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664 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE economy so transfixed by the surface of its images that it failed to acknowledge the tradition ... which ... constitut[es] their history and inform[s] their meaning" (216). Badir notes that, while The Rover is certainly pro-Royalist in its politics, its satire seeks to offer a mediating alternative to "Protestant iconophobia and Cavalier irreverence" (214). The reader who comes to this volume expecting a single thesis defining the significance of Mary Magdalene in early modern English literature will, no doubt, be disappointed. The strength of this volume-suggested in its title-is its suggestive and impressionistic appeal. While well grounded historically, critically, and textually, Badirs tour of early modern Magdalene imagery points always to the seemingly limitless ways the character and image of Mary has been imagined and reimagined, and the ways she often eludes our grasp. Karen DeMent Youmans Oklahoma Baptist University Milton's Scriptural Reasoning: Narrative and Protestant Toleration. By Phillip J. Donnelly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-521-509732 . Pp. x + 267. $90.00. Reason and scripture have a historically complex relationship. Moments of crisis in religious history are often marked by a redefining of faith in terms of its opposition to reason. During the heated debates of the Protestant Reformation, for example, Luther claimed in his dispute with Erasmus that it gives "the greatest possible offense to common sense or natural reason that God by his own sheer will should abandon, harden, and damn men" (Free Will and Salvation, ed. Rupp and Watson; Philadelphia, 1979,p. 244). This attitude toward reason shaped the debates of Milton and his contemporaries in the midst of another religiously oriented historical crisis, the English civil war. Early in this crisis, Milton held a similar view of reason as antagonistic to scripture and faith, and wrote in a tract supporting the Presbyterian cause: "we shall tell them of Scripture [until] the mighty weaknes of the Gospel throw down the weak mightines of mans reasoning" (Reason of Church Government [1642], p. 44). This passage, which opposes the two terms of the title under review, places Milton and his party on the side of "Scripture:' and his adversaries on the weak and unhallowed ground of "reasoning:' But as Milton matured, he became a surprisingly strong advocate of "reason:' endorsing it frequently by itself and as it applied to biblical hermeneutics. Phillip J. Donnelly's Milton's Scriptural Reasoning takes on the challenge of understanding Milton's religiously informed use of "reason:' mostly as it relates to his late masterpieces, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. BOOK REVIEWS 665 Donnelly's interest is in closely recovering the biblical intertextuality of the poetry; he begins with the astute claim that "theologically oriented studies of Milton" have tended not to focus on "the biblical intertextuality whose weave makes up his poetic matter and form" (1). This interpretive focus promises to illustrate an overarching thesis that Milton employs and enjoins a very different kind of rational thought from the emerging "modern" conception of reason. Donnelly argues that critics have generally understood Milton in a distorting and anachronistic fashion, and that "Milton did not participate in modern assumptions regarding the function and purpose of human reason" (4). He associates the modern "account of reason" with such writers as "Machiavelli, Descartes, or Hobbes;' and sees Milton's prose and poetry as indicating a "consistent rejection of such a view" (4). The term "modern" is used intensively and with great frequency in this study, so much that one wishes for more reflection on just what is at stake in either a modern or an un -modern Milton. Since a great deal hinges on the controversial point that Milton's use of "reason" isvastly different from the modern view of figures like Machiavelli, Descartes, or Hobbes, the book would have made its argument still more convincingly by suggesting how these figures-who were all actually older than Milton by 20 to 139 years-possess a common vocabulary. It might easily be argued that these three, from quite different contexts and nationalities, themselves offer very different views of "reason" and sometimes not very modern ones at all. The most usefully compared contemporary here is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 664-668
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-14
Open Access
No
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