The Anti-Episcopal Tracts: Republican Puritanism and the Truth in Poetry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


John Milton's five tracts against the idea of bishops in the Church of England argue one essential point: that there is no justification for the position of bishop (as opposed to minister) in the blueprint for Christian churches to be found in the New Testament, and in the Pauline epistles in particular. Milton's views on church government in these early 1640s tracts are grounded in a profound belief in Scripture reading for all and a return to Scripture for church precepts. The anti-episcopal tracts are exercises in discursive zeal: in righteous anger raised against the prelates. The argument of Of Reformation seeks to purify the body of Christ and his Church. Furthermore, the issue of Milton's political allegiances in these tracts is described. The anti-episcopal tracts were an opportunity for the younger poet, in his thirty-third year, to engage in public controversy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Milton
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743900
ISBN (Print)9780199697885
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Anti-episcopal tracts
  • Church of England
  • John Milton
  • Of Reformation
  • Poetry
  • Republican Puritanism
  • Scripture


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