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"Most fit for a wounded conscience": the place of Luther's "Commentary on Galatians" in Grace Abounding.

After a score of years, filled with fear and trembling and temptations, which were so terrible that - note well! - scarcely one individual in each generation experiences . . . this as Luther did.

- Kierkegaard

Many critics of John Bunyan's Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, perhaps embarrassed by the rawness and repetitive misery of his lived experience,"(1) have structured Bunyan's obsessive vacillations between hope and despair through identifying conventional stages in his autobiography, as if the intensity of Bunyan's narrative might be contained by placing him within a set of literary or theological conventions. Patricia Caldwell questions this critical focus on "thought" and doctrine, noting that "it is almost as if the literary people themselves are taking their cue from the Puritans themselves" by denying the affective power of a text which appears to follow conventional stages.(2) Bunyan, however, towers over the spiritual autobiographers in his day because of the changes he makes in the conventions he employs.(3) For Bunyan, conversion is not a point in time but a process which took years: he protracts the "conversion" stage of his autobiography into two-thirds of his text and correspondingly contracts the other stages of his account, narratively prolonging, in effect, his terror over election. This departure from convention is recognized as his genius in Grace Abounding. According to Dean Ebner, "he portrayed the psychology of self-deception, of sudden self-consciousness, of moral sensitivity, of despair, alienation, obsession and indecision."(4) Less understood, however, is how it came to be that Bunyan permitted himself the scrupulous and agonized rendition of his alternating mental states. How indeed does Bunyan permit himself what so many of his contemporaries do not? Anna Trapnel, for one, writes: "I could speak much concerning the time of my sorrow, or my terrors and perplexities, and sore plunges but my desire now is rather to tell you of my freedom, unto which I now hasten."(5) Bunyan's autobiography highlights the exhausted "expressive possibilities" within the writings of his contemporaries whose replication of experience he critiques.(6) He seeks their pardon for his indifference but the force of his repudiation is clear: "[F]or those who had writ in our days, I thought (but I desire them now to pardon me) that they had writ only that which others felt, or else had, thorow the strength of their wits and parts, studied to answer such objections as they perceived others were perplexed with, without themselves going down into the deep" (GA, 129). These remarks convey something of what Roger Sharrock has called Bunyan's "extraordinary loneliness."(7) But they also render problematic his affinity with the experiences narrated and preached in his day. Apprehensive about imitation bereft of authentic encounter, he senses the emotional desert of studying what others felt or of contriving through "wits and parts" what they might require. Such patterning of conversion cannot usher a descent to the "deep." Bunyan longs to see some "ancient Godly man's experience." Here he turns to Martin Luther: "Well, after many such longings in my mind, the God in whose hands are all our days and ways, did cast into my hand, one day, a book of Martin Luther, his comment on the Galatians, so old that it was ready to fall piece from piece, if I did but turn it over . . . when I had but a little way perused, I found my condition in his experience so largely and profoundly handled, as if his book had been written out of my own heart; this made me marvel: for thus thought I, this man could not know anything of the state of Christians now, but must needs write and speak of the experience of former days" (GA, 129). My argument is that the genius unfolded in Bunyan's narrative of conversion is fostered by his embrace of a more authentic - because more original - testimony in Martin Luther's A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.(8) Luther's Commentary gives Bunyan a precedent and therefore a place for the intimate and elaborate disclosure of his conscience.

In many ways Bunyan's whole culture had prepared him to recognize Luther as a kind of ur-text to his autobiography and to his life (his copy of the book had after all been read to pieces). There is a Protestant "family resemblance" patterned in Luther's famous depressions: "The content of [Luther's] depressions was always the same . . . 'For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost, I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.'" Episodes of this kind "entered into the standard emotional repertoire of seventeenth-century spiritual autobiography."(9) And it is precisely this repertoire which Bunyan found so "soporific."(10) The paradox is striking. Bunyan distinguishes himself from his otherwise "unremembered class" of spiritual autobiographers who follow the stages set by Luther's paradigm by fathoming the psychological as well as theological tradition to which he is heir.(11) To the extent that such a stage of terror becomes "conventional" to seventeenth-century autobiography, Bunyan's embrace of Luther's testimony constitutes his attempt to locate it in a "nonarbitrary experience."(12) He testifies to Luther's tradition by preaching "what I felt, what I smartingly did feel" (GA, 276). It is feeling, or authentic inward experience, that Bunyan can recognize in Luther but not in his contemporaries. Those who have seen the Lord and seen the depths of their own depravity can recognize each other's voice: "[N]either durst he ever have used the same [voice] himselfe, had not great experience and exercise of conscience by inward conflicts and profound agonies framed him thereunto, and ministered to him, both his knowledge of spirit and boldnesse of speech."(13) Dayton Haskin approaches Bunyan's debt to Martin Luther as an unwitting rivalry with a spiritual forefather in which Bunyan's fruitful fantasy of originality allows him to mask his origins. Even Bunyan's acknowledgment of Luther is used only to corroborate his own experience - since he did not recognize all that is "typical, stereotyped and inherited in his own story."(14) I understand Bunyan's tribute to Luther differently. We do not read Bunyan for the plot. In Grace Abounding Bunyan gives us an "anatomy of human terror" unmatched by his contemporaries. In locating the originating impulse of the great reformer, Bunyan finds not "anxiety of influence" so much as human sympathy.(15) Bunyan is humble before Martin Luther as before no other human writer. "I must let fall before all men, I do prefer this book of Martin Luther upon the Galatians, excepting the Holy Bible, before all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience" (GA, 131).(16) I intend here to suggest why this is so and how it is that Bunyan inscribes Luther into his own conversion account. Luther's witness does not just "influence" Bunyan's conversion, but in effect permits Bunyan to release his own extraordinary testimony No matter how industriously we embed Bunyan in the rhetoric of his contemporaries or impute to him the reigning theology of his class, the fact remains that Bunyan felt quite alienated from his fellows - "extraordinarily lonely." In Luther's Commentary he finds a kind of revelation, next only to the Bible in its impact.

Wayne Baker persuasively argues that Bunyan was one of a small minority of seventeenth-century English Nonconformists who held to Luther's doctrine of justification and sanctification by faith alone. "[B]y 1700 those who still held to sola fides, sola gratia were in a small minority," he writes. "The influence of Luther and adherence to his meaning of justification . . . slowly but surely had been eroded among the English clergy in the space of one century." The Antinomian scare which Baker shows as overtaking leading nonconformists such as Richard Baxter and Daniel Williams also led to an implicit rejection of Luther's teachings about the law and the gospel Bunyan's assent to Luther's doctrines ultimately brought upon himself the charges of being a Ranter, a Quaker and an Antinomian. Edward Fowler, for instance, in 1672 accused Bunyan of being "as rank and Ranting an Antinomian as ever foul'd paper [because he] takes Faith . . . for nothing else but a bare relying on the merits of the righteousness of Christ."(17) Bunyan is very sensitive to such accusations. While he is attracted to the unmediated accessibility of the Holy Spirit espoused by much radical theology of the day, he is repelled by the quagmire of subjectivity and sin which follows upon the believer's distancing of the guardian force of the scriptures.(18) But Bunyan will face down all accusations rather than abandon what Richard Greaves some time ago identified as the central "motivation" of his theology, clearly enunciated in his autobiography, namely, Luther's doctrine of the law and grace.(19) That motivation is inextricably linked to the Commentary's affective appeal. Bunyan's ultimate progress in his career as theologian, allegorist, preacher, polemicist and poet is predicated upon the insight, indeed the revelation, of Luther's testimony. His autobiography is experientially foundational to his later creative flourishing.

