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Title: Milton's Messiah : the Son of God and soteriology in the works of John Milton
Author: Hillier, R. M.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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The thesis examines Milton’s theological and poetic treatment of the Sea of God and the work of salvation and challenges the prevailing opinion in Milton studies that Milton adheres to Arian, Socinian, or psilanthropic tenets. Chapter one argues that Milton’s Christology and soteriology cannot be reconciled with Arianism either as a historical or in a technical sense. Christology necessarily entails soteriology, and Milton’s understanding of the incarnate Son as theanthropos establishes the importance of Christ’s mediatorial and redeeming role. Milton’s powerful conception of the pernicious effects of human sin cannot support an exemplarist, subjective atonement, and instead depends upon a unique, objective atonement. Chapter two analyses Paradise Lost’s bipartite “great Argument” – the assertion of eternal providence and the justification of God’s ways – in fideistic rather than in purely rationalistic terms. The chapter re-evaluates the poem’s debt to Protestant and, in particular, Lutheran forensic discourse on the doctrine of justification. Chapter three offers a reading of Satan’s voyage across Books Three and Four of the epic and interprets the poem’s cosmos as operating according to a sacramental-allegorical poetic. The universe which Satan blindly traverses is an explicatio filii Dei and a copious manifestation of the Son’s theanthropic mediation. Chapter four presents a suggested cause for Milton’s representation of the Fall in Book Nine of Paradise Lost as Eve and Adam’s transgression of the law of charity, that is, the love of God, self and neighbour, which forms the basis for Milton’s understanding of natural law. In the final chapter, I demonstrate how, in addition to surprising Milton’s readers by sin, the affective stylistics of Fishian literary analysis can be applied to Milton’s treatment of the aftermath of the Fall to assure the poem’s readers of the provision of Grace. The thesis concludes by maintaining that Milton’s diffuse epic comprises a redemption song with a highly nuanced Christology and soteriology that is indissociable from a comprehensive critical appreciation of the poem’s central reading.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available