Today is the 400th birthday of John Milton. Well-known in his time as a social and political commentator, Milton is mainly known today for writing the epic Paradise Lost about humanity’s creation and fall and its lesser-known companion piece Paradise Regained. Milton completed these pieces blind, dictating them to his daughter. Paradise Lost is particularly significant, portraying Satan as a villain and yet, at the same time, understandable (and some have said sympathetic) and giving him much of the background we now attribute to him that we assume is strictly biblical. A great parallel can be drawn (as I myself have done is a paper for college) between Satan in Paradise Lost and Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello.
Justin Taylor has posted an interview with Dr. Leland Ryken, Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College, on the topic of Milton’s Paradise Lost. You may have seen Ryken’s name mentioned here before, as he is the literary stylist for the English Standard Version Bible, the co-editor of the ESV Literary Study Bible and Ryken’s Bible Handbook, the literary content contributor for the ESV Study Bible, and the author of the best book on the Bible as literature, Words of Delight. He is an authority on Milton, having written his Ph.D. dissertation and a later book on the subject of Paradise Lost.
Ligionier Ministries also has an excellent article, “An Epic in the Making,” by Gene Edward Veith of Patrick Henry College on the context and content of Paradise Lost.