[Milton-L] "Traditional" attributes of God in PL

Michael Bryson michael.bryson at csun.edu
Mon Jul 31 09:21:56 EDT 2006

This was an interesting quote. Certain kinds of argument, apparently:

"reveal that one's intent is only to attack Milton's representation of traditional attributes of God in PL."

Now this is, I think, a crucial point. I do not believe, having read Professor Herman's book, that its argument is an *attack* on Milton's representation of anything. (I would encourage others others here, besides Professor Leonard of course, to read this book. There is a good deal more to it than the point being hashed out here. In fact, much of the conversation we have been having here fits brilliantly with the book's analysis of paradigms in Milton scholarship.) 

I know that in my own relatively recent book my argument was not an attack on "Milton's representation of traditional attributes of God in PL." My sense is that it is *Milton* who is mounting such an attack, both creating a kind of idol or icon and then doing the work of an iconoclast with his poetry. And yes, I do think that there is demonstrable evidence that he could have expected at least his "fit audience ... though few" to understand an iconoclastic approach, to share the idea that "God, as he really is, is far beyond man’s imagination, let alone his understanding" (CPW 6:133; look, for one example, to the renewed interest in apophatic theology as evidenced by John Everard's translation of Pseudo-Dionysius into English). This is hardly an idea that would have required access to the manuscript of DDC for his fit though few to recognize. In the context of such an idea, then, "traditional attributes of God" would seem to be ripe for inclusion in the category of "a double tyrannie, of Custom from without and blind affections within" (CPW 3:190). Tradition, human "Custom," "blind affections" which can result in a refusal (or inability) to see past one's icons--be they human or be they "divine" dressed in the trappings of human ideas--this is what I argue *Milton* "attacks."

With that, I must thank everyone here for a stimulating conversation, and get back to work. I have been neglecting other things too long while so enjoyably engaged here. Thanks very much to all.

Michael Bryson

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