Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2013


Recent scholarship on John Milton argues that Milton rejected the popular Reformation understanding of Christ's atonement, the penal-substitutionary theory of atonement, and that Milton was uncomfortable with the Crucifixion of Jesus as God's means of human salvation. A close reading of Milton's Paradise Lost and De Doctrina Christiana clearly shows, however, that Milton did in fact embrace the penal-substitutionary theory of atonement, and he believed that Jesus' death on the cross effected this atonement. Milton's decision not to dwell on the cross or the details of the crucifixion in his poetry does not manifest a rejection of the cross as God's means of effecting atonement.


Originally published as:

“Milton’s Theology of the Cross: Substitution and Satisfaction in Christ’s Atonement.” Christianity & Literature 63.1 (Autumn 2013): 5-25.