[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Tue Jul 1 18:07:47 EDT 2008

At the risk of quibbling, Jim: Adam and Eve cannot be "Christian," and 
neither can they govern their actions by New Testament precepts . . . 
they exist long before any such concepts (or for that matter, OT 
prohibitions) come into play, and cannot (retroactively) be subject to 
them, any more than we can (fairly) subject Milton to Kierkegaardian 
or Freudian or Jungian psychology, or to modern notions of 
colonialism, or to 21st century concepts of language, law, sociology, 
or morality. (Sorry to turn your own argument around on you, but there 
you are, then.)

For Adam and Eve, there was one opportunity to sin: eat the fruit of 
the Tree of Knowledge. Not to think about it; not to touch it; not to 
examine it; not even to imagine what it tasted like, or what its 
properties might be (though as fallen creatures, we recognize the 
dangers inherent in all of those "engagements" with it): "In the day 
ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die."

God's commandment is clear, unambiguous, and precise. Do X, and Y will 
happen. Not something like X--not something that might precipitate 
X--just X itself. Do Adam and Eve put themselves in jeopardy of X 
before committing the actual violation? Sure. But *did they sin* by 
flirting with disaster? I don't think you can say they did, given the 
terms of the problem.

God said no. Purely, simply. Do I have to have seen someone else sin 
to understand that concept? I don't think so.

"How can there be a division between the rule of conscience, rule of 
reason, and rule of law when there is only one rule?"


Carol Barton

---- Original Message ----- 
From: "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 5:15 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

> 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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