Study Guide

Paradise Lost

by John Milton

Paradise Lost Summary

Overview

Paradise Lost

Summary of the Work
A short summary, entitled The Argument, is presented by Milton as a preface to each of the 12 books of Paradise Lost. In the first book, he announces the subject of the poem, Man's disobedience and the loss thereupon of Paradise. The poem opens in the midst of things, after the war in Heaven but before the fall of Adam and Eve. Satan and his multitude of angels have been cast out of Heaven and into the Deep for rebelling against God and are chained on the burning lake in Hell. Satan awakens his legions of angels, comforting them in their dejected state by offering them hope of reclaiming Heaven. He recounts an old prophecy he has heard, while still in Heaven, of another world that will be created with a new kind of creature called Man. Satan calls a council in his newly erected palace, Pandemonium, to decide whether to wage another war on Heaven. After a lengthy debate, the council finally decides to send Satan to search for God's new creation instead. He flies toward the gates of Hell which are guarded by Sin and Death. They open the gates and Satan meets Chaos who directs him to the new world.

Seeing Satan flying toward Earth, God points him out to the Son, prophesying that Satan will tempt Man to sin. God demonstrates his justice by declaring his divine grace to Man, however, only if someone will offer himself as a ransom for his sin. The Son volunteers and is praised by the angels in Heaven. Meanwhile, Satan has travelled through the Limbo of Vanity and reached the orb of the sun. He quickly disguises himself as a Cherub before he asks Uriel for directions to Earth.

On Earth, Satan disguises himself as a water bird in the Tree of Life where he overlooks the beauty of Adam and Eve in their blissful state. Later that night, Satan is caught at Eve's ear, tempting her in a dream, and he flies from the Garden. In the morning, Eve relates her disturbing dream to Adam.

Raphael is sent by God to caution Adam about the evil that is lurking in Paradise. After dining, Raphael engages Adam in a long conversation, reminding him of his obedience to God though he has been given free choice. Raphael informs Adam of the war in Heaven and the victory of the Son who drove Satan and his legions over the wall of Heaven and into the Deep. The Son was later sent by God to perform the work of creation in six days. Taking his leave, Raphael again cautions Adam to beware of God's command.

Returning to Paradise by night, Satan enters the body of the sleeping serpent. The next day, Eve innocently suggests to Adam that they work in separate areas of the Garden. Remembering Raphael's warning, Adam refuses at first but finally consents. Left alone, Eve is approached and flattered by the Serpent. He tells her his human speech and understanding were brought about by tasting of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He slowly convinces Eve to eat this same fruit. Although pleased with the taste and the exhilarating feeling, Eve approaches Adam with some reluctance. She convinces him to taste the fruit, and the effects are quickly felt, prompting them to cover their nakedness and blame each other for the sinful deed.

The guardian angels ascend to Heaven, and the Son is sent to judge the sinful pair. Out of pity, he also clothes them. In anticipation of their future appearance on Earth, Sin and Death build a broad highway over Chaos to make Earth more accessible. Satan returns to Pandemonium where he is greeted with a hiss from the fallen angels now transformed into serpents.

On Earth, Adam and Eve lament their fallen state. To avoid the curse that they have brought upon future generations, Eve considers taking her life, but Adam gives her hope that the promised Messiah, their seed, will avenge Satan by overcoming Death. The Son intercedes for the earthly pair, presenting their prayers of repentance to God who forgives them but proclaims that they must leave Paradise. Michael is sent from Heaven to deliver the unhappy message. Grieving his loss of Paradise, Adam pleads with Michael but finally abides by God's orders. Michael leads Adam to a high hill where he engages in a lengthy prophecy of the future of all mankind. He explains the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God. Comforted by God's promise, Adam awakens Eve who has been dreaming gentle dreams that have composed her spirit. Taking each of them by the hand, Michael leads them out of Paradise, guarded by the Cherubim and ushered by God's blazing sword.

The Life and Work of John Milton
John Milton left a rich legacy of English poetry and prose comprised of sonnets, lyric and epic poems, and controversial political and social pamphlets defending divorce, freedom of the press, and the Puritan cause. He was born in London on December 9, 1608. Though his father had been disinherited for transferring his allegiance from the Catholic to the Protestant church, he had made a substantial fortune as a scrivener and had also dabbled in money lending. As a talented musician, perhaps a professional, Milton's father would have kept company with artists and patrons alike. From early childhood the young Milton was exposed to the culturally rich atmosphere of seventeenth-century London. It is noteworthy that Shakespeare was still writing plays when Milton was born.

