[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Tue Jul 1 10:24:35 EDT 2008

Jeffery Hodges and I seem to have almost the same view. By the way, Jeffery,
your other article on ³like one of us² is indeed visible outside Korea, and
it¹s a very interesting read.

I agree entirely with Carol¹s last post. I don¹t see any contradiction to my

Kim Maxwell raises some cogent objections. Regarding point 2, none of the
small mistakes and omissions count. This is how Jeffery and I disagree with
Millicent Bell¹s thesis. My view and (I think) Jeffery¹s is that the first
actual sins are deliberate mental ³acts² of disobedience toward God, clearer
perhaps in Adam¹s case than in the case of confused Eve. Regarding point 1,
I think Adam¹s mental rebellion does have an immediate ³untoward
consequence² that is noticeable in his subsequent speech to Eve. In DDC,
Milton explains that the punishment of ³death² incorporates all kinds of
physical, intellectual, and moral disorder that follow from sin¹s disrupting
the original order of the human creature. Thus the consequence of the Fall
is not a spanking by God but rather a self-undoing. So in Adam¹s speech to
Eve he dissembles his real feelings and thoughts, seems to praise Eve¹s
adventurousness (the first sarcasm?), ignores the responsibility to obey,
develops a specious argument that punishment might be avoided, etc. He is
already no longer his proper self.

Kim also writes, ³Note as well that god provides the umpire conscience after
the fall, not before.² I am not certain about the relation (in Milton¹s
thought) between conscience and moral reason, but so far I don¹t see any
clear difference. What do others understand? The Father says in 3.194 that
he will send the umpire conscience, but at the time of that statement A&E
haven¹t been created yet.  The context of the Father¹s statement does sound
like he will send conscience later as an aid to the fallen, but maybe not.
Clearly, A&E before the fall already have the reason that is their law. I am
arguing that Adam sinned against that law when he decided to disobey.
Whether or not unfallen reason is the same as regenerate conscience, they
have the same function, to identify what is right according to natural law
(which includes the duty of obedience to God).


On 6/30/08 8:07 PM, "Kim Maxwell" <kim-maxwell at sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> I can imagine two problems with the fall before the fall idea that to me make
> it difficult.  (1)  It presumes that the putative event was itself sufficient
> to be a transgression.  Yet no event before the actual eating of the fruit has
> an untoward consequence.  (2)  Adam and Eve make many small mistakes and
> omissions before the fall itself, any of which could be be linked to the
> event.  Does Adam letting Eve go in the Garden count? Or Eve's inclination to
> separate? Or Eve's Narcissus moment? Or Adam's inability to recognize the real
> peril of Eve's dream? Or Adam's confession to Raphael that he has ungoverned
> passions for Eve? Or Adam's persistent desires to know things after Raphael
> warns him repeatedly not to.  (all of these have been nominated by critics
> over time.)  I don't think the poem gives us one golden moment of failure
> before the fall, but rather suggests a sequence or a generic failure, which
> failures will ultimately get back to God if they constitute sin by themselves.
> I agree with Sara van den Berg, that thinking is a necessary component of sin
> itself not a prequel that stands on its own as sin.  Note as well that god
> provides the umpire conscience after the fall, not before.
> Kim Maxwell

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