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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

John Milton's five tracts against the idea of bishops in the Church of England argue one essential point: that there is no justification for the position of bishop (as opposed to minister) in the blueprint for Christian churches to be found in the New Testament, and in the Pauline epistles in particular. Milton's views on church government in these early 1640s tracts are grounded in a profound belief in Scripture reading for all and a return to Scripture for church precepts. The anti-episcopal tracts are exercises in discursive zeal: in righteous anger raised against the prelates. The argument of Of Reformation seeks to purify the body of Christ and his Church. Furthermore, the issue of Milton's political allegiances in these tracts is described. The anti-episcopal tracts were an opportunity for the younger poet, in his thirty-third year, to engage in public controversy.

Keywords: John Milton, anti-episcopal tracts, Republican Puritanism, poetry, Church of England, Scripture, Of Reformation

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