Recognizing their son's exceptional intellectual aptitude, his parents provided private tutors for him at an early age. In 1620, he attended St. Paul's school in London with Alexander Gill as his tutor. When he was 17, Milton entered Christ's College at Cambridge. His first years at Cambridge were not as happy as they had been at St. Paul's. Milton left college in his second year after a quarrel with his tutor, William Chappel. When he returned, he was assigned to a more compatible tutor, Nathaniel Tovey. Milton took his B.A. degree from Cambridge in 1629 and his M.A. three years later.

Though it had been Milton's intention to become a clergyman, his disillusionment with the Church of England under the leadership of Archbishop Laud had led him to direct his course toward the writing of poetry instead. Following his years at Cambridge, he went to live with his parents at Horton, their newly acquired country estate, where he enjoyed a period of uninterrupted leisure. Here he devoted his time to writing poetry and studying the Greek and Latin authors.

After the death of Milton's mother, his younger brother, Christopher, moved to Horton with his new wife. Perhaps his broken solitude and the loss of his mother influenced Milton to leave the family home and travel to the European continent in 1638. His travels through France and Italy, where he met many distinguished intellectuals and literary men, proved to be 16 of the most rewarding months of his life.

Upon arrival in England in 1639, Milton established residency in London. His nine-year-old nephew, John Phillips, boarded with him, receiving private tutoring. A year later John's older brother, Edward, joined them. When several other boarders moved in for private lessons, Milton's house began to resemble a small, private boarding school.

In 1642, Milton began to compose the dramatic version of Paradise Lost based on the ancient Greek model of tragedy. That same year, Milton, now 35 years old, brought a 17-year-old bride, Mary Powell, into the scholarly atmosphere of his boarding school. Her aversion to the studious life, along with the differences in their ages and interests, resulted in an unfortunate match. After several months she went back to her parents for a visit and did not return. The Powells, a strong Royalist family, were perhaps afraid of their daughter's close association with Milton, a parliamentarian who had openly opposed the King's cause. Milton's rebuttal to his wife's desertion took the form of a series of pamphlets defending divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. Mary Powell returned to him after two years of separation. The Royalist cause had been defeated, and the Powell family needed Milton's protection. His wife and several of her family members moved in with him, resulting in noise and confusion that was not conducive to scholarly concentration.

Mary Powell bore him four children. In 1652, Milton's fortunes rapidly declined when his only son died. It was in the same year that Milton became totally blind. The following year his wife died just after the birth of his third daughter. At the age of 45, Milton, in his desolation, was a blind widower with three small children, Anne, six years old, Mary, only three, and Deborah, an infant.

After five years he married Katharine Woodcock, but the happy marriage ended when she, along with their three-month-old son, died 16 months later. In 1663, he married Elizabeth Minshull, a 24-year-old woman who gave him the support and stability that had been lacking with his three grown daughters. He had sought their help as readers and amanuenses in his work, but they had, without his knowledge, attempted to sell his books and other possessions.

Milton died on November 8, 1674, from a sudden attack of gout or rheumatism. He was buried in St. Giles Cripplegate near his father. Elizabeth Minshull lived to cherish his memory, providing biographers with valuable information about his final years.

Estimated Reading Time

Milton's epic poetry is laced with classical and biblical allusions, and his language is elevated with a distinct departure from common speech. For an adequate understanding of the poem, it is, therefore, necessary to pay special attention to the difficult words and phrases and the allusions that are translated at the bottom of most texts of Paradise Lost. During the first reading, the 12 book, 282-page epic poem should be read for an understanding of the plot only. In this case, it can be read in approximately seven hours. After the initial reading, the poem should be read more carefully, making repeated use of a good dictionary and the glossary of the text to clarify the archaic language and Latinisms that frequently appear in Milton's verse. The second reading would probably take a little more than 12 hours for the entire epic poem, allowing about an hour for each book. Since the books vary from 15 to 34 pages, the reading time will not be the same for each book.

