[Milton-L] Satan in Paradise Regained
junkopardner at comcast.net
Tue Nov 18 23:40:58 EST 2008
On 11/18/08 9:30 PM, "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:
> Jonathan: the relevant texts in Augustine can be found in Bk 7 of the
> Confessions. There are English translation online available. It's very
> difficult for me to respond further about your other points because I'm asking
> for more precision in your language than you see the need to provide. I will
> say that if you think Milton believed that God -needed- Satan for anything,
> you're far off track from the start -- or, that's the point where you need to
> make your strongest defense. Pointing out repeatedly that the temptation and
> fall did indeed happen as it did is not to demonstrate that it -had to happen
> that way and only that way-, a point I made in probably my second or third
> response to you.
I must confess (Oh Conscience!) that I am a bit of a sandbagger, and
sometimes my means don't always justify the ends.
And perhaps what you're looking for (with regard to "precision) might be
hiding in God's first speech in PL,
The first sort by thir own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-deprav'd: Man falls deceiv'd
By the other first: Man therefore shall find grace,
The other none...[PL III: 129-132]
"The first sort" is of course Satan and the angels that stood with him in
the war in Heaven. Now notice how Milton writes God stating that Satan fell
"Self-tempted", but that "Man falls deceiv'd / by the other first".
In short, what this means is that Satan was the "author" of evil because he
was the first to choose evil freely _without_ temptation, and did so
autonomously (without external provocation), because he fell "Self-tempted,
"Man" (read Adam, Eve and their prodigy) subsequently falls "deceive'd / By
the other first", which means that man is incapable of deceiving himself
independently of Satan (although I should add that this still doesn't negate
man's free will/choice), who by virtue of being the "first sort" had no
tempter other than himself, further solidifying his position as the author
of evil and temptation. And "the other first" _is_ Satan here.
So no "human" could have tempted Jesus in the desert (or a fellow human in
café over a cup of coffee today) _without_ Satan. Which is exactly why
Milton's God states that "man shall find grace", but Satan will not. Because
Satan is the author of evil, "self-tempted".
What that means to God "needing" Satan down the road, so to speak, is quite
apparent to me; and soon I hope to make it apparent to you and others.
And as for your repeated suggestions that it _could_ have happened another
way is a weak hand to draw on, because you have no textual evidence in the
Bible, PL and PR to support that. Let's just say it could've happened
another way. And then, let's say that the Sun _could_ rise in the West and
set in the East. But the former didn't happen any other way, and the last
time I looked out of my Eastern window at dawn, the sun was right there
rising just like it has always been.
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