Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

From patristic times until the seventeenth century, more than a hundred mostly forgotten biblical poems in several languages made some claim to epic status. Milton’s Paradise Lost has not only endured but has become a classic of western literature. This chapter asks why, especially since this poem emerged in a Protestant culture marked by great anxiety about altering or adding to the biblical text. Milton’s project succeeded in part because he treated the biblical text with freedom, inventing scenes with no biblical basis and departing readily from orthodox understandings of texts and doctrines. Milton drew readily on the scriptures in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and the Geneva and KJB English translations, but gave priority to the indwelling illumination of the Spirit of God over the literal biblical text. Lewalski examines how this is manifested in his epic.

Keywords: John Milton, biblical epic, Paradise Lost, Protestant poetics, indwelling spirit

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.