[Milton-L] Milton as literalist?

Michael Bryson michael.bryson at csun.edu
Sat Jul 22 22:48:53 EDT 2006

Oh, disagreement indeed. I did not intend to suggest otherwise. 

"M takes sola scriptura very far indeed. The spirit is necessary, but scripture is what it reads."

I think you underplay the role of the spirit as "the possession of every man." For Milton, in my view, "sola scriptura" would finally privilege the spirit, the text written on the heart of the individual, not the physical/traditional text with which Milton sometimes had a struggle (especially when he wanted to wrest from it a particular meaning--the arguments on divorce, for example). 

"Ms discussion in DDC has to do with _continuity_ of the scriptural text."

In part, but not solely. The continuity is primarily continuity of the *physical* text. I think you are eliding his more radical implication about the relation between that text and the spirit-written "text" in the heart.

"His Neoplatonism, in my view, is ethical rather than exegetic."

Hmmm, interesting, but I do not see it as an either/or for him. In fact, I see it as having ethical, exegetic, and metaphysical elements (all of which appear in the poetry).

"I will be arguing these and related points in a book."

I look forward to it...

Michael Bryson

>Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 14:11:03 -0700
>From: jfleming at sfu.ca  
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Re: Milton-L Digest, Vol 33, Issue 23  
>To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>On Fri, 21 Jul 2006 13:19:04 -0700 (PDT) milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
>> In response to James Fleming:
>> You just commented that, in your view, Milton was "a very strong
>> literalist." I think that explains why we seem to be coming from
>> opposite points of view in much of this recent discussion. I think
>> that the Milton who emphasizes the spirit as the preeminent
>> interpretive authority in reading scripture, while also emphasizing
>> the textual corruptions of scripture, and sewing neoplatonic themes
>> into his poetry (the mechanics of descent and return seem clear to me
>> in Paradise Lost, and also seem to me to play an important role in
>> Paradise Regained) is less inclined to be an interpretive literalist
>> than you are positing and arguing for here (especially in relation to
>> a tradition of "orthodox Augustinian literalism"--though that was an
>> important part of Lewis' view of Milton). We're looking at the same
>> Milton and seeing two very different figures, it seems.
>Yes. But this is disagreement, rather than agreement to disagree. In Of Ref,
>AP, Civil Power, and DDC, M takes sola scriptura very far indeed. The spirit
>is necessary, but scripture is what it reads. Ms discussion in DDC has to do
>with _continuity_ of the scriptural text. His Neoplatonism, in my view, is
>ethical rather than exegetic. Etc.
>I will be arguing these and related points in a book. 
>I agree that the recent discussions have been very useful. J
>> Great discussions lately,
>> Michael Bryson

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