Michael Walzer articulates the power of Luther's testimony on subsequent generations by contrasting his impact and inheritance with that of Calvin. The witness of Luther draws men to him, while Calvin confers "system":

From the appearance of the Institutes in 1536, it is possible to speak only of Calvinism, and in fact the man himself would have considered this self-effacement as a most godly achievement . . . For Lutherans, the private feelings and the mystical experiences of the German reformer must be of great importance; they seek to regain his religious condition, to relive something of his ordeal in order to achieve something like his faith.

These generalizations suggest why Bunyan turned with such relief to Luther: "For Luther was surely closer to the human root of the problems that agitated men; he alone had the temerity to live out the great dilemma of authority and masterlessness, anxiety and justification. Driven by the extraordinary difficulties of his private life he produced a theology that dramatized the most extreme religious experiences." Distinguishing between Luther's theology of grace and Calvin's "doctrine of discipline," Walzer observes that "nor was Calvin sympathetic to men tormented by the problem of salvation: the clear probability, he believed, was that they were not saved."(20) Was it one such Calvinist who, when sought by a despairing Bunyan for counsel, effectively damned him? "About this time," Bunyan wrote, "I took an opportunity to break my mind to an ancient Christian; and told him all my case. I told him also that I was afraid that I had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost; and he told me. He thought so too." Here, Bunyan remarks drily, "I had but cold comfort" (GA, 180). He concludes charitably that this false counselor was a "stranger to much combat with the devil" - a position which Luther's record of deep wrestling with Satan would belie. Luther gives Bunyan a language to describe and resolve his terror in much the same way that the Bedford women give him a "pleasant language" to interpret his sin and guilt. Like the Bedford women, Luther invokes inward experience throughout his writings to provide counsel to his audience: "But these times (of the Law and the Gospel, I mean) are in a Christian as touching the affections and the inward man" (CG, 368). Luther's whole personality is involved in the quest for a right relationship with a righteous God. He insists that "living, or rather dying and being damned make a theologian, not understanding, reading or speculating."(21) Love, joy, hatred, despair, blasphemy - these are the agents of his insights and these radiate from his exegesis to illuminate Bunyan's pilgrimage. The power of Luther's Commentary is that it addresses the inextricable relation of the believer's feeling and his or her faith. I am not suggesting, of course, that Luther makes no appeal to the intellect, any more than I am suggesting that Bunyan ignores doctrine. I am pointing out that in Grace Abounding it is affective intensity which grounds Luther's testimony and which helps resolve Bunyan's despair.(22)


Luther speaks often of "blasphemy, desperation and the like" - Bunyan's lifelong temptations. He identifies for Bunyan affective states which accompany these temptations. He provides an explanation for their origins. And Bunyan, it must be noted, uses experience - "considering and watching" - to test Luther's claims.(23) Luther, he writes, "doth most gravely . . . debate the rise of these temptations, namely, blasphemy, desperation and the like; showing that the law of Moses as well as the devil, death and hell hath a very great hand therein, the which at first was very strange to me; but considering and watching, I found it so indeed" (GA, 130). The sinner, says Luther, who feels crushed under the law feels a "special hatred" of the Lord; he wishes "that there were no God"; he "must needs fall into hatred of God and blasphemy against God" (CG, 244). Bunyan's boyhood was spent in fantasies of joining the devils in hell as a tormentor rather than be tormented himself for his sins (GA, 7); even as an adult preacher he is urged to regale his congregation with curses (GA, 293). But Bunyan's greatest blasphemy and the blasphemy which Luther most roundly condemns is the desperation of one who clings to his despair despite all assurances to the contrary of grace and forgiveness.(24) Deep into his conversion narrative, Bunyan becomes enslaved to his obsessive conviction that he has "sold his Savior," exceeding the betrayal of both Peter and Judas. Like the disfavored son, Esau, he finds "no place of repentance." In a curious passage Bunyan's despair reaches what he acknowledges to be a "ridiculous" expression as he convinces himself that Christ has become so strange a figure that the Father must now become the mediator to the Son (GA, 181, 184). Such a fantasy is doctrinally ridiculous, for it is precisely the Father of the Old Covenant who requires the mediating sacrifice of the Son to be mollified and to usher in the New Covenant.(25) Why does Bunyan thus reverse the function, the family order, so to speak, of the Trinity? To hunt for doctrinal rationalization at such a moment is to ignore Bunyan's assessment of his own affective, indeed "ridiculous," extreme. Luther offers a psychology of such despair. He tells of one "Dr. Kraus of Halle, which said: 'I have denied Christ, and therefore he standeth now before his Father and accuseth.' He being blinded with the illusion of the devil, had so strongly conceived in his mind this imagination, that by no exhortation, no consolation, no promises of God, could he be brought from it; whereupon he despaired and so miserably destroyed himself" (CG, 146). Dr. Kraus, who prefers the "strange Christ" of his despair to the reconciling Christ of the scriptures, mirrors Bunyan's inclinations, including a wish for death (GA, 128). Luther's analysis reflects his abiding concern with distortions of Christ's nature: "This was a mere lie, a bewitching of the devil, and a fantastical definition of a strange Christ, whom the scripture knoweth not. For the scripture setteth forth Christ, not as a judge, a tempter, an accuser; but a reconciler, a mediator, a comforter, a savior" (CG, 146). Luther's resounding point is that man's visions of the accusing God derive from legalistic notions of attaining salvation by "good works." According to Luther, the law "rages and reigns" in the conscience where Christ should "rule and reign" (CG, 384, 388). The typical seventeenth-century pattern for conversion reflects this burden of the "law," invariably including a "legalistic" phase, consequent upon conviction of sin. This phase leads the believer even further into despair, inevitably confronting his or her inability to fulfill the law of God. Bunyan's account of this phase in his conversion experience echoes Luther's language; he longs for the release of his conscience from false dominion of the law so that "in that conscience where but just now did reign and rage the law, even there would rest and abide the . . . love of God thorow Christ" (CG, 127). Bunyan - who professed to have been in his profligate youth a great one for "uncleanness," dancing, sporting, bell-tolling and other village pleasures - finds even his body paralyzed by the strictures of his conscience. Richard Hooker satirizes such biblical legalists, whose naive dependency on the scriptures for every decision enforces an absurd divorce from reality. "Unless God from heaven did . . . show them what to do," he wrote, "they might do nothing, not eat, not drink, not sleep, not move"; they may not "take up a rush or a straw without the rule of scripture."(26) For Bunyan, the "law" of the scripture which, as Luther predicts, rages in his conscience is exactly this constricting. Hooker's parody becomes a real predicament for Bunyan. "But all this while as to the act of sinning, I never was more tender than now; I durst not take a pin or a stick, though but so big as a straw . . . I found myself as on a miry bog that shook if I did but stir" (GA, 82-83). And later, "I could neither eat my food, stoop for a pin, chop a stick, or cast my eye to look at this or that" (GA, 138). It is as though each believer must experience in small the flow of Christian typology. Each must try and fail at the project of the Old Testament in the attempt to live according to scriptural mandates, just as each must be distraught by his or her own shallow works and hardened heart, before, finally, appropriating the fulfillment of the law offered by the coming of Christ.

