ABSTRACT

To an extent unnoticed in previous scholarship, Milton frequently engages passages from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians in De Doctrina Christiana and Paradise Lost. This is attested not only in the exegesis that Milton undertakes in both works but also in Milton’s personal King James Bible in which a marginal annotation records his preference to translate Paul’s reference to seeing “through a glass, darkly” as “in a riddle” (1 Cor. 13:12). This essay argues that Milton’s wrestling with Pauline scripture during the composition of De Doctrina Christiana helps to explicate his recurring citation of 1 Corinthians 15:24–28 in Paradise Lost. In the poem’s scenes of heavenly council, God the Father and the Son predict—repeatedly, and without theological consensus—the apocalyptic state that Paul describes. This begets a Miltonic poetic style that conforms to Paul’s concept of divine mystery, or spiritual truth known imperfectly.

You do not currently have access to this content.