[Milton-L] Strier, the Son's role and necessity

Richard Strier 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
Richard Strier
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
773-702-8006/ 8536
Fax:  773-702-2495
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