The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton, and Blake

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Overview

The Trinity of orthodox Christianity is harmonious. The Trinity for Blake is, conspicuously, not a happy family: the Father and the Son do not get on. It might be thought that so cumbersome a notion is inconceivable before the rise of Romanticism but the Ophite Gnostics of the second century AD appear to have thought that God the Father was a jealous tyrant because he forbade Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and that the serpent, who led the way to the Tree of Knowledge, was really Christ. This book explores the possibility of an underground "perennial heresy," linking the Ophites to Blake. The "alternative Trinity" is intermittently visible in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and even in Milton's Paradise Lost. Blake's notorious detection of a pro-Satan anti-poem, latent in this "theologically patriarchal" epic is less capricious, better grounded historically and philosophically, than is commonly realized.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198184621
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/12/1998
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

A. D. Nuttall is Professor of English and Fellow of New College, Oxford. His previous books include Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? and Dead from the Waist Down.

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Table of Contents

List of Plates
List of Abbreviations
Introduction 1
I Blake: The Son Versus the Father 4
II Raising the Devil: Marlowe's Doctor Faustus 22
i Calvinists and Hermetists 22
ii Flying Men and Gnostics 41
III Milton 71
i Satan's Shield 71
ii Milton's Theodicy: The Argument from Freedom 86
iii The Garden as Maze 101
iv The Fortunate Fall 116
v Arianism, Monism, Materialism 136
vi The Invisible Christ 161
vii The Language of Trees: Unstable Mythologies 171
IV Blake 192
i Godly Nudists 192
ii The Matrix of Blake's Thought 200
iii Blake and Milton 224
iv Antinomian Blake 239
v Contraries 257
Index 273
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