[Milton-L] Milton and the crucifixion, etc
rastrier at uchicago.edu
Fri Jul 28 15:26:53 EDT 2006
With regard to the centrality of the crucifixion to most Christian
conceptions of God, I agree. However, Milton is one of the
exceptions. The Incarnation and crucifixion play remarkably little
role in his thinking (and in PL). It's all about the Father. (The
Son in PL has no necessary role, except to serve as an irritant to
Satan. In the first speech in Book 3, the Father has already decided
to give erring man a chance (and the erring angels, none), so the
Son's "intervention" is not really part of the soteriological scheme.
And driving dad's chariot in Book VI is not much of a role.) So,
talk about the meaning of the crucifixion is basically irrelevant to
For a successful theodicy, see Charles Hartshorne, The Divine
Relativity, etc. H's idea is that to get a morally acceptable
picture of God in relation to evil one has to give up some of the
traditional attributes (i.e. can't keep both absolute goodness and
absolute power). It's quite a brilliant treatment, and does not rely
on empty predication like "the best that can be thought."
Re Milton intending the Father to look mean, etc, I do not at all
agree with my friend Peter H. This is why the notion of M writing
"in fetters" (Blake) when he wrote of God, and unconsciously
critiquing his own overt system of beliefs (Shelley) are so powerful.
The rational-choice model of theodicy has many problems, but it is
definitely the one M chose. I think that there's lots of bad writing
in the treatment of God and heaven in PL. Again, I would refer folks
to my essay on why Eden is better than heaven (writing about Eden, M
was not in fetters).
And, of course, Steve F is right about M's Arminianism and rationalism.
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