Paradise Lost Overview (Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Considered the greatest epic poem in English literature, John Milton’s monumental Paradise Lost, a twelve-book narrative poem written in iambic pentameter, tells the story

Of Man’s first disobedience and the fruitOf that forbidden tree whose mortal tasteBrought death into the World, and all our woe,With loss of Eden. . . .

Like classical epics of Greco-Roman antiquity, Paradise Lost opens in the midst of things (in medias res), at a central point of the action. In books 1 and 2, Satan and his peers have been defeated in the War in Heaven and, now in Hell, turn their vengeful thoughts toward another world, Earth, about to be created for some “new Race called Man.” As infernal deliverer of fallen angels, Satan, “author of evil,” promises to lead them out of Hell, thereby solidifying his hold on the throne of Hell. “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven,” Satan asserts, and he hopes to make God repent his act of creation. In escaping from Hell, Satan allies himself with his offspring, both Sin, the gatekeeper of Hell, and Death, in opposition to God. After voyaging through Chaos, the “unbottom’s infinite Abyss,” he deceives the archangel Uriel in order to discover the location of Paradise and then practices deception in tempting Eve.

Meanwhile, in book 3, in Heaven, where all measures of time—past, present, and future—coexist, God the Father, knowing that Satan will deceive Man, announces that Man, despite continual ingratitude and faithlessness, will find salvation. The Father ordains the Son’s incarnation and commands that he shall reign as universal king, “both God and Man.”

In book 4, Satan invades the “blissful solitude” of Adam and Eve in Eden, a paradoxical realm of “Eternal Spring” without decay. Satan learns from Adam and Eve that of all Eden offers, they are “not to taste that only Tree/ Of Knowledge,” and it is “death to taste that Tree.” Satan decides to “excite thir minds/ With more desire to know,” thinking “they taste and die: what likelier can ensue?” He wants to convince them that the Tree is not a symbol of obedience to God’s will. He never imagines that his action will bring forth God’s goodness by providing a means of redemption.

In book 5, God the Father sends Raphael to warn Adam and Eve of the danger and to impart the knowledge they need to resist Satan. Raphael explains the threat resulting from the War in Heaven, recounted in book 6. Moved by jealousy of the Son’s elevation, Satan incites a third of the angels in Heaven to rebel against God, who, on the third day of the war, sends the Son to end the rebellion. Satan and his evil angels, now “to disobedience fall’n” and envying the “state” of Adam and Eve, plot to seduce them and all their progeny that they, too, may share in “Eternal misery.” Raphael also explains the workings of physical nature in book 5 and, in book 7, the creation of the universe, stressing natural theology as the expression of God’s mind through his works. Raphael imparts knowledge as a defense against evil. In book 8, Adam reveals the effect that Eve has upon him; Raphael tells him to love Eve but love God first by obedience.

In book 9, Satan, incarnated as a serpent, argues that he can improve on perfection. He convinces Eve, now separated from Adam, that God maliciously denies them fruit of the Tree of Knowledge to keep them “low and ignorant.” Eve, in trusting appearances rather than the divine command not to eat of the Tree, reaches for the fruit: “she pluck’d, she eat” and “Earth felt the wound.” Common belief at the time generally accepted nature’s involvement in the Fall. Adam, “against his better knowledge,” also eats “of that fair enticing Fruit.” Earth again shudders at this completion of “the mortal Sin/ Original.”

In book 10, God the Son, “mild Judge and Intercessor,” pronounces the Genesis “curse” upon Adam and Eve as well as the serpent, the curse upon the serpent involving a hint of its eventual defeat: “Her seed shall bruise thy head, thou bruise his heel.” God explains that change and decay will now occur in everything, in all possible forms with all possible consequences. Eve, moved by God’s grace, initiates Adam’s as well as her own regeneration. She accepts responsibility for their sin and prompts Adam to remember the hint of victory to come.

God the Father, in book 11, directs Michael to banish Adam and Eve from Paradise, now subject to death, “a long day’s dying,” and to give them hope in “what shall come in future days.” In books 11 and 12, Michael outlines the history of salvation up to and including Redemption and return of the Savior, his account grimly realistic. Adam and Eve, “the World . . . all before them,” take their “solitary way” out of Eden, with an obtainable “paradise within thee, happier far.”

