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.
In Grace Abounding Bunyan gives us an "anatomy of human terror" unmatched by his contemporaries.
I am pointing out that in Grace Abounding it is affective intensity which grounds Luther's testimony and which helps resolve Bunyan's despair.
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.
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.
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.
Thus, Bunyan's testimony delivered to his congregation in Grace Abounding becomes a universal myth in The Pilgrim's Progress.
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.
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners: John Bunyan's Pauline Epistle.
In a time when a swarm of locusts is destroying the land, the prophet Joel calls the people to repent, to "return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.