Luther's own autobiographical fragment outlines this pattern. The history of his monastic enslavement to the law and "works" precedes his acceptance of Christ's work - the "righteousness of God." His account of the anger, blasphemy, even madness which precedes his conversion opens up the patterns of Puritan autobiography:

Although I lived an unreproachable life as a monk, I felt that I was a sinner with an uneasy conscience before God . . . I did not love - in fact, I hated - that righteous God who punished sinners; I was angry with God, saying, 'As if it were not enough that miserable sinners should be eternally damned through original sin, with all kinds of misfortunes laid upon them by the Old Testament law, and yet God adds sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel, and even brings his wrath and righteousness to bear through it!' Thus I drove myself mad, with a desperate disturbed conscience, persistently pounding upon Paul in this passage [Romans 1:17], thirsting most ardently to know what he meant.

Luther is pummeling the scripture which directed him to his great work on the book of Romans: "the righteous shall live by faith." He wrenches the words of the scriptures until they yield up their meaning. The "righteousness of God" refers to a "passive righteousness by which the merciful God justifies us by faith." Luther's soteriological breakthrough centers around his realization that our righteousness is achieved - hidden - in Christ's work but that our ability to take hold of this gift is absolutely constricted by our sinful nature. Luther's doctrine of "imputed righteousness," then, expects and requires a total passivity on the believer's part. When Luther himself discovers this truth, all those scriptures which had formerly haunted him become invitations to joy because they assure him that God is the one who labors for humanity's sins. The language of condemnation becomes a language of liberation by a simple act of relinquishing. "Afterwards," he writes, "I ran through the scriptures, as from memory, and found the same analogy [of Christ's labor in man] in other phrases such as the 'work of God' (that which God works within us), the power of God (by which he makes us strong), 'the wisdom of God' (by which he makes us wise)."(27) The sinner thus may rejoice in his very helplessness.

Luther recognizes, however, that like Dr. Kraus, any believer might be rendered incapable of accepting grace by a continual thinking about his or her guilty condition. It was this, among Luther's other psychological formulations of Christian experience, that Bunyan must have read virtually as revelation. The guilt one bears for private thoughts (Bunyan's selling of Christ as a wish, an inner formula [GA, 139-40]) prevents grace, just as the familiar remedies of time and self-persuasion give Satan a foothold. Luther advises "the man that putteth not away the remembrance of his sin, but keepeth it still and tormenteth himself with his own cogitations - thinking either to help himself by his own strength or to tarry the time till his conscience may be quieted - falleth into Satan's snares and miserably afflicteth himself." By such formulations Luther inaugurates a psychology of the spiritual life that divides the believer from himself or herself. Self-scrutiny brings both conviction of sin and combat with Satan. Even God's Word, which should be the one true comfort in periods of self-despising, can turn from a resounding clarion to a clouded echo according to one's own subjectivity. Like Bunyan, Luther identifies the believer's "wrestling" with the scriptures as fundamental to the process of conversion. God's Word both crucifies and, in turn, recreates the self. While in the midst of this transformation, Luther wrestles between the law and grace, "for I know in what hours I sometimes wrestle. I know how often I suddenly lose the beams of . . . grace, as being shadowed from me with thick, dark clouds. But when in the very conflict we should use the Gospel, which is the Word of Grace . . . then doth the Law, the Word of wrath . . . preventeth the Gospel, and beginneth to rage" (CG, 45). Terrifying to Bunyan in his spiritual battle is the sense that his own subjectivity is out of his control, that he is possessed (GA, 102, 152). Whether in reading, praying or simply attending to the Word, he wrestles with forces stronger than his power to withstand: "[I]f I have been hearing the Word, then uncleanness, blasphemies, and despair would hold me as captive there; if I have been reading, then, sometimes . . . my mind would be . . . strangely snatched away . . . . In prayer, also, . . . I have thought I should see the devil, nay thought I have felt him, behind me pull my clothes" (GA, 106-07).

For both men, Satan is a formidable opponent, but he has a foothold for his scaling of their spirit only if he is given one. Luther rehearses the problem of man's subjectivity in relation to a God who is at once eternally Other and presently "indwelling." It is precisely the polarities of God (the Father, Son, and Spirit) and Satan (the Accuser) which animate the probings of the self found in both Luther and Bunyan. Both distinguish themselves through the scrupulous record they give of the depths of these extremes. But both see the plan of salvation and sanctification as perfect and immutable.(28) How, then, may they take hold of what is already given? This, the problem of Bunyan's protracted conversion years, is a "brittle matter": "Not of itself, for of itself it is most sure and certain, but in respect of us. Therefore, in respect of us, it is a very brittle matter, because we are brittle" (CG, 45). The promises of salvation are not apprehended by working but by believing. "But faith requireth no works of us . . . but that we believing the promises of God, should receive of him" (CG, 209) This kind of belief is not primarily cognitive; it is not learned, and for those who take eternity seriously, it is not manufactured according to "convention" It entails an affective authenticity: a relinquishing of self and a trust in an invisible, unmediated God who can be imaged only through the very human, paternal figurations of the scriptures. Such belief Bunyan finds unapproachably "brittle": it forces within the battle to be holy and acceptable to God (GA, 37-52).

When this burden constitutes belief, one ends up mapping one's shifting states of mind. The "office of faith is to assent to the promises" (CG, 209) but, paradoxically, it does enforce, in Bunyan as in Luther, a "work" of the inner soul in charting the process of spiritual surrender. This surrender of the old life requires a violent self-routing which both Bunyan and Luther describe as a transitional period of emptiness. Luther proposes that the way into new life is to know "nothing" but the Word. The sinner who has felt the reality of his or her state and who is "dead" in sin must chose between knowledge of the new self through the Word and, simply, nothingness. "Wherefore, let the afflicted conscience think upon nothing, know nothing, set nothing against the judgement of God, but the Word of Christ" (CG, 88). He later warns that, once awakened, the soul is more vulnerable than ever to the "terrible roarings" of the devil who stalks the believer's soul like a hungry lion. "Against these horrible and intolerable cries, we have nothing whereupon to stay ourselves, but the bare Word" (CG, 303). Bunyan's blasphemy similarly seizes his spirit, suggesting things "which I may not, nor dare not utter, [which] . . . did so overweigh my heart . . . that I felt as if there was nothing else but these from morning to night within me; and as though, indeed, there could be room for nothing else" (GA, 33). Bunyan's victimization by all the forces of heaven and earth virtually illustrates Luther's admonition. Images of himself in passive, sinking, limp and emptied conditions can be found on almost every page.(29) One typical passage will suffice to illustrate his feeling of entrapment:

Thus, by the strange and unusual assaults of the tempter, was my soul, like a broken vessel, driven as with the winds, and tossed sometimes headlong into despair, sometimes upon the covenant of works, and sometimes [driven] to wish that the new covenant . . . might, so far forth as I thought myself concerned, be turned another way and changed. Oh! The unthought of imaginations . . . fears and terrors that are affected by a thorough applications of guilt yielded to desperation. (GA, 186)

