[Milton-L] Strier, the Son's role and necessity
rastrier at uchicago.edu
Tue Aug 1 12:12:02 EDT 2006
Thanks for asking for clarification, Mr. Gillum.
The point is that the son's intervention is made superfluous by the
Father's announcement of man's fall and salvation in the first
speech. Justice will not "die" without the Son's intervention, since
the Father has already explained -- whether satisfactorily or not --
the "justice" of man being offered salvation and the fallen angels
not (deceived vs. self-tempted). "Die hee or justice must" is simply
false in the poem. The idea that the Father is "foreseeing" the
Son's intervention has no basis in the text whatever, and makes
nonsense of the speech-- which is meant to be a straightforward piece
of moral reasoning.
So, however one reads the business between the Father and the Son
later in III, it is simply not true in the poem as we have it that
the Son's intervention is responsible for human salvation. "Maybe
the Father is testing the Son and the non-fallen angels for some
reason, but that is a different matter.
My point is that the initial speech of the Father does away with
normal Christian soteriology. The whole business of the Son's
intervention is an attempt to make the soteriology of the poem look
traditional (and is also something else, having to do with M's theory
of the constant need for moral testing of everyone).
I hope that helps, since I'm off-line for a week now
Professor of English
Frank L. Sulzberger Professor in the College
Editor, Modern Philology
The University of Chicago
Department of English
1115 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
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