[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Tue Jul 1 17:15:55 EDT 2008

Michael and Carol: I tried to explain these distinctions from my
divorce example in my previous post, but perhaps I was not clear.  The
primary distinction I see in the Genesis account is that prior to the
fall, there was only one command, and all moral reasoning and
principles were embodied in that command, while after the fall there
were multiple commands, multiple principles, and far more complex
contexts.  Furthermore, prior to the fall, there was no sin to observe
-- Adam and Eve did not see other people sinning.

Consider the current extent of prohibitions and relevant moral laws.
Moses issued ten commandments (let's forget the entire ceremonial and
civil law for the moment); Jesus internalized them (although there's
an element of internalization in the Mosaic law as well, for example,
do not covet); Adam and Eve only had one rule which served as the
entire moral law: do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
How can there be a division between the rule of conscience, rule of
reason, and rule of law when there is only one rule?

As a result, I don't think it's relevant to compare prelapsarian Adam
and Eve to either Jesus or my own teenage daughters  (yes, I have
two), and what I considered as a possibility between reasoned
disobedience and blind obedience works only for Adam and Eve, not for
Jesus or my teenage daughters.  Both Christ and my daughters have a
history to confront, and sin to observe in the people around them (not
me! --ha)  -- Adam and Eve did not -- my daughters are fallen (Adam
and Eve were not yet), etc.  Now, when I say Milton may have been
Christianizing Adam and Eve, he may be having them act and think as if
they had this history, this knowledge, these divisions, etc. -- when
really, all they had was a single prohibition.

To put it more simply, if Adam and Eve were not commanded not to think
about eating the fruit, not to resolve to eat the fruit, not to touch
the fruit, not to discuss the fruit, etc. -- only commanded not to eat
the fruit -- how can they be said to have sinned before they actually
ate the fruit?  Yes, of course, mental acts precede physical ones, but
mental acts have not been forbidden -as of this point-, only a
physical act: eating the fruit.

Christ's teachings, on the other hand, clearly forbid mental acts such
as lust and hatred, and the Mosaic law forbids coveting.  To apply
these standards -- demands for perfect mental obedience as well as
physical obedience --  to Adam and Eve is therefore to "Christianize"
them.  So this leads me to my question again -- did Milton see a
difference between the Christian and the unfallen Adam and Eve, or did
he believe that to become a Christian was to return to the state Adam
and Eve were in before the fall?  Diane posted an interesting
quotation from OCD about regeneration, but it was unclear to me from
that short quotation if Milton understood regeneration as a process or
as something that happens instantaneously with perfect and complete
results upon reception of the Holy Spirit.

Jim R

On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 11:02 AM, Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu> wrote:
> Jim Rovira, could you explain a bit more what you mean by Milton
> Christianizing unfallen Adam and Eve? I'm not following.

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