[Milton-L] apostasy and apology
Horace Jeffery Hodges
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 2 03:17:30 EST 2008
Matthew, I just noticed your email on my query. For some reason, the message posted far down among my already-read emails.
Anyway, thanks for the details and clarifications.
Matthew Stallard <ms493101 at ohio.edu> wrote:
> Oh, and since we're on the topic of these things, a Jehovah's Witness
> recently left a message at my blog and said that he thinks that Milton
> would have rejoiced in knowing of the JWs. He also claimed that Milton's
> works had inspired the 19th-century founders of the Witnesses. I wonder
> if that's historically the case.
> Jeffery Hodges
There is no "direct" evidence that JWs were influenced by Milton.
If Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Watchtower Bible and Tract
Society in 1879, read PL, he doesn't mention it in his writings. The
Witnesses, do however, share several striking doctrinal similarities, and
they certainly would have found a place among the disparate voices of the
17C dissenters. They are mortalists (for JWs the implications being no
burning hell or purgatory)and reject the trinity doctrine. Although they
accept a kinda-sorta-Augustinian version of "original sin," they do not
practice infant baptism. "Foreknowing" is distinguished from
"foreordination," and "free-will" is emphasized. Their annual plain style
observance of "the Lord's Evening Meal" is nothing like a "high mass," and
they stress the emblematic and symbolic nature of the unleavened bread and
wine (no transubstantiation or consubstantiation here). The notion of
anything being a "sacrament" is foreign to Jehovah's Witnesses. JWs
anticipate a future millennial reign of Christ that will originate in
heaven but restore paradisiacal conditions on earth. In contrast with PL,
the Witnesses place Satan's defeat and subsequent confinement to tartarus
and earth chronologically well after the fall of Adam and Eve. In terms of
ecclesiology, they reject the notion of a clergy class.
Although they are not "antinomian," the role of an individual's
"conscience" in matters of personal choice is inviolate. They consider the
political world to be irredeemably corrupt, and they declare their
politically neutral status in any country in which they may live. They
refuse military service and are often incarcerated for this stand in many
parts of the world. For example, 12,000 were imprisoned in Nazi
concentration camps and 2,000 died. The will not salute the flag of any
nation nor will they stand for a national anthem, considering these
practices to be forms of idolatry.
I recommend the documentary that recently aired on PBS about them entitled
_Knocking_. Interestingly, one of the principal teaching books of JWs, no
longer in print, was _From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained_ published in
1958. Milton does not receive a byline.
Department of English
347 Ellis Hall
Athens, OH 45701
matthew.s.stallard.1 at ohio.edu
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Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
School of English, Kyung Hee University
1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu
Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
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