Paradise Regained by John Milton

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Paradise Regained Summary

In Milton's famous epic poem, he describes the temptation of Jesus Christ by Satan as written in the Gospel of Luke in the Bible. Paradise Regained is a shorter, direct poem with simpler language than Milton's previous Paradise Lost, but both epics share theological themes. In Paradise Regained, Milton emphasizes the human elment of hunger, both spiritual and physical.

Using Luke 4 as a reference in Paradise Regained, Milton depicts the interaction, dialogue, and conclusion of Satan's efforts to tempt Christ as Christ spent forty days and nights in the wilderness. During this time, Christ ate nothing, choosing to fast for the purpose of focusing on communion with his Father, God. Satan tried to tempt Christ with food, power, and vanity, each time trying to cause Christ to sin. However, each time, Christ rebuked Satan with a reply from the Word of God. Ultimately, Satan left in defeat.

Paradise Regained is replete with reversals, most notably the solution for the separation between God and humans due to sin in the Garden of Eden as described in Paradise Lost. Milton depicts Christ's victory over sin and Satan as a restorative salvation opportunity for mankind to once again be in relationship with God through Christ.

Summary

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Paradise Regained is poet John Milton’s sequel to his great epic poem Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), in which he began his history of sin and redemption by telling the story of the fallen angel Lucifer (Satan) and the loss of innocence through Adam and Eve’s original sin and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Whereas Paradise Lost consisted of ten books (twelve in its 1674 revised version) of blank verse, Paradise Regained consists of only four. In the poem’s induction, Milton announces that he will complete the history of sin and redemption begun with Paradise Lost. Thus, Paradise Regained retells Luke’s account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert by Satan.

Milton begins his story with Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. At this event, a voice from Heaven announces that Jesus is the Son of God, a term whose meaning is crucial to the story as Jesus grows in knowledge of himself and his role as the Messiah. Jesus, returning to his mother Mary’s house, hears from Mary the story of his miraculous birth, announced by the angel Gabriel. Jesus then wanders in the desert for forty days and nights as he ponders how to begin his mission.

Meanwhile, Satan has observed Christ’s baptism and heard the announcement that Jesus is the Son of God, though he is unsure of what the term “Son of God” means. Calling a council of devils, Satan resolves to corrupt Jesus as he did Adam. God the Father views all these characters from Heaven and tells the angel Gabriel that Jesus’ time in the desert will be his trial period, which he will pass just as Job did. In the wilderness, Satan, disguised as an old man, confronts Jesus. Posing as Jesus’ friend and adviser, Satan tempts Jesus (who now feels the pangs of hunger after his forty days in the wilderness) by telling him to turn the stones into food. Jesus, however, sees through Satan’s disguise and says that man lives by God’s Word, not by bread. During Jesus’ absence, Andrew and Simon, Jesus’ followers, search for him and meditate on his significance, while Mary keeps her faith in God’s promise.

Satan calls another devils’ council to debate how to destroy Jesus. The fallen angel Belial advocates tempting Jesus with women, but Satan disdainfully cites the examples of great men who resisted lust. After his council, Satan returns to Jesus and spreads before him a proper offering to the Son of God, a banquet in the wilderness—all the world’s fine foods with beautiful women for attendants. Jesus sees through Satan, realizing that the real temptation here is to take food as a gift from Satan; he rejects Satan’s offer, saying that he could command a greater feast if he wanted. Next, Satan offers Jesus wealth, without which (Satan indicates) the Son of God can never rule a great...

(The entire section is 1,099 words.)