Milton and the Rabbis: Hebraism, Hellenism, and Christianity

Kobo ebook | June 1, 2010

byJeffrey Shoulson

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Taking as its starting point the long-standing characterization of Milton as a "Hebraic" writer, Milton and the Rabbis probes the limits of the relationship between the seventeenth-century English poet and polemicist and his Jewish antecedents. Shoulson's analysis moves back and forth between Milton's writings and Jewish writings of the first five centuries of the Common Era, collectively known as midrash. In exploring the historical and literary implications of these connections, Shoulson shows how Milton's text can inform a more nuanced reading of midrash just as midrash can offer new insights into Paradise Lost.

Shoulson is unconvinced of a direct link between a specific collection of rabbinic writings and Milton's works. He argues that many of Milton's poetic ideas that parallel midrash are likely to have entered Christian discourse not only through early modern Christian Hebraicists but also through Protestant writers and preachers without special knowledge of Hebrew. At the heart of Shoulson's inquiry lies a fundamental question: When is an idea, a theme, or an emphasis distinctively Judaic or Hebraic and when is it Christian? The difficulty in answering such questions reveals and highlights the fluid interaction between ostensibly Jewish, Hellenistic, and Christian modes of thought not only during the early modern period but also early in time when rabbinic Judaism and Christianity began.

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Taking as its starting point the long-standing characterization of Milton as a "Hebraic" writer, Milton and the Rabbis probes the limits of the relationship between the seventeenth-century English poet and polemicist and his Jewish antecedents. Shoulson's analysis moves back and forth between Milton's writings and Jewish writings of th...

Jeffrey Shoulson is assistant professor of English and Judaic studies at the University of Miami.

other books by Jeffrey Shoulson

Fictions of Conversion: Jews, Christians, and Cultures of Change in Early Modern England
Fictions of Conversion: Jews, Christians, and Cultures ...

Kobo ebook|Mar 21 2013

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Format:Kobo ebookPublished:June 1, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231506392

ISBN - 13:9780231506397

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

A Note on the Texts
Introduction: Hebraism and Literary History
1. Diaspora and Restoration
2. "Taking Sanctuary Among the Jews'': Milton and the Form of Jewish Precedent
3. The Poetics of Accommodation: Theodicy and the Language of Kingship
4. Imagining Desire: Divine and Human Creativity
5. "So Shall the World Go On'': Martyrdom, Interpretation, and History
Epilogue: Toward Interpreting the Hebraism of Samson Agonistes
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

[Shoulson]... is as sophisticated a reader of Milton's works as he is of the rabbinical writings that shaped the milieu in which Milton and his contemporaries worked out their relationship to Christiantiy and to the ancient and contemporary Hebraic traditions. The results are enlightening and truly rewarding. A splendid book--at once engaging, learned, and forcefully written. Addressing the confluence of traditions that constitute Hebraism, Hellenism, and Christianity, Shoulson challenges us to reconsider Paradise Lost as an epic fully aware of the tensions that distinguished these traditions as they developed from their formative stages onward. Shoulson is remarkably at home not only in Milton studies and the early modern milieu but in the early rabbinical schools that left their mark on later culture.