[Milton-L] death in Eden.

James Rovira jrovira at drew.edu
Tue Nov 16 00:09:27 EST 2004

Thanks for the good response, Mr. Smith.  I think we need to read the 
passage in Genesis within its own cultural context -- this was an 
agrarian society which knew of no animal that shed its skin other than 
reptiles, and could only conceive of separating an animal from its skin 
by killing it.  Of course, if you know of other animals native to the 
far east of the Mediterranean that shed their skins (and which had skins 
suitable for use as human clothing), though, I'm open to suggestion. 
Theological niceties are the only thing that would motivate a reading 
that otherwise so defies the obvious. Isn't there also a direct 
linguistic connection between "atonement" and "covering?"

I did once try to separate an animal from its skin without killing it, 
but my wife wasn't at all amused and made me apologize to her cat.

At any rate, there's undoubtedly a long and well thought out history of 
theological niceties of which Milton was undoubtedly aware, and it does 
seem clear that he at least considered the possibility of animals 
shedding their skins for Adam and Eve and growing back replacements, 
from the passage you quoted.  Thanks much for drawing attention to it.

Somewhat bemused by the mental image, actually... :)  I see why you 
enjoy the passage.


Samuel Smith wrote:
> Actually, Jim, the biblical account does not commit Milton to the slaying of
> animals to provide coverings for Adam and Eve.  Here's the KJV: "For Adam
> also and for his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed
> them" (Genesis 3.21).  This allows Milton to remain uncommitted in his own
> account:

More information about the Milton-L mailing list