Spiritual Architecture and Paradise Regained: Milton's Literary EcclesiologyKen Simpson $70.00
Published in 2007 | 256 pages | cloth | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0391-6
“Simpson is both thorough and convincing in articulate ways in which [ecclesiological] views inform Milton's understanding of the visible church and its ministry.” — Renaissance Quarterly
“Sprirtual Architecture and 'Paradise Regained' is a sensitive, persuasive reading of Milton's poem in the light of the poet's distinctive theological principles.” ⎯ Modern Language Review
“Simpson's book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Milton's theology establishing the literary characteristics and demands of that church that Milton describes in Areopagitica. . . . well researched and persuasive.” — Christianity and Literary Studies
"One of the strengths of this study is in how effectively it draws together the threads of Milton's thought across his prose works, contextualizes them within the historical theological conversation, and presents a convincing picture of how Milton's textual community might function." -Christianity and Literary Studies
"Simpson's book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Milton's theology, establishing the literary characteristics and demands of that church that Milton describes in Areopagitica, the temple of the Lord which remains under construction until the Second Coming. His overarching argument is well-researched and persuasive. I would recommend Spiritual Architecture and Paradise Regained to scholars interested in Milton specifically or in seventeenth-century theology."- Christianity and Literary Studies
Ken Simpson's study, focusing on John Milton's Paradise Regained, examines the literary ecclesiology of this most subtle and elusive of Milton's works. While far less critical attention has been given to Paradise Regained over the years as compared to Paradise Lost and others of Milton's canon, it might be argued that Paradise Regained may be read as a full and culminating expression of Milton's views on the doctrine of the church, the nature of the Word, prophecy and vocation, and apocalypticism. As Simpson asserts, in Paradise Regained Milton not only continues his critique of the English Reformation by confronting the failures of the Restoration settlement, but he also continues to develop the consistent theology of the church that preoccupied him in his prose during the civil war and Interregnum. Theology, polemics, and poetry were not backgrounds of one another in Milton's work, nor was theology a set of abstract propositions to which all discourses referred; rather, these were overlapping fields of discourse that offered different opportunities to fulfill the religious imperative to build the church. Simpson examines Milton's view of the church as a textual community—a group of participants in the church who are each guided by the Holy Spirit in their reading of the Word. The interplay of silence and the Word, then, in Paradise Regained demonstrates that interpretive authority must always defer to the Spirit rather than tradition. This approach also shapes Milton's construction of ministry, liturgy, and church militancy in the poem. Simpson's provocative and unique examination of Milton and Paradise Regained will become an indispensable study, offering new views of this somewhat neglected poem.
KEN SIMPSON is assistant professor of English at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia. He has published articles on seventeenth century British Literary Studies and contemporary science fiction.