Milton's Messiah: The Son of God in the Works of John Milton

Milton's Messiah: The Son of God in the Works of John Milton

by Russell M. Hillier


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Milton's Messiah provides the first comprehensive book-length analysis of the nature and significance of the Son of God in Milton's poetry and theology. The book engages with Biblical and Patristic theology, Reformation and post-Reformation thought, and the original Latin of the treatise De Doctrina Christiana, to argue for a radical reassessment of Milton's doctrine of the atonement and its importance for understanding Milton's poetics. In the footsteps of Dennis Danielson's Milton's Good God, this study responds to William Empson's celebrated portrayal of Milton's God as a deity invoking dread and awe, and instead locates the ultimately affirming presence of mercy, grace, and charity in Milton's epic vision. Challenging the attribution of an Arian or Socinian model to Milton's conception of the Son, this interdisciplinary interpretation marshals theological, philological, philosophical, and literary-critical methods to establish, for the first time, not only the centrality of the Son and his salvific office for Milton's oeuvre, but also the variety of ways in which the Son's restorative influence is mediated through the scenes, characters, actions, and utterances of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regain'd. From the allegorical sites Satan encounters as he voyages through the cosmos, to Eve's first taste of the Forbidden Fruit, to the incarnate Son's perilous situation poised atop the Temple pinnacle, Hillier illustrates how a redemptive poetics upholds Milton's proclaimed purpose to assert eternal providence and justify God's ways. This original study should court debate and controversy alike over Milton's priorities as a poet and a religious thinker.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199591886
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 05/02/2011
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Russell M. Hillier was born in the West Country of England. He took his BA and MA degrees in Classics and English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, and in 2008 he completed his Ph.D at Selwyn College, Cambridge University. He has published numerous articles in journals that include Milton Quarterly, Milton Studies, Studies in English Literature, and Studies in Philology, on writers as diverse as John Milton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Cormac McCarthy. He is currently Assistant Professor of English at Providence College, Rhode Island.

Table of Contents

Notes on Texts and Abbreviations
1. The Nature of Milton's Son and His Justification of Men's Ways to God: Things Indifferent?
2. Milton's Great Argument
3. "Matter new to gaze": Satan's Blindness and the Manifestation of Milton's Sacramental Universe
4. "On other surety none": Raphael's Temporal and Spatial Passion Allegories
5. 5. The Good Communicated: Milton's Drama of the Fall 213-246 and the Law of Charity
6. Surprised by Sin, Assured by Grace: Milton's Redeeming Irony
7. Paradise Found: Milton's Messiah and the Argument of Weakness in Paradise Regain'd

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