The New Covenant of grace is more painful than the Old because it requires that the sinner go through the old self to embrace the new, in Christ. Luther's doctrine of justification by faith demands a loss of self; as Alistair McGrath writes, "It is only by being forced into recognizing one's total unworthiness - even to the point of total contempt and hatred of oneself - that justification comes about. For Luther, a prayer to God for judgment is a prayer for total humiliation."(30) In terms useful to an understanding of Protestant conversion, W.W. Meisner makes a connection between Kierkegaard's description of the "resignation" of the unauthentic self through faith, and the psychoanalytic objective of surrendering the pathological self for an integrated identity, through insight. Transformation is often anguished and protracted; reluctantly does one resign familiar psychic images. "The patient mobilizes powerful resistances to surrendering this precious sense of himself because it is his self, it is the only self he has ever known."(31) The resistance to "resignation" or the giving over to grace so striking in Bunyan's temptations is rooted in an attachment to the very structures which have inhibited him. His blasphemy, for instance, is a source of great shame and social ostracism, yet his obscene eloquence provides him with authority: "I knew not how to speak unless I put an oath before, and another behind, to make my words have authority." To surrender such sense of self, even though it be a damned self, for Bunyan means embracing an invisible God. When he is confronted by the Gospel language of real authority in the Bedford women, Bunyan feels outside their discourse ("I heard but understood not" [GA, 37]). Yet he longs to participate in their communion, specifically in the language which has re-constituted their identity when they speak of the "new birth." His worldly eloquence is as emptied of meaning as is the self which that language had constructed. Paul's figuring of the new self - born not of the flesh but of the spirit, yet still bound by the habitation of the old self until glorification - is rooted in paradox and a kind of psychic impossibility. The anguish of men like Luther and Bunyan - and many believers - is that the lived experience of this paradox enforces a terrifying abjection, as the old self must be both rejected and retained, the new self both embraced and anticipated.(32) Now, as Luther would have it, between himself and the abyss of nothingness "sitteth" only the Word of God, a new language of selfhood. Yet as Bunyan laments, "they had as good have told me that I must reach the sun with my finger as have bidden me receive or rely on the promises; and as soon as I should have done it, all my sense and feeling was against me" (GA, 79).

"Herein standeth all the difficulty," according to Luther. The problem is taking hold of the promise with sense and feeling, "for Christ appeareth to no sense. We see him not: the heart feeleth not his presence or succor in temptation" (CG, 302). In the heat of temptation Bunyan longs for some touch so that he may, like Thomas, silence all doubts. The remoteness of Christ's flesh conjures a fierce image of Bunyan's own feeling of bodily torture. "If now I should have burned at the stake I could not believe that Christ had love for me; alas, I could neither hear him, nor see him, nor feel him, nor savour any of his things" (GA, 78). In the meantime, as Luther predicts, he "feeleth the fiery darts of the devil," he hears the devil "cry out horribly," and "see[s] nothing else but . . . eternal death" (CG, 302). This is "deep" combat with the devil and with the self. The believer truly cannot "believe" his or her eyes, or any other of the senses. Conversion requires a radical mistrust of the faculties familiarly relied upon; sense and feeling are suspect. Luther's design is to render such personal abjection itself into a sign of immanent grace. "Wherefore when thou sayest I am a sinner, thou dost not terrify me, but comfort me above measure" (CG, 21). But for Bunyan, feeling forgiven and saved hardly come as naturally as despair. Almost in direct proportion as his hunger for the feeling of Christ's presence rages, so the devil floods his senses. The devil is at home in the world, in the territory of what Paul calls the "old man" (I Corinthians 5:17). Familiar ground, the world itself, becomes not a friendly habitation but an alien place peopled by demons: "Nay, we think . . . that the heavens thunder and the earth tremble, that all will fall upon us, that all creatures threaten our destruction, that hell is open and ready to swallow us up . . . this horrible show we hear and we see" (Luther, 303, cf. GA, 157). Bunyan's dreams seem drawn from such predictions; in them the pleasant places, the gardens of earthly delights are turned in one stroke into hell-holes. In one instance, "[h]e dreamed that he was in a pleasant place . . . when a mighty earth quake suddenly rent the earth, and made a wide gap, out of which came bloody flames and the figures of men tossed up in globes of fire . . . whilst some devils that were mingled with them laughed aloud at their torments; and whilst the earth sunk under him, and the circle of flames enclosed him."(33)

From such nightmares the Holy Spirit rescues the believer by enabling him or her to utter the one cry that, according to Luther, will still the hellish noise. Only the affective image of a good father can reverse such dread. "But yet in the midst of these . . . roarings of the devil, the Holy Ghost . . . crieth out in our hearts, 'Abba Father.' And this cry far surmounteth the horrible cries of the law, sin, death and the devil etc., it pierceth the clouds and the heavens, and ascendeth up to the ears of God" (CG, 302). According to Bunyan's similarly affective metaphors, the believer is like a child fallen into a mill-pit, or a infant kidnapped under the skirts of a dark gypsy, in need of a rescuing father (GA, 102, 198). Bunyan's renderings of absolute dependency, answered only by absolute deliverance, resonate with Luther's theology and from the affective testimony that images the theology. Luther's appeal to faith is empowered by tireless repetition - "I do so often repeat, and not without tediousness do still beat into your heads" (CG, 255) - derived from his recognition of deeply human needs.

Luther inspires both the imaginations and the emotions of his readers in ways Bunyan found both liberating and paradigmatic. Luther's doctrine of the law and grace articulates itself in the living image of the Father, the one whose transformation from Judge to Savior centers all doctrine - old and new - in his being. God can only rescue the believer from helpless torment, however, if he is imagined to be a merciful Father. Luther addresses the emotive reality of the soul's response to God as a means of freeing the channel of personal communication. To do this he attacks the law, demeaning the image of God-as-judge in order to offer a merciful Savior. These are, precisely, the rival images - judge or savior - which spar for the spoils of Bunyan's troubled conscience. If God is merciful, then Bunyan is forgiven, but if he is angry - a judge - then Bunyan, like Esau, is lost forever. The crucial point here is that Luther answers the uncertainty which can paralyze a believer in two ways: first by repeatedly advancing the mercies of God and secondly by pressing the importance of trust. Luther insists that the only way for the believer to attain certainty is through an affective response based not on unreliable subjectivity, but on an experience of Christ's intervention. Belief is surrender. Feeling must be faced and overcome by faith: "But thou wilt say, I feel not myself to have any righteousness, or, at the least, I feel it but very little. Thou must not feel, but believe that thou hast righteousness" (CG, 389; see also 387-90). To the individual made miserable by conviction of sin and his shifting perceptions, Luther offers an immutable and intervening Christ. Only by breaking out of the cycles of the uncertain self can the sinner hope to believe. Only by trusting in the Spirit's power to utter "Abba Father" from within can the sinner's enclosed autonomy be penetrated by Christ's love.


U. Milo Kaufmann's classic study of Bunyan in the context of Puritan meditative traditions reviews the Puritan divines' preference for doctrine, the rationalistic logos over the imaginative mythos. Puritan exegesis "should concern itself with words and their logical implications rather than with images and their evocations and associations."(34) He suggests, however, that by the time Bunyan was writing The Pilgrim's Progress, an alternative strain of meditative tradition was recuperating the place of the mythos in Puritan devotions. Bunyan's allegory reflects a wedding of affective and rationalistic impulses which was not possible for him in Grace Abounding.(35) I would emphasize that we do not see in Grace Abounding such a confident reconciliation between the word and the world precisely because the affective basis of such a reconciliation is itself being worked out in the pages of this autobiography. For all of Bunyan's resolution in The Pilgrim's Progress of the conflict between the word and the thing, and for all of the stunning originality that conflict fosters in his allegory, the fact remains that his experience of the scriptures, his imagination, and his world in Grace Abounding was fraught with terror and anxiety. Grace Abounding enacts the tensions between image and doctrine characteristic of Puritan culture at large. This tension is personally crippling to Bunyan whose mind was torn from thinking on God by the tantalizing images of "a bull, a bush, a besom" (GA, 108). Puritan culture's dominant suspicion of the imagination and the affections left Bunyan bereft of the atmosphere he needed to resolve his conversion crisis.(36) Here again, his turn to the older witness in Luther provides Bunyan the context he needs to come to this resolution. The pressing point is that Bunyan's conversion, his anguished and originary experience of the Word in Grace Abounding, is foundational to the creative flourishing he comes to enjoy in his subsequent writings. His reconciliation of the word and the thing in The Pilgrim's Progress is fundamentally indebted to the personal resolution he chronicles in his spiritual autobiography. While it is, of course, Bunyan's direct and immediate response to the figurative language of the Bible that finally educates his imagination (as Bunyan's preface to The Pilgrim's Progress makes plain, dream vision, allegory, metaphor and all other tropes find their justification in the Word) the point to stress here is that in Bunyan's conversion years Luther provides him a way to submit to the operations of biblical language, a way into the language of faith. Without such a breakthrough experience, the other "influences" on Bunyan's development as both pastor and poet simply would not have been possible. Bunyan's conflict with the Word, the conflict which consumes Grace Abounding, is negotiated by the resolution offered by the affective power of Luther's language. Luther's providential ministry helps Bunyan to see - and read - Christ, the Word, with new eyes.