Paradise Lost Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In the tradition of the epic poem, Paradise Lost begins in medias res, in the middle of the story, showing in the first two of twelve books how Satan and his followers gathered their forces on the burning lake of Hell and sought out the newly created race of humans on Earth. (The revolt and resulting war in Heaven that preceded this action and earned the devils their place in Hell is reported in books 5 and 6.)

In book 3, God observes Satan traveling toward Earth, predicts the fall of human beings, and asks for someone to ransom them. Christ, the Son, accepts. In book 4, Adam and Eve are introduced, as Satan lies hidden in the Garden of Eden. Satan appears in Eve’s dream, encouraging her to taste of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, and in book 5 God sends the angel Raphael to warn Adam and Eve of their danger. Raphael begins the story of Lucifer’s revolt in Heaven, which he completes in book 6, and in book 7 Raphael tells of how God responded to Satan’s revolt by creating a new world, the earth, and a new race in Adam and Eve. In book 8, Adam describes to Raphael his and Eve’s creation, and Raphael delivers his final warning and departs. Book 9 tells the story of Satan’s successful temptation of Eve, the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and the resulting discord between Adam and Eve. In book 10, Christ passes judgment on Adam and Eve, and Sin and Death build a bridge from the gates of Hell to Earth as Satan is returning to Hell. At the end of book 10, Adam and Eve resolve their discord and petition God for forgiveness, which is granted in book 11 as God sends the archangel Michael to give Adam a vision of the future for humans. In book 12, after the vision of Christ’s sacrifice and redemption of the human race, Adam and Eve are expelled from Eden.

This brief synopsis, of course, does not communicate the grandeur and emotional intensity of Milton’s great poem. Milton begins Paradise Lost with two captivating books set in Hell and featuring Lucifer, or Satan, who rallies his defeated forces and vows eternal war on God before journeying toward Earth to destroy Adam and Eve. In Hell, Satan has a kind of heroic splendor, and such apparent grandeur led English Romantic poets such as William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley to identify with Satan as a tragic rebel and to proclaim that Milton subconsciously admired Satan. Although Milton’s subconscious mind must forever remain a mystery, this interpretation is very dubious, and generations of readers misled by Blake and his followers should read the poem more carefully. Milton began his epic with this larger-than-life portrait of Satan in order to provide God (who will obviously win) with a worthy adversary. Yet Satan’s pseudoheroic size is severely diminished in all of his appearances outside the first two books, and by the end of the poem Satan is not at all prominent, the heroic focus having shifted to the figure of Christ and the tragic focus having shifted to Adam and Eve. By the end of the poem, Satan is defeated and overshadowed by the larger themes of redemption and human responsibility.

One of the main causes of this Romantic distortion of Paradise Lost is the contrast between the first two books and book 3, where God the Father delivers theological lectures and clears Himself of blame for the Fall that He foretells but does not predestine. Compared to Hell and Satan, the figures of God and Christ the Son discoursing in Heaven seem dull, at least to most modern-day readers. It is almost with relief at the end of book 3 that the reader finds Milton returning to the description of Satan, who nears the Earth and passes through what is called the Paradise of Fools.

Only when the reader meets Adam and Eve is there a narrative interest to compete with Satan’s pseudoheroic stature, but the success of Milton’s poem comes from the fact that the two human characters, who finally become much more interesting even than the diabolical Satan, are domestic rather than heroic figures. Gradually, Adam and Eve become characterized as much by their conflict with each other as by their conflict with Satan. In what are now seen as strikingly sexist characterizations, Milton describes Adam as “for contemplation . . . and valor formed” while Eve is formed “for softness . . . and sweet attractive grace.” Yet the love between them is so convincingly real that even Satan is jealous as he watches “these two/ Imparadised in one another’s arms.” When Eve falls to Satan’s temptations in book 9, she is attempting to rise toward Adam’s supposedly superior status, and when Adam accepts sin and death with her, knowing the consequences, he does so out of “uxoriousness,” or excessive love for and submission to a wife. The immediate consequence is domestic bickering, each blaming the other for what has happened. Then Eve initiates a reconciliation, Adam suggests praying for forgiveness, and the poem ends with the first married couple walking “hand in hand” out of Paradise.

