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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Word as sacrament: literary ecclesiology in Milton’s prose and Paradise regained Simpson, Kenneth Richard Adams


This dissertation argues that Milton develops a coherent and consistent literary ecclesiology throughout his prose works and "Paradise Regained". The authority, ministry, discipline, and jurisdiction of the church are all transformed by Milton’s literary humanism. Chapter one shows that because the textual and christological domains are analogous and sometimes identical in Milton’s prose, reading scripture and writing in response to it are sacramental and liturgical events performed for the universal church. Chapter two outlines the assumptions about reading and writing which make the Word a sacrament, the cornerstone of Milton’s literary ecciesiology. Chapter three describes Milton’s view that the ministry and liturgy of the church consist in acts of authentic creation by inspired authors. Chapter four discusses Milton’s idea that church discipline is the culmination of a rational process of edification and education within each individual rather than an external standard of behaviour or government for the church. Chapter five shows that in "Paradise Regained", Milton not only argues on behalf of the spiritual kingdom of Christ against the intrusion of the state in religious matters throughout the Restoration, but also brings together his views of the authority, ministry, and discipline of the Word to present a unified image of his literary ecclesiology.

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