I like to order books with interdisciplinary importance--in this case, literature and religion.
Shoulson, Jeffrey S. Milton and the Rabbis: Hebraism, Hellenism, and Christianity. Columbia.
Christianity and Literature: “A stunning scholarly achievement...with compelling arguments, and explanations, forcefully precise yet graceful writing, and a genuine feeling for the work he is about, Shoulson masterfully achieves his book’s every purpose…develops provocative and convincing readings…against a remarkably detailed presentation of centuries of religious and cultural encounter…a superbly sensitive portrait of post-Restoration Milton…a book for Miltonists but also for all readers concerned with the development of religious thought. Meticulously researched and well documented, it will inevitably redirect scholarly discourse, but Milton and the Rabbis is also a book for undergraduates just beginning to learn to read, to interpret, and maybe to accept the complications that lead to the recovery of those truths contained in texts such as Paradise Lost.” Renaissance Quarterly: “By any standard, Shoulson’s work is impressively learned, rich implication, and attentive to the subtleties of what we might call the poetics of theological speculation…the study is, in many ways, better on the rabbis than on Milton…Shoulson’s discussions about Milton are perhaps less convincing because he is constrained by his own argument….Although at times the argument of Milton and the Rabbis gets needlessly complicated, overall we should applaud Shoulson for taking on such an ambitious and certainly worthwhile project.” Church History: “Shoulson’s chief contribution has been to bring to bear on Milton studies an intimate familiarity with the rabbinical literature that directly or indirectly inspired the great English poet. Shouldson bridges these historical and linguistic worlds with daunting fluency…He shows a command of the critical scholarship…The result is not only a new understanding of the close relations of historical contexts, interpretive styles and conclusions of Milton and the rabbis, but also a new appreciation of Milton as theologian and ethicist for post-Constantinian Christianity…extraordinarily nuanced…recommended to specialists.” Sixteenth Century Journal: “stimulating…Shoulson brings to his task great erudition, scholarly comprehensiveness, and critical acumen. The way in which he establishes dialogue among the many rabbinic texts, as well as dialogue between them and Christian writers and, of course, between them and Milton makes for a rich canvas.”