This rich quality of domestic tragedy has helped make Paradise Lost significant and powerful for twentieth and twenty-first century readers. It also may have had some effect on the creation of the modern novel. It can be argued that eighteenth century writers, overwhelmed by Milton’s achievement in Paradise Lost, were too intimidated to attempt again the epic scope in poetic form. Since no one was going to be able to surpass Milton in verse, the artistic impulse to work with epic size shifted to prose, and the novel was born in the eighteenth century with Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Henry Fielding. Certainly by shifting the epic subject from the traditional subjects of war and valor to marriage, Paradise Lost elevated domestic subject matter for centuries to come.

Paradise Lost Summary

Book I
Book I introduces the main subject matter of the poem: the creation, fall, and redemption of the world and...

(The entire section is 2183 words.)

Paradise Lost Summary and Analysis

Book 1 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Satan: the archangel, Lucifer, cast out of Heaven and ruling in Hell

Beelzebub: a fallen angel, second to Satan in power

Moloch: a fallen angel who later proposes “open war” with Heaven

Chemos: a demon who was later the god of the Moabites

Astarte: goddess of the moon fallen from Heaven and now in Hell

Thammuz: a fallen angel who later became a Babylonian god, symbol of fertility

Dagon: a fallen angel who later became a god of the Philistines; a sea monster who is half man, half fish

Rimmon: a fallen angel; later became a Syrian god

Osiris: an Egyptian male deity

Isis: wife of...

(The entire section is 2181 words.)

Book 2 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Sin: Satan’s daughter, born out of his head in Heaven

Death: born as the son of Satan and Sin’s incestuous relationship

Chaos: rules the region of confusion between Hell and Earth

Night: the consort of Chaos

Summary
As he is ready to begin the consultation, Satan sits on his exalted throne in Pandemonium, the capitol of Hell. Addressing his angels as “Powers, Dominions, and Deities,” Satan, in his vanity, is comparable to the monarchs of the Orient. He assures them that Heaven is not lost, and with a spirit of unity, they can return again to claim their “just inheritance.” He offers the alternatives of “open...

(The entire section is 2326 words.)

Book 3 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
God: creator of Heaven, the new world (Earth), and a new race called Man

The Son: sits on the right hand of God, the Father; volunteers to go down to Earth and give his life as a ransom for Man’s sins

Uriel: the angel of the sun; one of seven archangels who stands ready at God’s command

Summary
The poet opens Book III with an invocation to “holy Light,” the essence of God. “Since God is light,” it has coexisted with him eternally and flows from His very being. This light, the poet says, was the first thing to appear in God’s creation, emanating from him as the “offspring of Heaven first-born.” The poet has come out of...

(The entire section is 2687 words.)

Book 4 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Adam: first man created by God; forbidden to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise

Eve: first woman created by God out of Adam’s rib; tempted by the Serpent to eat the forbidden fruit

Gabriel: an angel guarding the gate of Paradise

Uzziel: an angel, who is next to Gabriel in power, guarding Paradise

Ithuriel: an angel appointed by Gabriel to search for Satan in ¬Paradise

Zephon: an angel who helps Ithuriel find Satan and bring him to Gabriel for questioning

Summary
Satan has reached the top of Mount Niphates which overlooks Eden. As he anticipates his “bold enterprise” against God...

(The entire section is 2557 words.)

Book 5 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Raphael: God’s angel; sent to Adam and Eve to warn them of the sin of disobedience to God

Abdiel: the only follower of Satan who remains faithful to God in the war in Heaven

Summary
In the morning, Adam awakes to the sound of birds singing in the trees. He has slept well but is alarmed at the sight of Eve’s disheveled look. Rousing her from a night of fitful sleep, Adam learns that she has had a disturbing dream. Someone, whose voice sounded like Adam’s, had spoken into her ear, she says, asking her to join him during the moonlit hours to enjoy the cool and silent beauty of the night. She rose at Adam’s call but did not see him. Searching...

(The entire section is 2675 words.)

