[Milton-L] Strier, the Son's role and necessity
mgillum at unca.edu
Tue Aug 1 15:34:17 EDT 2006
For when Richard Strier returns-- thanks for the explanation.
As I understand it (subject to correction), the Son in some respects
seems to be just the external agency of the Father, and in other
respects seems to be a sort of apprentice deity, a free agent who is
learning and growing through obedience to the Father. The Father's
will ordains creation, judgement, punishment, and redemption; the Son
executes these things. The Father could accomplish things without the
separate person of the Son, but as Diane McColley has said, the Son
serves as a sort of middle term to mediate and integrate the
creation with the divine. Would it be true that the only thing the
Father can't do by/for himself is to die?
Prof. Strier wrote, "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."
I take "he" to refer to Man, not the Son. Is Prof. Strier taking it
the other way? I have understood "Die hee or justice must" to mean,
"Having done that for which the penalty is death, A&E must die, or
else there is no justice." I don't understand why this statement is
"false in the poem." Upon eating the fruit, A&E "die" in the various
senses adduced by Milton in DDC 12, and later they will die in the
conventional sense. Therefore, "must die" is true in the poem. I
believe "or justice must" is also true in the poem insofar as justice
is executing the prescribed punishment for those undoubtedly guilty
of crime / sin, a definition that seems to apply in PL. (I understand
that "justice" has other meanings as well.)
It is true that "Justice will not die without the Son's
intervention." However, the full execution of mercy seems to require
(in the poem's terms) that some being sacrifice himself to "pay the
rigid satisfaction, death for death." Owing to the requirements of
justice, man could not be restored to life without the Son's (or
someone's) intervention. I am not endorsing the logic of Milton's
theory of the atonement, but it seems apparent that, in the poem, the
Son's role is needful, if not "necessary" in the philosophical sense.
All this seems obvious, so I suspect I'm missing something.
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