We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Fleshly Tabernacles

Milton and the Incarnational Poetics of Revolutionary England

Bryan Adams Hampton

Publication Year: 2012

In Fleshly Tabernacles, Bryan Hampton examines John Milton’s imaginative engagement with, and theological passion for, the Incarnation. As aesthetic symbol, theological event, and narrative picture of humanity’s potential, the Incarnation profoundly governs the way Milton structures his 1645 Poems, ponders the holy office of the pulpit, reflects on the ends of speech and language, interprets sacred scripture or secular texts, and engages in the radical politics of the Civil War and Interregnum. Richly drawing upon the disciplines of historical and postmodern theology, philosophical hermeneutics, theological aesthetics, and literary theory, Fleshly Tabernacles pursues the wide-ranging implications of the heterodox, perfectionist strain in Milton’s Christology. Hampton illustrates how vibrant Christologies generated and shaped particular brands of anticlericalism, theories of reading and language, and political commitments of English nonconformist sects during the turbulent decades of the seventeenth century. Ranters and Seekers, Diggers and Quakers, Fifth monarchists and some Anabaptists—many of those identified with these radical groups proclaim that the Incarnation is primarily understood, not as a singular event of antiquity, but as a present eruption and charged manifestation within the life of the individual believer, such that faithful believers become “fleshly tabernacles” housing the Divine. The perfectionist strain in Milton’s theology resonated in the works of the Independent preacher John Everard, the Digger Gerrard Winstanley, and the Quaker James Nayler. Fleshly Tabernacles intriguingly demonstrates how ideas of the incarnated Christ flourished in the world of revolutionary England, expressed in the notion that the regenerated human self could repair the ruins of church and state.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. iii-iv


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-x

“a grateful mind / By owing owes not . . . , at once / Indebted and discharg’d.” This work has been encouraged and sustained by many, and it is my hope that I have met their considerable generosity with a mind and heart brimming with gratitude. I know that none of them consider ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-23

Revolutionary England was populated by immortals. Most dwelled in the banality of their own day-to-day affairs without interruption, without incident, and within the sometimes-overlapping spheres of public and private devotion. Prompted by mysterious, inner motions, a few of ...

Part I: Proclaiming the Word

read more

Chapter 1: “Such harmony alone”

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 27-58

The Incarnation is the site of serene beauty and stark terror, flashing illumination and darkened vexation: How is it that an infinite Being stoops its head under the lintel of the starry sky to dwell in the cracked clay of a finite creature? In the Incarnation, the “manger contains the ...

read more

Chapter 2: Infernal Prophesying

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 59-106

When Satan is discovered by the angels Ithuriel and Zephon in Eden, having already half-accomplished his task in his insidious whispering to the sleeping Eve, he is brought before Gabriel to account for his presence. Satan first replies that he has escaped hell to “boldly venture to ...

Part II: Milton’s Incarnate Reader

read more

Chapter 3: The Greatest Metaphor

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 109-132

In his Life of Moses the Cappadocian Gregory of Nyssa (d. 395) understands Moses’s transforming encounter with the “text” of the burning bush as a figure for the Incarnate Word—the Lord descends into creation to inhabit and underwrite material reality without consuming it. ...

read more

Chapter 4: Milton’s Parable of Misreading

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 133-166

We first meet Satan and his cohort of rebel angels in Paradise Lost as they are engulfed in “livid flames” (1.182) and are ceaselessly tossing upon the furious waves of hell’s lake, newly vanquished and desirous of relief. Trying to rouse his fallen troops Satan suggests they raise themselves ...

read more

Chapter 5: Fashioning the True Pilot

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 167-223

In the previous chapter we explored the poetic, parabolic, and theological trope of the ship upon the seas as a keen image of the soul in reading that is faced with the dangers of false stability and transcendence in the figure of the Leviathan. The emblem epitomizes Milton’s argument ,,,

Part III: Revolutionary Incarnations and the Metaphysics of Abundance

read more

Chapter 6: The Perfect Seed of Christ

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 227-264

For the Presbyterian minister Thomas Edwards, “publishing was . . . an entirely partisan affair.” His massive compendium, Gangraena (1646), aroused more than twenty published responses in the year following its publication and significantly contributed not only “to Presbyterian ...

read more

Chapter 7: Pageant and Anti-Pageant

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 265-292

George Witherley was apparently among the first to see them in silent procession that autumn afternoon late in October 1656. While the townsfolk of Bedminster in western England were scurrying indoors to avoid being soaked by the deluge that poured from the heavens, Witherley

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 293-300

Limits, in Milton’s great epic, cannot be conceived without their transgression. The preceding chapters have tried to demonstrate, however, that Milton’s vibrant and sustained thinking, reading, and writing about the Incarnation drive the threshold of those limits nearly to the edge ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 312-361


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 362-374

E-ISBN-13: 9780268081744
E-ISBN-10: 0268081743
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268030964
Print-ISBN-10: 0268030960

Page Count: 386
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 818733968
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Fleshly Tabernacles

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Milton, John, -- 1608-1674 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Milton, John, -- 1608-1674 -- Religion
  • Incarnation in literature.
  • Christianity and literature -- England -- History -- 17th century.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access