In some senses Bunyan sidesteps the Puritan conflict over the word and the thing by identifying his testimony with Luther's witness in the Galatians Commentary. "The Puritan," according to Kaufmann, "was not likely to meditate upon events in the life of Christ but rather upon the doctrines or specific propositions in scripture."(37) By placing himself within the context of Luther's example, Bunyan may partake of that moderate stance on Reformation iconoclasm espoused by Luther who "insisted that on the evidence of Scripture, images were, doctrinally, a matter of indifference since God has given neither commands nor prohibitions binding on us." Luther thus defines the position that would, according to Ernest Gilman, "later be made available to moderate Anglicans such as John Donne who sought the 'true use of pictures to worship.'" Luther understood and indeed advanced the use of images as aids to the understanding of the scriptures. According to Gilman, pictures were to him "no different from the preacher's word or from the sacraments themselves - all of them 'outward' material signs, more or less efficacious, as God might will, toward the inner working of the Holy Spirit."(38) The Protestant poetic similarly allowed an inward place or a mental picture to "safely substitute for painted devotional pictures" of Catholic worship, though it is that very mental image which comes to be suspect by such "iconoclasts" as William Ames, who identifies in metaphoric language a kind of "obscene coupling" and fornication.(39)

The moderate stance in the "iconoclastic controversy" generally espoused by Luther leads him in the Galatians Commentary to instruct his reader in the right use of mental pictures - the imaging of the historical Christ. The human life of Christ on earth is advanced in Luther's Commentary as a bridge for the sinner to Jesus. Here again, Bunyan finds in Luther opportunity to diverge from strict Puritan tendencies. He settles, for instance, his question about the manhood of Christ (raised ironically by the Quaker doctrine of the inner light) by "evidence" from heaven, given through a scriptural vision (GA, 122). And he is "orderly" led into a vision of Christ's life and "I was as if I had seen him born, as if I had even seen him grow up, as if I had seen him walk thorow this world, from the cradle to the cross; to which also, when he came, I saw how gently he gave himself to be hanged and nailed on it for my sins" (GA, 120). By such visions, perhaps, Bunyan reflects Luther's guidance: "Therefore begin thou where Christ began, namely, in the womb of the virgin, in the manger, and at his mother's breasts, etc. For to this end he came down, was born, was conversant among men, suffered, was crucified, and died, that by all means he might set forth himself plainly before our eyes" (CG, 14). It is his vision of Christ's life and ministry which ultimately resolves Bunyan's conversion. He has a vision one day as he was passing in a field: "[S]uddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, Thy righteousness is in heaven; and methought withal, I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ, at God's right hand; there, I say, is my righteousness" (GA, 229). His sight of the Savior enables Bunyan to break out of the endless shuttle between hope and despair. "I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my sad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ, 'the same yesterday, today, forever' (Heb. xiii:8)" (GA, 229). This vision, clearly reminiscent of Luther's "language and thought" in the Commentary, has been identified by Bunyan critics as the "climax" of Bunyan's struggle with temptation and as the "zenith" and the "goal" of his conversion.(40) Luther's testimony urges such a resolution of the problem of the sinner's subjectivity through his repeated assurances that Christ's nature is as unchanging as the sinner's is uncertain. But the force of Luther's testimony is finally in the image he provides for Bunyan's resolution; this is what permits Bunyan finally to take hold of the promise he has intellectually or rationally "known" all along but which was, for all of that, as distant from him as the sun. What gives the image this power?

William Kerrigan identifies the Puritan conflict between doctrine and image as partaking of an essential divide between prophecy and law:

These two essential attitudes toward sacred language, the legal and the prophetic, divide Augustine from Pseudo-Dionysius, Erasmus from Luther, Anglican Bishops from Puritan enthusiasts. In each case the radical issue is whether the meaning of the Bible can be fixed, or whether instead the Bible forever anticipates a novel future, open to a widening horizon of interpreters who "assimilate its significance to that of their own creation."

Kerrigan locates in Milton's creations a dramatization of this divide, so that his discursive reason produced De doctrina while his imagination, "dwelling in symbols" produced Paradise Lost. This dialectic of prophesy and law, as Kerrigan puts it, is not limited to the past; it is present in the very ways we conceive of metaphor. "Tradition is decisive for the meaning of dead metaphors. By their very anomaly, good metaphors are prophetic - troublers of stability. Bursting through system, they anticipate the future of an interpreter whose reflections they occasion."(41) Barbara Stafford recognizes the same power in "metaphorology." She connects metaphor with the affective and the physical. Her claims for the disruptive, indeed revolutionary, impact of image speak to the transformative power of metaphors both personally and historically: "Their imagistic and corporeal action created a conspicuous physical disturbance within the common run of customary signification . . . It was precisely the normalcy of narrative that was disrupted by the brusque and abnormal insertion of a spatial picture or palpable foreign body into the temporal stream of the text."(42)

Such claims for the operation of metaphor resonate with the affective impact of Luther's figurative language on Bunyan's imagination. Most powerfully, Luther's repeated elaborations upon the biblical analogy of the "marriage" of Christ in the Galatians Commentary offer Bunyan a metaphor with which to conceive of his own union with Christ. With a daring and aplomb that Bunyan in the early and anguished years of his Christian life must have found positively riveting, Luther pushes against a familiar picture of the Church as the "bride" of Christ to capture the full force of the sinner's passivity. "[M]an is passive towards the first grace, just as a woman is when she conceives. When grace is given to man, his role is not that of action, but rather of keeping still."(43) In the Galatians Commentary the metaphor of Christ the bridegroom of the church - as familiar and as ancient as the New Testament itself - is given a new application by Luther. Indeed, Luther's configuration of this trope inspires Bunyan's vision of Christ's righteousness, which, as we saw above, ushers in the resolution of his conversion. This image allows him to "see" both Christ and himself in a new way. The final power of Luther's figuration of the domains of the law and grace in the anatomy of the believer, for Bunyan, then, is that it offers not systematically, but suggestively, a place for the demands of the flesh.

