John Bunyan's Master Story. The Holy War as Battle Allegory in Religious and Biblical Context

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Demonstrates that with The Holy War, John Bunyan created a literary masterpiece in the tradition of Psychomania by Prudentius and set the standard by which to judge battle allegories. This analysis reveals the roots of Bunyan’s genius in both his theological and literary sensibilities, shaped by Luther and Foxe, and his comprehensive understanding of the biblical plot or “master story.” This work details biblical foundations and literary devices employed by Bunyan which have remained unnoticed in previous studies, while also engaging themes or motifs of importance to him as a writer and thinker.


“Dr. Daniel Runyon brings two notable strengths to this study of John Bunyan’s The Holy War. One is his thorough knowledge of the English Bible, roughly comparable to Bunyan’s own. Another is his informed interest in the intricacies of the sanctified Christian life seen under the metaphor of continuing warfare.” – Dr. U. Milo Kaufmann, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Dr. Runyon provides a sensitive and nuanced treatment of one of the greatest spiritual writers of all times. Focusing on John Bunyan’s less known, but equally important work, The Holy War, Dr. Runyon weaves together a beautiful mosaic of insight from great thinkers in the present to illuminate one of Christianity’s great texts from the past ... Dr. Runyon’s book provides ample assistance in understanding Bunyan’s influence in the past and his relevance for today.” – Dr. Gayle D. Beebe, President, Spring Arbor University

“Dr. Runyon seeks in this work to demonstrate that Bunyan’s genius in The Holy War ‘is rooted in his theological and literary sensibilities,’ drawing out ‘biblical foundations and literary devices not annotated in previous studies’ ... Dr. Runyon’s work is well-written and clearly presented.” – Dr. Karen Britland, Lecturer in Renaissance Literature, School of Humanities, Keele University

Table of Contents

Preface by U. Milo Kaufmann
Section 1: Grasping The Holy War in Religious Context
1 Bunyan’s Hybrid Puritan Theology
2 Influences on Bunyan’s Battle Allegory
3 Forces Shaping Bunyan’s World View
4 Bunyan’s Master Story: The Thing Speaks for Itself
Section 2: Reading The Holy War in Biblical Context
5 Creation & Revelation
6 Law, Wisdom & Prophecy
7 Gospel
8 Apocalypse
9 Emmanuel’s Resolution
10 Conclusion

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