I usually check out Wikipedia first when I start reading a book on my list. It helps me get an overview of the author, the period it was written in, and what the book is about. I may find links to other information as well as learn a little about the political climate the book was written in, which is always fascinating to me. This time the thing that stuck out to me was that it was published about twenty years after Galileo died. That puts the work into my own mental time line. I wasn’t excited to read this at first. It’s “epic poetry” and that isn’t usually my favorite, but this ended up being very different. I couldn’t put it down. It just flowed so well while reading it. I could see the story in my mind and it brought me much joy. I realized quickly that this poem was kind of like today’s “fan fiction” in that it took a story from the bible and expanded on it, adding details and imagery that weren’t in the original work. I loved it…until it got toward the end and he put a lot of his current views on the role of women in the story that I don’t believe were in the biblical accounts. When I read the bible, I don’t see the negative, “less than” roles that people put on women. I see help-meet, equal, loved/created by God, not as man’s servant but as his partner. I don’t see a patriarchal system set up by God.
While reading, I wondered where Milton got his imagery of Satan and started looking into it. There is a whole lot mentioned in the bible about Satan, his physical appearance, or where he came from, from what I remember. I started reading a site called https://christianity.stackexchange.com/, it led me to some interesting discussions.
There were some amazingly wonderful scenes and descriptions. One of my favorites is the Fall of Lucifer and how he became Satan. And the rise of Sin and Death. It goes something like Lucifer fell because of Sin, Sin has the key to Hell, Sin gave birth to Death, Death has no one to consume in Hell so he tortures Sin, Satan goes to this new world to find some place to set Sin and Death free. Yikes! Sounds like a Greek myth, doesn’t it?
What’s interesting to me is that none of this is in the bible, so where did these ideas come from and why do have them so set as Christian doctrine, or at least in our minds as such? That’s what I’m aiming to find out! I’ve started new online classes at https://www.christianleadersinstitute.org/ I’ve always wanted to take seminary classes and this is free, online, and self-paced.
I’m so glad I read this book! It was a wonderful read. I may even read it again some day!