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Milton and the Preaching Arts
     

Milton and the Preaching Arts

by Jameela Lares
 

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This study truly breaks new ground in Milton scholarship by demonstrating the extent to which Milton’s work reflects the dominant discourse of his age – preaching.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the pulpit consistently commanded greater audiences than did the stage, and many of the era’s great poets were also preachers. Milton

Overview

This study truly breaks new ground in Milton scholarship by demonstrating the extent to which Milton’s work reflects the dominant discourse of his age – preaching.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the pulpit consistently commanded greater audiences than did the stage, and many of the era’s great poets were also preachers. Milton himself argued that poetry can serve “beside the office of a pulpit” and prepared for his life’s work at the greatest English center for formal homiletics of its time, Christ’s College, Cambridge, but this connection has been virtually ignored by scholars and critics in examining Milton’s poetry

Lares now challenges the longstanding assumption that Milton the poet paid no attention to the ministerial training of his past, and she demonstrates how Milton appropriated many structures from English preaching in his own work. That preaching was informed by five sermon types – doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction and consolation – first enumerated by the continental reformer Andreas Gerhard Hyperius (1511 – 1564). Milton, we find, favored an odd combination of correction and consolation. Of all the preaching manuals published in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, only one so combines consolation and correction: Methodus concionandi by William Chappell, Milton’s first tutor at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

Milton’s use of homiletics, as explained by Lares, may be used in particular to resolve many critical issues related to the last two books of Paradise Lost, which are composed of Adam’s dream vision and Michael’s narration thereof. These diffuse books, which scholars have been unable to place into any critical paradigm, are actually sermonic in structure and content. And Paradise Regained, in which Milton seems to reject classical rhetoric, actually reflects then-contemporary pulpit concerns over the stylistic inadequacy of the Bible. Moreover, Milton’s prose commentaries – often deplored as strident and uncharitable – follow the structure of a sermon of reproof.

Editorial Reviews

Theology Today
The chapters in Milton and the Preaching Arts are few, long, and rich with data, complex analysis, and intricate argument. The overall thrust of the work is clear, and Lares's prose at times is quite moving.
Booknews
Lares (English, U. of Southern Mississippi) challenges long held assumptions that Milton, as poet, disregarded his training at the foremost school of homiletics, Christ's College, Cambridge, and argues instead that Milton used many structures from English preaching in his own work. In the process she demonstrates that the last two books of are actually sermonic in structure and content, and discusses a variety of English sermon manuals, Bible commentaries, and works of religious controversy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780227679647
Publisher:
Lutterworth Press, The
Publication date:
01/01/2001
Pages:
368

Meet the Author

JAMEELA LARES is associate professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is also a contributing editor to the forthcoming Milton Variorum volume on Paradise Lost.

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