[Milton-L] text questions

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Tue Feb 5 14:36:00 EST 2008

I'm still learning about all this, but Hannibal is right about discussion of
perfection being theologically charged. Geoffrey Nuttall's *The Holy Spirit
in Puritan Faith and Experience* begins to address the claims of human
perfectibility made by some on the radical fringes during the Interregnum (
e.g. certain Quakers and Ranters). Nigel Smith's *Perfection Proclaimed*
explores these fringes in more depth. These claims of perfectibility usually
depended on some idea of the human being elided through divine
intervention--what the Familists called "begoddedness." Such claims were, as
Hannibal rightly intuits, profoundly offensive to more orthodox believers in
human depravity, although the perfectionists seem to have believed in this
too--albeit as something that mystical experience of the divine could
overcome. Of course, pinning down Milton's theology (especially relative to
radical Puritanism) is a contentious affair (but aren't such things half the
fun of being on this list?). But my sense is that Milton isn't turning
wholesale from Calvinism in the end of Book 11, referring as he does to "Man
deprav'd." Anyway, this is one more aspect of the conversation about
perfection for listmembers more learned than I to take up.
Jason A. Kerr

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

          —Czeslaw Milosz, from "Ars Poetica?"
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