu! (1.1.42-46)
The way Faustus sees it, the Bible tells him that he is damned to hell no matter what he does (never mind the fact that he didn't read the whole thing). In a weird way, it makes sense then, that he rejects the study of theology. After all, wouldn't it be worthless if, no matter how much you study it, it doesn't buy you a ticket to heaven. And to be fair, however incomplete it is, Faustus's interpretation of these Bible verses comes close to the Calvinist doctrine of Predestination—that a man's fate as saved or damned is set in stone long before he's even born. The only difference is that here, Faustus doesn't think anyone can be saved.
Were he a stranger, not allied to me,
The danger of his soul would make me mourn.
But, come, let us go and inform the Rector.
It may be his grave counsel may reclaim him.
I fear me nothing will reclaim him now. (1.3.32-36)
The Scholars pretty much sum up the question that drives the rest of Doctor Faustus: can Faustus still be saved, or is his fate sealed the minute he decides to ditch theology in favor of magic? Second Scholar is an optimist, but First Scholar takes the exact same point of view that will later be voiced by the devils: Faustus's salvation ship has sailed.