[Milton-L] Hell and forgiveness

jfleming at sfu.ca jfleming at sfu.ca
Thu Jul 20 18:05:49 EDT 2006

I regret (and am surprised) to find myself persistently disagreeing w/Prof.
Strier. But isn't Origen the exegetic and theological whipping-boy of the
early-modern period -- excoriated by everybody from Luther to Calvin to
Bellarmine -- precisely for claiming things like that? Wasn't it one of
Pico's more controversial theses that Origen might _escape_ damnation? Who
else believed that the devil might be forgiven? (A real, not a rhetorical,
question.) Surely not Luther or Calvin! 

It seems to me that the very worst sentence passed on Milton's Satan, albeit
implicitly, is that he will not be part of the all that will be in all.
JD Fleming

On Thu, 20 Jul 2006 12:56:22 -0500 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
> Re the book that Milton did write.
> There are conflicting visions of the ultimate end of things in PL. 
> God becoming "all in all" is not compatible with a permanent sealed 
> off hell.  And it's not as if the idea of universal salvation was not 
> available to Milton.	Origen believed in it, as did some of M's 
> contemporaries.  It is not an idea incompatible with other things 
> that M believed, or with some of his metaphysical and moral visions.
> With regard to moral improvement as a model, one could imagine 
> holding a Habermasian view of continuous and progressive discursive 
> activity -- a model that Aeropagitica can be seen to endorse -- or, 
> to put it more traditionally, a purgatorial view of some sort, where 
> sinful creatures experience morally educative pain (not simply 
> punishment).
> On the matter of forgiveness, Samuel Smith has made an extremely 
> profound point, and the crucial one.	The deepest idea of forgiveness 
> is one that does NOT require preconditions.  This is the conception 
> of grace put forth by Luther and Calvin and co, and one that Milton, 
> as a rationalist, could not grasp (see my essay on why Eden is better 
> than heaven for the corrosive effects of M's rationalism on his 
> religious vision-- Milton Studies 38 [2000]).

James Dougal Fleming, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English,
Simon Fraser University,
(604) 291-4713
cell: 778-865-0926

Laissez parler les faits.

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