[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

srevard at siue.edu srevard at siue.edu
Sun Jul 9 18:41:51 EDT 2006

Dear Carol,

Just a word of advice on the Virgin Mary.  See Luke 1:38.
Mary is informed beforehand and consents.

Quoting Carol Barton <cbartonphd at earthlink.net>:

> Re: [Milton-L] The War in HeavenBefore I am pilloried for the implication
> that enlightened moderns *don't* anthropomorphize deity, let me clarify: I
> think that Milton goes as far as he can to distinguish the anthropomorphism
> (human-like shape or form) of God the Father (and the Son), without making
> either of them human-like in behavior or response any more than he absolutely
> has to do, for dramatic consistency and effect. The Father hurls no
> thunderbolts--comes to the deus-ex-machina aid of none of the combatants--and
> though one could argue that, Zeus or Jove-like, he rapes a mortal woman (in
> that the Virgin Mary did not know before the fact of, and therefore could not
> have consented to, the act of her impregnation) that is not a part of
> Milton's version of the story. The "wooden bore" who is the Father (quoting
> Irene Samuel, I think) mystifies us precisely because he doesn't behave like
> an angry human parent whose children have defied his edicts: he speaks in the
> cold judicial voice of law and justice, untempered by what will be the Son's
> interceded mercy, citing the crime and the statutory punishment. Attempting
> to understand the Almighty and his works in terms of human psychology and the
> laws of the physical universe is an exercise in futility, and often results
> in absurdities (as Empson so clearly demonstrated concerning the Father's
> "stacking of the deck"). I think that's part of Milton's point in Book 6:
> like an indulgent parent, Raphael attempts to reduce his answers to Adam's
> questions to a level that Adam can comprehend, so that he will understand why
> Satan and the reprobate angels were cast out of heaven, but a great deal of
> substance gets lost in the translation.
> Best to all,
> Carol Barton

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