Luther elaborates upon the familiar biblical metaphor of Christ the bridegroom in one of his countless explications of the believer's enslavement to the law. Confronted with the affliction of the conscience when burdened with the demands of the law, Luther determines that the law has no place at all in the conscience. In a sort of drama of the flesh and the spirit, Luther anatomizes the human being, designating domains with their appropriate "rulers." He sets down the respective dominions of mind and body: the law is lord of the flesh, Christ master of the conscience. His metaphoric elaboration upon this resolution of the relation between the law and grace within the Christian is explicitly connubial:

Let not Moses therefore with his laws . . . ascend up into the bride-chamber there to lie, that is to say, to reign in the conscience . . . That is, let the law have dominion over the body and over the old man . . . let the law limit and prescribe . . . how he ought to live and govern himself among men. But let it not defile the bed in which Christ should rest and sleep alone: that is to say, let it not trouble the conscience. For she alone ought to live with Christ her spouse in the Kingdom of liberty. (CG, 310-11)

The "bed" of one's conscience is the resting place for Christ, the center of the Word's fruition. The seed of the Word is sown in the soul; it does not return void (Isaiah 55:10,11). The image of the Word's penetration of the resisting conscience reaches its full figuration in this metaphor of the bridegroom: "For that queen and spouse may not be defiled with the law, but must be kept without spot for her only husband, Christ . . . Let the conscience have her bride-chamber . . . in which let Christ lie, and there rule and reign, who doth not terrify sinners . . . but comforteth them" (CG, 88). Luther's robustly connubial imagery invites us to consider how it might have helped Bunyan to accept, endure, and ultimately enjoy the passivity incumbent upon the believer. According to Luther's formulation, the mind of the believer becomes Christ's bride, assuming the feminine posture. Such a metaphor helps us to understand Bunyan's receptivity to the Word and his description of its impinging, penetrating, and even conceiving operations. Thus while the passivity of Bunyan in relation to the Word has in various contexts been observed as a kind of experiential corollary to Luther's doctrine of imputed righteousness, the affective experience of that passive posture has not been analyzed among Bunyan critics. In a recent study of the rhetorical culture of the New England Puritans, however, Ivy Schweitzer examines the "discursive deployment of the metaphor of the woman" in Puritan belief. She notes that the male believer, in his passive role as Christ's bride, has to "emasculate" himself for Christ while at the same time fulfill his earthly patrimony as the dominant male. The deployment of the metaphor of the woman appropriates to the male the woman's enviable power as child bearer. "To be born again is to be born of the Word, to be sons of an autogenic Father." Women's social and biological experiences become emblems of the saints' experience of God: "Even her 'breasts' are appropriated as emblems of the nurturing Gospels and the minsters who dispense the 'milk' of the Word." The important point for Bunyan's embrace of this metaphor in Grace Abounding is that the connubial fantasy enables his imaginative resolution of an otherwise "impossible" paradox of self-dividedness as he negotiates this very tension by dividing himself, head from body, flesh from spirit, heaven from earth.(44)

Caroline Walker Bynum's analysis of medieval renderings of Christ has contributed immensely to our understanding of the place of the feminine in Christian experience. Luther's elaboration on the biblical metaphor of the bride and bridegroom is illuminated by Bynum's review of the medieval saint's depiction of one's soul as the bride of Christ. Her generalizations are useful. "The [medieval] male writer who saw his soul as the bride of Christ or his religious role as womanly submission and humility was conscious of using an image of reversal," she writes. He sought reversal and renunciation as the signs of his earthly aspirations to lowliness before God.(45) But Luther, interestingly, himself reversed the renunciation and humiliation inscribed in medieval images of the believer's womanliness to embrace a more courtly idealization of the feminine. As we've seen, the believer's conscience for Luther is the embowered bride of Christ, a "lady and a queen" untouched by the lowly servitude of humiliation enacted by the law upon the flesh. Luther's appropriation of the biblical metaphor of Christ's marriage to the Christian's soul bespeaks his reformed stance and the doctrine of imputed righteousness which is its cornerstone. The work of humiliation and self-abnegation have no efficacy; the conscience of the Christian is a lady and a queen who, "keeping still," is taken by her Lord.

Luther's figure of the conscience and the body, with their separate domains and their separate lords, helps Bunyan to surrender to the lordship of Christ in his conscience. We have seen that the raging of the law in Bunyan's conscience enforced, he reports, a kind of physical paralysis in his daily life which finds a counterpart in his spiritual chronicle. "The John Bunyan who is described in Grace Abounding is a mind and a heart without a body," Mandel writes(46) It is such seeming absence of his body during the torments of Bunyan's conversion which testifies to his need for Luther's "anatomy" of belief. For the bulk of Grace Abounding, the scriptures themselves assume the entire physical prerogative. Bunyan "does" very little. It is the Word which acts, invades, directs; Bunyan's body, routinely imaged in chains and fetters (GA, 142-43), becomes the passive theatre for the scriptures impinging omnipotence.(47) Crucial to Bunyan's final resolution of his conversion is that he achieve a sense of the flesh's place in his own being.(48) Here Luther's formulation of the domains of the spirit and the body illuminates Bunyan's narrative. Luther provides the "tropologia" Bunyan needs to happily embower Christ in his conscience while entombing the law in his body. "What is [sin] . . . to me, O Law?" cries Luther, "[i]f thou wilt needs dispute with me as touching my sins, get thee to my flesh and members my servants: teach them, exercise and crucify them, but trouble not me, not conscience, I say, which am a lady and a queen, and have nothing to do with thee" (CG, 117). Luther's anatomy of the "parts" of the saint's participation in Christ offers Bunyan the metaphor by which to visualize - and actualize - both distance and dependence. Attending to Luther's prescription and phrasing, we see where Bunyan's final experience of bodily and spiritual union with Christ derive (CG, 233). It is the vision of Christ dwelling, self-contained, on the right hand of the father that enables Bunyan to re-member him, to see him entire instead of fragmented as when he was subjected to the blasphemous dismembering (e.g., GA, 183). The passage cited above as the climax of Bunyan's conversion is worth remembering in light of Luther's descriptions. It is the vision of Christ which Bunyan finds revelatory:

For by this scripture, I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as he [is] distinct from us, as touching his bodily presence, so he is our righteousness and sanctification before God: O methought Christ! There was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes. I was not only for looking upon this and the other benefit of Christ apart, as of his blood, burial, or resurrection, but considered him as a whole Christ! As he in whom all these . . . met together, and that as he sat on the right hand of God in Heaven. (GA, 231)

Bunyan glories in Christ's exaltation because now he can look "from myself to him" and reckon that the great disparity between the "gold" of Christ's righteousness and the paltry "pence and groats" of his own graces need not spell bankruptcy for his treasure in heaven. Christ, he sees, is his all: he partakes of that treasure, freely, yet without polluting it. Christ does not commune with the saint in his "bodily presence": this is what finally brings Bunyan to the end of his physical affliction ("Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed," GA, 230).(49) Luther provides him with a "theory" of the body and the conscience which frees guilt. Luther's teaching on these matters grows out of his doctrine of the law and grace. The law exerts its demands on the body. In the body the saved remain subject to sin - and to the law which checks sin - as ever before. And while Christ's bodily presence, since the resurrection, cannot be "savoured," his spiritual presence can be embowered in the Christian's conscience. In the conscience, however, the saint must wrestle to break free of the law's incessant accusation. Luther's instruction is highly figurative, defining earth for physical drudgery, and heaven as the site of spiritual communion:

[I]f thy conscience be terrified with the sense and feeling of sin, think thus with thyself: thou art now remaining upon earth; there let the ass labour and travail; there let him serve and carry the burden that is laid upon him; that is to say, let the body with his members be subject to the law; But when thou mountest up into heaven, then leave the ass with his burden on the earth; for the conscience hath nothing to do with the law . . . or earthy righteousness.

