The Father's Dutiful Son: The Problematic Mediatorial Function Of The Son Of God

Date
2014-01-15
Authors
Yu, Young Kun
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract
As a theological work, the De Doctrina Christiana (Christian Doctrine) emerges from a tradition in which the Bible is taken as literal and historical truth. However, the epic poem Paradise Lost has its own traditions it must adhere to and the differing structural requirements of a religious treatise and a literary epic have led to interesting arguments concerning where the line can be drawn between the two forms. In other words, how much artistic liberty can we assign to Milton? Without any reference in the Bible or in his own treatise to such events, Milton includes in Paradise Lost, the heavenly and satanic counsels and the battle in Heaven. As readers, we give Milton the liberty to interpret the world through his artistic genius, through our suspension of disbelief. Therefore, we can take these episodes as fictional/dramatical embellishments which enhance the artistic value of the poem. However, this leaves both works vulnerable to much criticism about where the line is then drawn between the two works, and scholars have been quick to offer their ideas. The focus of this scholarly attention is upon the seeming contradictions within the poem Paradise Lost, and between the poem and the treatise De Doctrina Christiana. On this very point, Irene Samuel makes an insightful comment when she analyzes Book Ill, the dialogue in Heaven: "we have in- cautiously misconstrued as dogma what Milton intended as drama" (601). While this observation has some merit, it severely diminishes the "artistic unity" of the poem by fragmenting it into sections of religious doctrine, and dramatic artifice. It is my argument that Milton would not have compromised his theological beliefs for the sake of artistic convenience: that Paradise Lost is doctrinally consistent with the De Doctrina Christiana, especially with regard to God the Father, Milton's anti-trinitarianism, and the unique role of the Son of God.
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