[Milton-L] The Son's role and necessity

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Mon Jul 31 12:23:32 EDT 2006

John Rumrich's post made me think of an article by Stephen Fallon which
locates Milton's work in the context of EM debates about whether or not God
is constrained by necessity. It's entitled "'To Act or Not': Milton's
Conception of Divine Freedom," and it appears in JHI 49 (1988), no. 3, pp.
425-49. I admit I haven't read it in a while, but it seemed very useful in
arguing (as I recall) that Milton's God operates freely, i.e., unconstrained
by necessity, as Prof. Rumrich also argues in his post. As always, I welcome
any correction to my presentation of his ideas that Prof. Fallon would like
to make. But this seems to be a slightly different definition of "necessary"
than Richard Strier's "required by the theology of the poem." Prof.
Rumrich's argument that the method of salvation is extemporized by the
Father and the Son suggests, at least to me, that we may need to ask the
following question: how does Milton's insistence on divine freedom color his
presentation of God in PL? In other words, does Milton carry said insistence
so far as not to impose an external theological constraint on God in the
poem? Is the theology/soteriology of PL extemporaneous and internal or
"necessary" and external?

Two caveats: first, we may not be able to answer these questions (again, I'm
new at this, and I just don't know enough at this juncture); second, I
realize that we may all be a little battle-weary and thus not particularly
thrilled at carrying this conversation further. Did anyone get the license
plate on that flaming chariot?

Jason A. Kerr

"Den som vover mister Fodfæste et Øieblick;
den som ikke vover mister Livet."
                                    -Søren Kierkegaard
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