Book 6 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Michael: leads God’s angels in battle in the war in Heaven

Zophiel: one of Michael’s angels who warns them of the approaching foe, Satan and his legions of angels

Nisroch: one of Satan’s angels who becomes discouraged with the war

Summary
Raphael continues his account of Satan’s rebellion and the subsequent war in Heaven. Abdiel has flown all night long after leaving Satan and his legions of angels in the North. He arrives in the morning, expecting to warn God’s loyal angels of Satan’s impending uprising but, to his surprise, finds them in preparation for war. They welcome his return and lead him to the “sacred hill”...

(The entire section is 2780 words.)

Book 7 Summary and Analysis

Summary
The poet invokes the muse, Urania, but he makes it clear that it is “the meaning, not the name” that he is calling forth. His muse is not one of the nine sisters who was born on Mount Olympus but is “heavenly born” instead. Wisdom is her sister and the two played in the presence of the “Almighty Father” before the hills were created. The poet asks the muse to guide him safely down to Earth, his native element, from his wanderings in Heaven. His poem is only half sung, but he now feels safer and more familiar with mortal things on Earth despite the danger and “evil days” that have come upon him. He asks the muse to find an audience for his words and to drive away “Bacchus” and his...

(The entire section is 1936 words.)

Book 8 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Adam has been so captivated by Raphael’s discourse on the creation of the World that he waits expectantly for him to continue. When he realizes that Raphael has finished, he thanks him appropriately. His thirst for knowledge has been allayed, Adam says, but yet another doubt remains that can only be resolved by the archangel. Adam is troubled by the disproportions in Nature in which a superfluous number of celestial bodies revolve around the ¬“sedentary Earth” that is merely a spot or atom compared to the firmament.

When Eve sees that Adam is entering into an intellectual conversation with Raphael, she excuses herself to attend to her garden. She would be delighted by such...

(The entire section is 2362 words.)

Book 9 Summary and Analysis

Summary
The poet must now dispense with all the talk about God or angel as the guests of Man in Paradise, he says. He can no longer indulge them in food and conversation but must now change the epic to a tragic tone. Man will disobey God, and Heaven will rebuke Man, judging him for bringing Sin, Death, and Misery into the World. Though it is a “sad task,” it has a more heroic theme than those of prior epics dealing with the wrath of Achilles (the Iliad), the anger of Neptune against Odysseus (the Odyssey), and Juno’s hostility toward Aeneas, Cytherea’s son (the Aeneid), along with the anger of Turnus for...

(The entire section is 4755 words.)

Book 10 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Since nothing escapes the eye of the omniscent God, it is known in Heaven that the Serpent has perverted Eve and she has, in turn, tempted Adam to taste the “fatal fruit.” God has not hindered Satan from tempting Adam and Eve, however. In his wisdom and justice, God has armed them with free will, but they have chosen to disobey him and have, therefore, deserved to fall.

The guardian angels from Paradise arrive in Heaven with the sad news. They are greeted by multitudes of angels who are displeased but also show pity for Adam and Eve. God’s voice appears from a cloud amidst the thunder, and the angels gather to listen. God calms the angels’ fears and tells the guards of Paradise...

(The entire section is 2785 words.)

Book 11 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Adam and Eve now stand repentant before God who has sent his prevenient grace down from Heaven to soften their hearts. Their prayers are heard by the Son who intercedes for them, asking for their peaceful reconciliation with God. Though he grants them forgiveness, God will not allow them to remain in Paradise because its “pure immortal elements” will no longer mix with their sinful nature. God has provided Death as Man’s “final remedy” which will be followed by a “second life” for the just who live by faith.

God then calls an assembly of his heavenly angels to inform them of his judgment of mankind. To prevent Adam and Eve from tasting the fruit of the Tree of Life and,...

(The entire section is 2401 words.)

Book 12 Summary and Analysis

Summary
After the vision of Noah and the destruction of the world by flood, Michael pauses for a moment to give Adam an opportunity to ask further questions. Since he does not respond, Michael hurries on to resume the story of human history, but instead of showing the events he will now tell about them.

With the judgment of God by flood still fresh in their minds, Noah’s descendants live righteous and peaceful lives, Michael says, until Nimrod, ambitious for power, rises up in rebellion to God. To make a name for himself that will be remembered throughout the world, he gathers a crew to help him build the Tower of Babel “whose top may reach to Heaven.” It is made from brick and the...

(The entire section is 2252 words.)