The Gospel, Luther continues, is "in heaven and the law on Earth" (CG, 85); when the terror of the law strikes, the spirited dialogue which follows affirms the very self-division Bunyan will use to settle the "dashes on my conscience." Luther provides a metaphor whereby the believer's conscience and Christ may become united. The conscience - or in Bunyan's terms, the "head and life" of the believer - is the bridal chamber of Christ. For Luther the storming figures of Moses and the Pope are false lords who must make way for Christ, the one true lover of the Christian's soul. The Anfechtung which is our earthly condition while imprisoned in the flesh is, paradoxically, only overcome by the mystery of spiritual union with Christ which the saints have traditionally figured through the carnal union of man and wife: "sponsus et spousa fiunt una caro." This union requires, according to Luther's commentary a "commercium admirabile," a marvelous exchange of identity which permits the saint to claim Christ as the beloved: "But here must Christ and my conscience become one body, so that nothing remain in my sight but Christ crucified and raised from the dead. But if I behold myself only and set Christ aside, I am gone. For by and by I fall into this cogitation: Christ is in heaven, and thou art on earth, how shalt thou now come unto him?" (CG, 124)

As Peter Brown has repeatedly demonstrated, once the "antithesis of the heavens and the earth, closer to the stars, closer to the heavy matter of our world" becomes established in late antiquity, the necessary and consequent obsession for Christian piety is to concentrate on the "strange flash that could occur when two hitherto distinct categories joined in the back of men's minds."(50) Having secured the great divide between heaven and earth, the task of late antiquity was to find a place for such a joining to take place in local habitations - in, for instance, the relics and graves of saints, or the bodies of holy virgins, "walking on earth, touching high heaven's vault."(51) Luther will inherit this tradition of the irreconcilable poles of heaven and earth, as he will inherit the tradition of venerating virgins and relics. And, of course, he will rail against it, though his theology partakes of its iconographic legacy. Indeed, the imagistic tradition which enables Luther to resolve the conflict of the law and grace according to a metaphor of one's physical being on earth and spiritual being in heaven reflects the iconographic traditions apparent in Renaissance art. Leo Steinberg observes, for instance, a pattern in sacred art by which the head and the upper body symbolize all that is heavenly and the entire lower body symbolize all that is earthbound. This image depicted the paradox of the incarnation: Christ in his heavenly identity looks up to God, while his lower body reaches out to humanity in the sympathy of shared flesh.(52) In whatever ways this figure of division - head in heaven, body on earth - may be appropriated by Luther, the Reformation and the Counter Reformation silenced such speculation in religious art with new emphases on the Word and doctrinal purity. But the affective power of images locked in the language of Luther's fleshly strife with the devil retained their psychological power over Bunyan who, two centuries later, found desperate need for the kind of compromise between the body and the spirit embodied in Renaissance images of the incarnation.(53)

Luther's image of the conscience - or the sacred, inviolable center of the self - invites Bunyan's happy seizure of the marriage of Christ and the believer from Ephesians 5:30. Bunyan celebrates his union with Christ in connubial possession: "The Lord did also lead me into the mystery of Union with the Son of God, that I was joyned to him, that I was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, and now was that a sweet word to me in Ephes. 5:3. By this also was my faith in him, as my righteousness, the more confined to me; for he and I were one, then his righteousness was mine, his merits mine, his victory also mine. Now I could see myself in heaven and earth at once; in heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life, though on earth by my body or person" (GA, 233). Thus, while critics can locate Bunyan's final resolution of his conversion years of vacillation at the moment of this vision because acceptance of the doctrine of imputed righteousness fulfills the pattern of Puritan conversion, it is the affective and imaginative experience behind that acceptance which makes the doctrine a reality for Bunyan. What Bunyan apprehends is the doctrine of grace discovered by Luther in the realization described in his own autobiographical fragment. This doctrine is so powerful and indeed so transforming in the believer's psychic life because it frees the sinner from the self and weds the saint to Christ. The condition of the heart is central; for the Christian the heart must be transformed, made flesh - or "tender" as the Bedford women would have it - before one can even see the Lord.

I have stressed Luther's role - made so much of by Bunyan himself - in directing Bunyan to this union because Luther's language of grace breaks the cycle of Bunyan's conversion terror which was in many ways set for him by the German reformer and which was, at least for Bunyan, so missing from the conventional testimonies offered by his contemporaries. Bunyan breaks out of his thrashing ambivalence not because convention requires that he do so but because he is given a model to reconcile his earthly entrapment with the promise that he is already perfect in Christ. "We wait in spirit, by faith for righteousness with hope and desire: that is to say, we are righteous; howbeit our righteousness is not yet revealed but hangeth in hope" (CG, 384). This paradox, apprehended in his vision of Christ's righteousness, allows Bunyan to cease his oscillation and to move forward in his narrative as in his life (GA, 236, 253). "And so," says Luther, "is a man entire and perfect in this life, as well as without, until the righteousness be revealed which he waiteth for; and this shall be a perfect and a everlasting righteousness" (CG, 388).


A version of this essay was read at the Bunyan Session of the International Milton Symposium, Bangor, Wales, 1995. I would like to thank Michael J.B. Allen and the Renaissance Quarterly reviewers, as well as Professor Richard Greaves, for their helpful suggestions.

1 Bunyan, 1962 (subsequently cited as GA and by section numbers in the text). Damrosch, Jr., 141.

2 Caldwell, 37.

3 Tindall, 22-41, was the first to draw attention to Bunyan's conformity to conventions of spiritual autobiography. Ebner, 47, notes of the stages of the Calvinist conversion. "The process of spiritual illumination occurred . . . in precise steps which unfolded in a predictable order under the control of rigorous doctrinal logic." In his introduction to Bunyan's autobiography, Sharrock, while stressing Bunyan's divergence from the norm, thus summarizes the pattern of Puritan autobiography: (1) early providential mercies; (2) unregenerate life: sin and resistance to the Gospel; (3) conversion; (4) calling; and (5) account of the ministry (GA, xxi).

4 Ebner, 60. See also Beal, 145-60.

5 As cited in Ebner, 61.

6 Reeves, 798-810, points to the problem of arbitrariness and motivation in literary convention and to the indiscriminate conflation of social and literary convention (807, 809). This problem is apparent in Bunyan studies when Bunyan is supposed to be "destined" by cultural forces to produce a fundamentally derivative work (see, e.g., Mandel, 225-43). But as Cavel, 277, says of literary convention, "the idea that these conventions supply [the artist] with solutions to his artistic purposes, rather than problems and media within which those purposes are worked out, is as sensible as supposing that one has explained why a particular couple has . . . divorced by saying that divorce is a social form."

7 Sharrock, 47-60 (quotation, 55). Bunyan, 1975, 143, expresses a similar dissatisfaction with his contemporaries disavowal of figuration when he says: "I have leave/ (Example too, and that from them that have/ God better pleased by their words or ways,/Then any Man that breatheth now adays)/ Thus to express my mind." Here Bunyan invokes the scripture to permit his use of figurative language.

8 See Luther (subsequently cited as CG followed by page number in text).

9 Delaney, 34.

10 Beal, 154.

11 Tindall, viii.

12 Reeves, 802.

13 Cited in Haskin, 1981, 300-13 (quotation, 307).

14 Haskin, 1981, 312. See also Beal, 150-53.

15 Haskin, 1981, 313, twice mentions that he is not depending on - yet not in argument with - Harold Bloom's thesis in his analysis of Bunyan's "belatedness"; see also Haskin, 1984, 73-94. See also Beal, 150-53.

16 Bunyan's phrasing probably owes something to the Bishop of London's prefatory declaration "to all afflicted consciences" that "amongst many other godly English books in these our days printed and translated, thou shalt find but few wherein thy time shall seem better bestowed" (CG, lxxvii).

17 Baker, 115-33; 130 and 133.

18 See Haskins, 1984, for a thorough discussion of how Bunyan negotiated his aspirations to novelty. See also Camden, 1991, presented at the George Fox Tercentenary Conference in Lancaster, England.

