Gilmour, Nathan Patrick
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Poetic and dramatic texts always stand in conversation with a larger world of letters, and in the English Renaissance, certain texts answer questions that theological and philosophical texts ask with an attention to sequence and contingency that advance rather than merely comment upon the projects that the discourses share. The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare's Roman plays and The Rape of Lucrece, and Milton's Biblical epics set the stage for theologians to pay genuine attention to the mediated character of all religious tradition, to the opacity and textuality of human will, and to the obscurity of evil in ways that standard theological polemics often neglect. Moreover, as Milton's Paradise Regained demonstrates, the theological discipline of Christology has much to learn from the ways that a narrative poem situates Christ, always poised between the inadequate possibilities that the wilderness temptations represent and always performing His way into the role "Son of God." Ultimately, because certain modern theological traditions continue the practices of putting sequence in the foreground and improvising within the bounds of tradition, some theologians have the potential to contribute to literary criticism in ways that return the favor that plays and poems first granted.