Pilgrims Progress

John Bunyan- went to jail because he was a Baptist ~ People who refused to worship in the Anglican church were called "non-conformists". -Considered act of treason against state to be a member of church who was not the national church. Must belong to Anglican Church to be a good citizen.  It was the "established" church.
  • Those who favored a state church were establishmentarians.
  • Those who opposed the state church (like Bunyan) were disestablishmentarians.
  • Thus those who opposed people like Bunyan were antidisestablishmentarians, giving us everybody's favorite long word.  These word came along later, but the conflict arose during this period.
-Puritans wanted to purify Anglican Church

-Separatists formed separate churches. Novel ideas to separate church and state.

-When the Puritans came to power, they had closed the Anglican churches, and killed Charles I, a Catholic.

-When Charles II returned to power in 1660, the Anglican church again became the establised church.  Some diversity was allowed, but well-known nonconformists like Bunyan were jailed as examples.

Bunyan was not well educated. The Bible was his only textbook.  Thus the major influence on Bunyan in his writing is the Judeo-Christian tradition.

-Pilgrims Progress is an allegory. Christian allegories date back to the fourth century a.d., when Boethius wrote The Consolation of Philosophy.

-Allegory ~ is the reading of documents on several levels.  It was used by church in middle ages, and still is popular.  Allegory was Invented by Greeks because their gods' immorality was embarrassing. (Example - Zeus sometimes turned himself into an animal and raped women.  Allegorical interpretations of these myths thus arose).  Allegory was later adopted by Christians.

The medieval church expressed its understanding of allegory in the following distich:

  1. Littera gesta docet;
  2. quod credas allegoria;
  3. quid agas moralia;
  4. quo tendas anagogia.


  1. The letter teaches the events;
  2. what you believe is allegory;
  3. what you are should do is the moral (tropological) sense;
  4. where you are going (after you die) is anagogical.

The verse that the church used to justify this method of interpretation is 2 Corinthians 3:6:

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The early church took this to mean that interpretation of the Bible should be symbolic as well as literal.  "By dismissing the spiritual sense as a pious fantasy, modern critics have missed the profundity of this verse, and hence of the tradition of spiritual exegesis. This medieval distich expresses what the Church has always believed about the Bible.
  1. The Bible records God's action in history (the letter), and it is the task of the interpreter to discern the relation between what is written there and what has come about (and will come about) because of what happened.
  2. The three latter senses show how this is best done, by relating the text to what we believe (allegory),
  3. to how we are to live (the moral sense),
  4. and to what we hope for (the anagogical sense)."  (Interpreting the Bible: Three Views)

Jerusalem in the four-fold allegorical senses:

  1. Jerusalem, e.g., according to its literal sense, is the Holy City;
  2. taken allegorically, it denotes the Church Militant;
  3. understood tropologically, it stands for the just soul;
  4. finally, in its anagogical sense, it stands for the Church Triumphant.

 In Pilgrims Progress:

  1. Literal - journey from the City of Destruction to Celestial City despite great perils.
  2. Allegorical - the progress of any Christian from Baptism through trials to heaven.
  3. Moral - courage, trust, effort ~ to have these there characteristics.
  4. Anagogic - God’s providence and care for us. Worthiness of goal - to get to city.
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