The Sword of the Spirit

Puritan Responses to the Bible

By John R. Knott, Jr.

The Sword of the Spirit

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  • ISBN: 9781610978576
  • Pages: 204
  • Publication Date: 12/16/2011
  • Retail Price: $25.00
Web Price: $20.00
Web Price: $20.00

The Sword of the Spirit

Puritan Responses to the Bible

By John R. Knott, Jr.

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781610978576
  • Pages: 204
  • Publication Date: 12/16/2011
  • Retail Price: $25.00
Web Price: $20.00

About-

This book focuses on the imaginative character of Puritan writing, especially as revealed through the use of biblical images and themes. Knott illustrates the richness and power of the best Puritan writing by analyzing the work of five writers: Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, Gerrard Winstanley, John Milton, and John Bunyan. Although these writers differ from one another in many important respects, together they illustrate the range of responses to the Bible among those who in one way or another resisted the versions or orthodoxy imposed by the Anglican Church.

The chapters on Sibbes, Baxter, and Winstanley implicitly make a case for considering these writers as part of the canon of seventeenth-century literature: Sibbes because he exemplifies the best qualities of "spiritual preaching" (as opposed to the witty or metaphysical preaching of John Donne); Baxter because his Saints Everlasting Rest, one of the most influential works in its time, offers a compelling statement on some of the central themes of Puritan spirituality; and Winstanley because his visionary prose offers perhaps the most vivid and powerful statement of the millenarian expectations rampant in mid-seventeenth-century England.

The book concludes with chapters on two major figures of the era, Milton and Bunyan. In his consideration of Milton, Knott challenges the predominant critical emphasis on Milton's Christian humanism and argues for the importance of Puritan strains in his writing. The analysis of Bunyan draws from the spiritual autobiography Grace Abounding, and from The Holy War, a relatively neglected epic of spiritual life, as well as from The Pilgrim's Progress.

These five writers, who make up a chronological sequence reaching from the 1620s to the 1680s, represent different moments in the evolution of a Puritan spirituality. In their distinctive ways they sought to recover the original simplicity of the Word of God and to express its extraordinary power to transform the individual and society.

Contributors-

John R. Knott, Jr.

Bio(s)-

John R. Knott, Jr. is professor of English at the University of Michigan and the author of Milton's Pastoral Vision, published by University of Chicago Press.

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