Why Every Christian Needs to Read "Paradise Regained"
IT'S Satan vs. Jesus, in epic poem form
By Revelation Solate
1. JESUS OBLITERATES SATAN IN MULTIPLE DEBATES
It's the definitive retelling of the story of the temptation of Jesus, Satan vs. Jesus, in John Milton's 1671 epic poem Paradise Regained.
The book is actually a sequel to Milton's more famous epic poem Paradise Lost, which tells in painstaking detail the entire story of the Fall of Man, from Lucifer's rebellion to our original ancestors getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
In Regained, we see Satan return to his usual tricks after a bittersweet success over man. This time, the Prince of Hell decides to take on Jesus while the only begotten Son fasts in the wilderness for 40 days. The ambitious angel refuses to give up, which makes us sort of root for God's once-favored seraph.
But since we already know that Jesus wins, the journey on which Milton takes us is about the specific details of Jesus' win over temptation. And while Regained is a tough read, watching Jesus destroy Satan in straw-man-less theological debate is worth the intellectual price of admission.
2. It has an epic audioBOOK FREE on Youtube (feat. EMPEROR Palpatine as Satan)
The two-hour listen takes up like two episodes of "The Bachelorette", which you should probably stop watching anyways. And, again, the audiobook of Regained is a lot shorter than its nine-hour sister poem Paradise Lost. Good for the mind and soul, the dramatized reading-- expertly produced by BBC-- features Ian McDiarmid as the vile, conniving caw of Satan. You probably know the voice actor best as Emporer Palpatine of Facebook meme or Star Wars prequel-trilogy fame.
3. YOU'LL END UP ROOTING... FOR... SATAN?
You would be hard-pressed to find a better written villain than Milton's Satan, who is more diabolical than Darth Vader, Heath Ledger's Joker, Light Yagami, and the new Erik Killmonger combined. He is the ultimate tragedy; He's the Prince of Hell, after all. He's a dogged badass that you just can't help but root for. Spoiler alert: empathizing with the Devil makes you feel a certain type of way.
Actually, Milton's depiction of Satan is so good, convincing, and well-written that renowned English poet William Blake went so far as to claim that Milton "was of the devil's party without knowing it".
4. It is theologically perfect
Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained are as theologically sound as any orthodox Christian can get. The texts include now-controversial claims about the roles of men and women in God's eyes, and about how God is supreme. So, in other words, it's oppressive conservative propaganda.
But truly, if you are looking for Biblically-sound fiction, you can't get any closer than the "Paradise" series. You learn a lot about the natures of God, Jesus, Satan, and humanity, and the books serve as Holy Grails of Christian doctrine, full of spiritually-revitalizing thought that any pastor would do well to bring to modern pulpits.
5. It is basically the "Bible Cinematic Universe" done right
Perhaps the coolest thing about Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained is that they are just fleshed-out versions of familiar Biblical stories. The source material is completely retained (see the point above), but where the Bible gives us an inch, Milton gives us a mile.
The books really do feel like the cannon Bible Extended Universe, or like bonus features that had to be cut from the stories we all know and love.
Let's just say, if you're looking for Biblical fan-fiction, you're better off ignoring that PureFlix Samson movie, and just reading Paradise Regained.
6. IT IS VERY SHORT, AND CAN SERVE AS AN APPETIZER FOR MILTON'S EPIC, "PARADISE LOST"
If you have ever wondered how exactly Satan fell from Heaven, how exactly Lucifer became The Devil, and how exactly Satan tempted Eve, Paradise Lost is your book. Hell, if you want to know why angels can't die, Paradise Lost is your book. It's just that detailed, and just that good. Paradise Lost truly is one of the greatest literary achievements of mankind (there are many debates on whether Shakespeare or Milton was the greater writer).
But here is the problem: Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained are both written in very old English (written in 1667 and 1671, respectively), and Lost is like 500 pages long. Suffice it to say, they are dense reads.
But there is hope! Regained is less than 100-pages, and you get the same great anti-hero Satan combating our Lord and Savior in the wilderness while Jesus is fasting. And if you like the taste of Regained, you're definitely going to want to read the origin story.
7. Seriously, JUST read this excerpt.
When Satan tempts Jesus with the prospects of fame and glory over all the Earth, Jesus replies with this absolutely monstrous #clapback:
He ask’d thee, hast thou seen my servant Job?
Famous he was in Heaven, on Earth less known;
Where glory is false glory, attributed
To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame.
They err who count it glorious to subdue
By Conquest far and wide, to over-run
Large Countries, and in field great Battels win,
Great Cities by assault: what do these Worthies,
But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable Nations, neighbouring, or remote,
Made Captive, yet deserving freedom more
Then those thir Conquerours, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe’re they rove,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,
Then swell with pride, and must be titl’d Gods,
Great Benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,
Worship’t with Temple, Priest and Sacrifice;
One is the Son of Jove, of Mars the other,
Till Conquerour Death discover them scarce men,
Rowling in brutish vices, and deform’d,
Violent or shameful death thir due reward.
But if there be in glory aught of good,
It may by means far different be attain’d
Without ambition, war, or violence;
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance; I mention still
Him whom thy wrongs with Saintly patience born,
Made famous in a Land and times obscure;
Who names not now with honour patient Job?
Now please, go read or listen to Paradise Regained. You won't regret it.