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Treacherous FaithThe Specter of Heresy in Early Modern English Literature and Culture$
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David Loewenstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203390.001.0001

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Fears of Heresy, Blasphemy, and Religious Schism in Milton's Culture and Paradise Lost

Fears of Heresy, Blasphemy, and Religious Schism in Milton's Culture and Paradise Lost

(p.296) (p.297) 8 Fears of Heresy, Blasphemy, and Religious Schism in Milton's Culture and Paradise Lost
Treacherous Faith

David Loewenstein

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Paradise Lost continues to engage in imaginative ways with early modern debates over the nature of heresy, blasphemy, schism, and toleration. The chapter juxtaposes Milton's great poem not only with anti-heretical writings from the revolutionary decades and from the Restoration, but with Milton's last major pamphlet, Of True Religion, Haeresie, Schism, and Toleration (1673), since both works are engaged in their own different ways in rethinking the meanings of heresy and schism in the context of heated debates about toleration. Paradise Lost imaginatively revises cultural constructions of heretics, blasphemers, and schismatics. By giving Satan qualities associated by orthodox heresy-makers with subversive, cunning, and theatrical heretics, Milton remains engaged in the war over heresy, blasphemy, and schism that had divided and unsettled the religious world of his England and continued to do so during the years of religious conflict in the Restoration.

Keywords:   Paradise Lost, heresy, blasphemy, schism, cunning heretics, toleration, Restoration, imagination, theatrical

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