[Milton-L] help interpret a line

Harold Skulsky HSKULSKY at email.smith.edu
Mon Jan 26 16:28:38 EST 2004

David writes: "I can't agree with [Harold] that Satan's project is
simply to overcome Eve's fear of eating the apple.  Satan's project is
to convince Eve to disobey God's command."

Yes, this reference to disobedience is crucially relevant, but I didn't
say or imply otherwise. "Simply" is not part of my reading. Beware of
contraband adverbs.

Acts, like other things, are susceptible of being captured by a variety
of definite descriptions. The unspecified fear that the fear of death
promises to remove is (to repeat) Eve's fear of eating the apple. This
act, of course, would not be an object of fear if it weren't also an act
of disobeying God's command NOT to perform it. 

The act description that serves the Tempter's purpose is surely not the
one specifically invoking disobedience; on the contrary, his prior
argument is designed to weaken the force of the prohibiition, which (he
argues) was more a test of courage than a serious ban. What the Tempter
wants to show is (i) that Eve doesn't know enough about evil to fear the
act, however described, and (ii) that the cure of her ignorance is to
perform the act.

The upshot of this message (my last, I'm afraid) is that there is and
was no substantive disagreement on the point in question. I was frying
other fish.

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