19 Richard Greaves, 1967, 153-61, 169. See also Greaves, 1969, and his exposition of Bunyan's theology and hermeneutics.

20 Walzer, 22-24.

21 McGrath, 152.

22 Following Stanley Fish's work on the "affective stylistics" of reader response, Luxon, 1994, 265 ff., locates in Bunyan's turn from "other men's words" an "anti-hermeneutics of experience" which elevates revelational knowledge of God's word over propositional knowledge. Bunyan's often violent experience of God's word supersedes any rational hermeneutic. The skepticism revealed in Bunyan's rejection of his contemporaries is rooted in a deep anxiety over the ability of language to represent the "real" of Christian experience. See also Fish. The impossible paradox, of course, is that this reality must be represented in order to authenticate one's calling and because Christians are members of a body. Here, I would suggest, Bunyan's testimony - as realized first in his autobiography and then in his allegory of that experience - partakes of the "precociousness" which Felman, 15-16, locates in literature and psychoanalysis, both of which are "events of speech," modes of "truth realization" which occur in the testimonial process, beyond what is available as statement, "beyond, that is, as a truth transparent to itself." In literature, psychoanalysis and history, the witness is the one who "begets the truth through the speech process of the testimony." Thus Freud's Irma dream, as materially written down, becomes a transformation of one particular event into a "paradigmatic model not just of interpretation, but of the very principle of psychoanalytic discovery, a model, that is, of the very birth of knowledge through the testimonial process." Thus, Bunyan's testimony delivered to his congregation in Grace Abounding becomes a universal myth in The Pilgrim's Progress.

23 On "experimental" vs. "notional knowledge," see Nuttall; Knott; T.H. Luxon, 1986, 73-98.

24 On Bunyan's blasphemy, see Camden, 1989, 5-21; see also Bottral.

25 See Greaves, 1981, 159 ff., on Bunyan's "Covenant theology."

26 Hooker, 298.

27 Cited in McGrath, 96-97. See also Greaves, 1967, 159; Luxon, 1986, 27.

28 Bunyan, 1860-62, charts Bunyan's Calvinistic sense of the perfection of God's plan. See Luxon, 1989, 438-59.

29 Allison, 23-37 (quotation, 25).

30 McGrath, 123; see also Adams.

31 Meisner, 267-310 (quotation, 300); see also Adams, 301.

32 Drawing on Jacques Lacan's formulation of the moi and the je, Luxon, 1995, 118 and 189, recognizes an impossibility in both the ontology and psychology of Puritan belief. See also Lacan. Kristeva's, 257, revisions of Lacan's theories of subject formation illuminate the Puritan "abjection" of the self as she identifies the "semiotic chora" of the chaos of infantile experience upon which language (the symbolic) depends and yet by which the stability of the subject in signification is continuously undermined. "The place of the subject's creation, the semiotic chora, is also the place of its negation, where its unity gives way before the process of charges and stases producing that unity." Cited by Berry. To follow the political and ethical line of this thought, see Kristeva; and McAfee.

33 Bunyan, 1860-62, 1:v.

34 Kaufmann, 126. Gilman, 180, makes a similar point: "By the time Samson Agonistes was published in 1671, both the controversy over idolatry and its literary reflections had begun to fade."

35 Luxon, 1989, 449 and 446, has similarly reviewed the privileging of the word or doctrine over the image or representation in Puritan thought, making clear that in The Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan, "not satisfied simply to privilege words over images" pursues a "new conjunction of word and image, or to put it more precisely, a new conjunction of the experience of things with the experience of the Word." He stresses Bunyan's emphasis on the experiential knowledge of God's Word - as of his world - offered only by the work of the Holy Spirit. "Experimental knowledge of the Word is a matter of more than interpretation; it is more experiential, a process whereby words give way to the living Word itself."

36 See Leites, chaps. 1-2, for a fascinating discussion of the mainstream Puritan's resistance to feeling in devotion.

37 Kaufmann, 126.

38 Gilman, 35.

39 William Ames, cited by Ziff, 14, 171. For a discussion of how the Protestant "poetic" allowed an "inward place" or a mental picture to "safely substitute for painted devotional pictures of Catholic worship," see Gilman, 89-91.

40 See Sharrock's introduction, Bunyan, 1962, 144, 150; Ebner, 58-59; Beal, 157.

41 Kerrigan, 92-94. See Gilman, 179 if.

42 Stafford, 4-5. For recent studies which recognize and analyze the constitutive place of metaphor in mental functioning, see, for example, Johnson, xv. The relevant point for Bunyan is that metaphor, the imagistic language and the structures which that language embodies, shape our very being. Image schemata and metaphysical projections are "experiential structures of meaning" that design our bodily being in the world and our most abstract reasoning and understanding. "Imagination is central to human meaning and rationality for the simple reason that what we can experience and cognize as meaningful, and how we can reason about it, are both dependent upon structures of imagination that make our experience what it is. On this view, meaning is not situated solely in proposition, instead it permeates our embodied, spatial, temporal, culturally formed and value laden understanding. The structures of imagination are part of what is shared when we understand one another and are able to communicate within a community" (172). See also Ricoeur.

43 Cited in McGrath, 130.

44 Schweitzer, 28, 16. Bunyan's allegorical extension of the feminine metaphor in his House of the Interpreter is figured in the hermaphroditic pastor who suckles his charges: again, representing an allegorical expression of the personal resolution Bunyan comes to in Grace Abounding. The final extension of this feminine metaphor occurs in Bunyan's construction and, as it were, deconstruction of his Christiana in The Pilgrim's Progress. "Whereas in Paradise Lost the son's feminine subordination to the Father offers Eve a model for her own Christian heroism, in The Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan's transfer of the role of the Bride of Christ to Standfast excludes Christiana and all other women from that role" (104). See Thickstun; see also Luxon, 200-07. And see Clover's surprising study of male identification with female passivity.

45 Bynum, 171. See Masson, 304-15, for a discussion of how the "third generation" of New England Puritan preachers appropriated female "roles of bride and wife to define the roles of the regenerate Christian in relation to God" (305).

46 Mandel, 239.

47 The physical presence of Christ is, paradoxically felt in the hearing of his Word, enacting a kind of incarnation as it is ingested into the mind, heart and soul of the believer. Gilman, 127, cites Richard Baxter's charting of the Word's "operations": "Methinks the sound doth turn to substance, and having entered at the ear, doth possess my brain, and thence descendeth down to my very heart; methinks I feel it stir and work . . . Me-thinks I feel it digest as it proceeds, and increase my native heat and moisture, and lying as a reviving cordial at my heart; from thence doth send forth lively spirits, which beat through the pulses of my soul" (254) An early and useful study of Bunyan's enactments with biblical texts in the context of his "psychological temperament" is found in Marcault, 209-23. More recent work on this topic has been done by Carlton, 17-32, and Stranahan, 329-43. See also James, 157, for his classic description of Bunyan's "Verbal automatisms."

48 Illuminating to Bunyan's imagistic resolution of his deep ambivalence about the place of the flesh is Richard Sibbes's "location of his own subjectivity" in Christ; ". . . for I am one with Christ. When he dies, I and my head did die, and this pride and covetousness and worldliness, this base and filthy carnal disposition, was crucified, and I in my head am now risen and sit in heaven. Therefore, I am in some sort glorious" (cited in Literal Figures, 26).

49 See Sharrock, in Bunyan, 1962, 144, 150.

50 Brown, 1978, 16, 3.

51 Brown, 1988, 187.

52 Steinberg, 143-44.

53 For a discussion of Calvinist problems with the corporeal presence of Christ, see McDonnell.


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