[Milton-L] death in Eden and tree bark.

John Geraghty johnegeraghty at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 17 00:22:25 EST 2004

This thread and comment on Noah reminds me of two texts,

1. The Book of the Bee

"Some say that they clothed themselves with the skins of animals, which they 
stripped off; but this is not credible, for all the beasts were created in 
couples, and Adam and Eve had as yet no knives to kill and flay them; hence 
it is clear that he means the bark of trees1. Only the blessed Moses called 
the bark of trees 'skins,' because it fills the place of skins to trees. In 
the land of India there are trees whose bark is used for the clothing of 
kings and nobles and the wealthy, on account of its beauty. After God had 
expelled Adam and his wife from Paradise, He withheld from them the fruits 
of trees, and the use of bread and flesh and wine, and the anointing with 
oil; but they cooked grain and vegetables and the herbs of the earth, and 
did eat sparingly. Moreover, the four-footed beasts and fowl and reptiles 
rebelled against them, and some of them became enemies and adversaries unto 
them. They remained thus until Noah went forth from the ark, and then God 
allowed them to eat bread and to drink wine and to eat flesh, after they had 
slain the animal and poured out its blood."

2. The Cave of Treasures
"And God made for them tunics of skin which was stripped from the trees, 
that is to say, of the bark of the trees, because the trees that were in 
Paradise had soft barks, and they were softer than the byssus and silk 
wherefrom the garments worn by kings are made. And God dressed them in this 
soft skin, which was thus spread over a body of infirmities."

The 1688 Illustration is not animal skins but fig leaves on the vine 
contrasting w/ the well-dressed Angels.

Also notice how Satan's attire and appearance chronologically deteriorates 
in the illustrations.



----- Original Message ----- 

From: "Boyd M Berry" <bberry at mail1.vcu.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2004 2:11 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] death in Eden.

> Well, the vegetarians--Roger Crab and Thomas Tryon--though men became
> carnivores with Noah.  Books about diet conventionally noted that the
> patriarchs muct have been very healthy as they lived so long, but wilth
> one exception I recall (and don't recall the name), dietary writers glided
> over that possibility in favor of beef.
> Boyd Berry
> On Tue, 16 Nov 2004, James Rovira wrote:
>> That sounds reasonable.  While a sheep could be shorn (but then, you're
>> right, we wouldn't be talking about skins), even in that case it's a bit
>> loaded with sacrificial imagery.
>> Abel sacrificed from his flocks, remember, while Cain sacrificed from
>> his crops.
>> You're right, let's leave Egypt out of this :)
>> Beth's question does raise some problems.  If we have talking snakes and
>> lions that don't eat meat, why not mammals that shed their skin?
>> Another question: animals weren't given to humans for food (or feared
>> humans) until after the flood waters receded - -Noah's time.  The most
>> natural inference to make from this is that pretty well every animal was
>> vegetarian until then.
>> Jim
>> Samuel Smith wrote:
>> > Dear Jim and John:
>> >
>> > A colleague in Hebrew Bible informs me that the verb translated as
>> > "clothed" in Genesis 3.21 is labash, not kaphar.  The atonement
>> > connection would be stronger of God were "covering" (kaphar) them, but
>> > he isn't.  Everett Fox, Robert Alter, the KJV, and the NRSV are all
>> > correct to use "clothed."  So there isn't any direct or indirect
>> > linguistic connection to atonement in Genesis 3.21.  Rabbinic
>> > commentary tends to emphasize God's kindness in clothing Adam and Eve
>> > (as Milton does in his text--do Jason Rosenblatt or Jeffrey Shoulson
>> > talk about this?), identifying a moral obligation to clothe the naked.
>> >
>> > As for ancient middle eastern agrarian society, perhaps a sheep (which
>> > Milton clearly has running about in Eden) would be a better analog
>> > than a cat [unless you want to go back to Egypt :)]?  While wool isn't
>> > literally skin, it would serve metaphorically as a covering provided
>> > from the skin of an animal.  I'm not suggesting that Milton images God
>> > shearing a sheep to cover and protect the human pair from the cold.
>> > I'm imagining a possibility for Genesis 3.21 that doesn't require the
>> > shedding of blood within the cultural context of the text's origins.
>> >
>> > Samuel Smith
>> >
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