[Milton-L] Milton on the Sacred and the Profane?

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 22 06:58:49 EDT 2006

Jameela Lares wrote:

"Er, Jeffery, I don't think Milton thinks in these
dualistic (or postmodern?)terms. He's a monist. It
would be like saying that purity can make impurity
impure, or that health could infect sickness."

I don't know that I was presenting a dualism,
precisely, or some variant of postmodernism. I'm more
indebted to Jacob Milgrom's Commentary on Leviticus
than anything else.

Anyway, I don't see how purity could make impurity
impure (did you mean "make impurity pure"?) or even
how health could infect sickness (unless health is
like holiness).

Purity is a neutral state, not a dynamic force, unlike
impurity and holiness. The common (or, misleadingly,
the 'profane') is the substance of the world that can
be imbued with either impurity or holiness.

Milton does use the terms "sacred" (i.e., the holy),
the "common"/"profane," "impure," and (I think)
"pure." He also uses the term "unhallowed," which
could mean either "made common" or "made impure,"
depending on how one reads it.

I'm just trying to figure out if he has a system
similar to rabbinical ones. He certainly could have,
given his reading and also his reliance on John Selden
(whose work I don't know well enough).

Anyway ... thanks for the other information, about
Milton's interpretation of "living soul" in God's act
of giving life to Adam. I wish, however, that Milton
had explained what he meant by touching something
impure -- is impurity communicated to the one who
touches the impure thing?

Jeffery Hodges

University Degrees:

Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

Email Address:

jefferyhodges at yahoo.com



Office Address:

Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
Department of English Language and Literature
Korea University
136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
South Korea

Home Address:

Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Sehan Apt. 102-2302
Sinnae-dong 795
Seoul 131-770
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