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12 - The Bible and John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Calum Carmichael
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
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Summary

Milton’s command of the Bible in the original languages (Hebrew, Greek, etc.) as well as in English created the resonance of Paradise Lost, notably in such passages as the catalogue of the devils in Book One and the summary of the entire Bible in Books Eleven and Twelve. Milton focused, however, on the myth of Eve and Adam to seize upon the Bible as a whole and to emphasize that universal humanity is his subject. But Milton is free and original in how he uses the Bible, scaling up small things to giant proportions, as with Sin and Death, and downplaying or ignoring traditional Christian themes, such as the personal nature of our relation to God. Milton reads the Bible as a Christian humanist: for political ends in this world. The “paradise within” prophesied by the angel Michael at the end of Paradise Lost is the political ideal for “mankind” as a whole, for humanity, at the end of Paradise Regained.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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References

Further Reading

Alter, Robert, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 2nd ed. (New York, 2011).Google Scholar
Armstrong, Karen, The Bible: A Biography (New York, 2007).Google Scholar
Bloom, Harold, The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible (New Haven, CT, 2011).Google Scholar
Carmichael, Calum M., The Story of Creation: Its Origin and Its Interpretation in Philo and the Fourth Gospel (Ithaca, NY, 1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ehrman, Bart D., How Jesus Became God (New York, 2014).Google Scholar
Frye, Northrop, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (Toronto, 2007).Google Scholar
King, Karen, The Secret Revelation of John (Cambridge, MA, 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levenson, Jon D., Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Princeton, NJ, 2012).Google Scholar
Lewis, C. S., Reflections on the Psalms (London, 1961).Google Scholar
Nasrallah, Laura S., An Ecstasy of Folly: Prophecy and Authority in Early Christianity (Cambridge, MA, 2003).Google Scholar
Pagels, Elaine, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (New York, 1998).Google Scholar
Römer, Thomas, The Invention of God, trans. Raymond Geuss (Cambridge, MA, 2015).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schweitzer, Albert, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede (Baltimore, 1998).Google Scholar
Stark, Rodney, The Rise of Christianity (San Francisco, 1997).Google Scholar
The English Bible, King James Version, Volume 1: The Old Testament, ed. Marks, Herbert (New York, 2012).Google Scholar
The English Bible, King James Version, Volume 2: The New Testament and the Apocrypha, ed. Hammond, Gerald and Busch, Austin (New York, 2012).Google Scholar

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