[Milton-L] The Son's knowledge

Richard Durocher durocher at stolaf.edu
Fri Oct 24 11:29:26 EDT 2008


To Larry Isitt and others,

  Those lines from Book VII strongly indicate that the Father is "Only
Omniscient" (123).  Back to Book III, however, this question remains:  When
the Son offers to "be mortal to redeem / Man's mortal crime" (214-15), does
the Son completely know–does he possess the Father's knowledge of–what will
happen?  The Son certainly seems well possessed of the knowledge that "thou
[Father] has giv'n me to possess / Life in myself for ever" (III.243-44).
The Son knows he will not be left forever in the grave.  Much in the epic
depends, I think, on what the Son knows and doesn't know here, particularly
what his status "as a sacrifice," in the narrator's words (III.269) means.

  Rich DuRocher

On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 9:04 AM, Larry Isitt <isitt at cofo.edu> wrote:

>  Hi Rich,
>
> The negative is not a positive; in this case the absence of the term
> "omniscience" is not warrant to grant what is missing from the list of the
> angels' hymns to the Son. Only the Father is ever called omniscient in the
> epic: Things not revealed, which the invisible King, / Only Omniscient,
> hath suppressed in night (VII, 122-23).Besides, even taking the list as it
> stands should also tell us something relevant: the Son cannot be all-knowing
> if he is  not eternal as well, because he lacks what came before his own
> becoming.
>
>
>
> Larry
>
>
>
>
>
> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] *On Behalf Of *Richard Durocher
> *Sent:* Thursday, October 23, 2008 4:04 PM
> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] The Son's knowledge
>
>
>
> Dear Larry,
>
>    PL III.372-389 shows the angels celebrating the Father, first, as
> "Omnipotent, / Immutable, Immortal, Infinite, / Eternal" and the Son,
> second, as "of all Creation first, / Begotten Son, Divine Similitude."
> Indeed, the Son seems to me, by implication, NOT to possess the Father's
> omnipotence, immortality, infinitude.  But "omniscience" is not mentioned in
> those lines as being, as one might expect, a property of the Father's; nor
> is that divine quality there excluded from the Son.  That's precisely where
> I am stuck.
>
>    Thanks for helping me think through this tangle.
>
>    Rich
>
>
>  On Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 2:31 PM, Larry Isitt <isitt at cofo.edu> wrote:
>
> Rich,
>
> The key lies not in III.80ff which have to be pressed to fulfill any sense
> of omniscience on the part of the Son, but instead is to be located in the
> angels' hymns in III.372-75, 84-89 which argue strongly for Milton's
> Arianism. I think there remains a very strong case to be made among
> Miltonists for his heterodox Son because of the inferior names Milton
> reserves for him as compared with those he reserves solely for the Father.
> At no point in the epic, for example, is the Son ever unambiguously called
> Almighty, Omnipotent, Infinite, a step Milton might easily have incorporated
> had he been truly orthodox. Or he might even have begun the hymns with
> "Thee, Father and Son" and then follow with the list he includes and
> reserves for the Father. The reason the key lies with the angels' hymns and
> not elsewhere is because these descriptions are explicitly those one finds
> in theological works of the day and which are components of the descriptions
> of the Trinity as found in the major confessions of faith of the
> Reformation, e.g., Augsburg Confession 1530, Articles of Faith 1662,
> Westminster Confession 1647, to name a few. What Milton in his epic reserves
> solely to the Father are there explicitly said to be the properties of F, S,
> and Spirit.
>
> Larry Isitt
>
>
>
> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] *On Behalf Of *Richard Durocher
> *Sent:* Thursday, October 23, 2008 1:51 PM
> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
> *Subject:* [Milton-L] The Son's knowledge
>
>
>
> Dear colleagues,
>
>     I wonder if you might be inclined to respond to a question that
> troubles me.  How is the Son's knowledge in PARADISE LOST best described?
> Is it full and complete omniscience, equal to God's?  The alternative, is,
> simply put, anything less than that– though limited knowledge might occupy a
> wide range.
>     For many years I thought I had a fixed position on this question,
> thanks to Tom Corns's REGAINING 'PARADISE LOST' (arguing that the questions
> the Father asks before the Son in III.80 ff.  imply their equal knowledge)
> and Hugh MacCallum's MILTON AND THE SONS OF GOD and Irene Samuel's classic
> essay on drama versus dogma.  Now, recent discussions with students lead me
> to re-open the question.  Responses on- or off-list gratefully welcomed.
>
>    Best wishes,
>
>   Rich DuRocher
>
>
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