Time and Temptation in Paradise Regained: Belief and the Single Image

  • Patrick Grant


There is not much sense of history in Richard Crashaw. As a Neo-Platonist he simply does not engage as a problem the historical facts of the saints’ lives with which he deals.1 The enduring and transcendent significance of a life as exemplar is, for Crashaw, what really matters. Yet Christianity has always insisted on joining Crashaw’s kind of Platonic speculation with the Hebrew sense of uniqueness in temporal events, even though the measures in which the ingredients are mixed have varied a great deal in the history of Christian thought.2 In the early church, which lived with a strong sense of impending apocalypse, history was especially important, whereas the church of the high Middle Ages, dominated by Platonism, stressed more firmly the a-temporal quality of saving truth. The central rite of the mass in particular symbolised a continuing transection of time by eternity, and the resultant sacramental emphasis highlighted a conception of the world structured hierarchically towards the changeless Ideas in whose image the realm of shifting material things was created.


Time Past Christian Doctrine Paradise Lost Material Creation Early Church 
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  1. 22.
    William G. Madsen, From Shadowy Types to Truth. Studies in Milton’s Symbolism (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1968), pp. 87 ff; 1to ff; Stanley Fish, Surprised by Sin.Google Scholar
  2. 27.
    A. J. A. Waldock, ‘Paradise Lostand its Critics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947), esp. ch. V, ‘God and the Angels and Dante’, pp. 97–118.Google Scholar
  3. 40.
    See Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance (Middlesex: Peregrine, 1967), p. 267. The following account derives from Wind’s study.Google Scholar
  4. 53.
    Trans. in D. W. Robertson, Jr., A Preface to Chaucer ( New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1969 ), p. 383–4.Google Scholar

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© Patrick Grant 1979

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  • Patrick Grant

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