[Milton-L] "As by his Word . . ."

Mitchell M. Harris mitchell.harris at augie.edu
Mon Feb 14 16:18:22 EST 2011

Very good questions, John.

> 1) Would Milton's contemporaries and predecessors have called him an  
> Arian?

I would answer, yes, as well. However, the more I read, the more it  
seems to me that "Arian" was a conventional epithet for "heretic." And  
it seems that the word "Unitarian" doesn't yet exist in an operative  
manner in Milton's day.

> 2) Would Milton himself have used that word to describe his own  
> position?

Here, I would say no. The more I read about the Eastern Church  
Fathers, the more I become unconvinced that Arius dominated Milton's  
thoughts on Christology. This is not to say, however, that Arius  
didn't play a role in his Christology. I'm just beginning to believe  
that it was smaller than it has been made out to be. Moreover, anti- 
Trinitarianism took on many forms in post-Reformation Europe. I'm  
especially interested in learning more about the "Transylvanian anti- 
Trinitarians," who used Augustine (yes, the author of a text called  
_De Trinitate_) as their primary authority in asserting their anti- 
Trinitarian theology. Eastern Europe is especially messy in the  
matter, and there are many strange instances of East-meets-West in  
theological matters all across England in the 17th century. And  
knowing that Milton wrote _A Brief History of Moscovia_, I am becoming  
more uncomfortable calling Milton's anti-Trinitarianism "Arianism" by  
the minute.

All the best,

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