[Milton-L] pre-fallen knowledge of sin

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Tue Jul 1 18:44:07 EDT 2008

Amen, Richard. In fact, he does quite the opposite: that's the whole 
point of free will--that one is free to make an *informed* choice. 
They know exactly what they're doing--and do it anyway.

Best to all,

Carol Barton

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "richard strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 6:18 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] pre-fallen knowledge of sin

> It is simply not true that "prior to the fall, there was no
> sin to observe."  It is true that "Adam and Eve did not see
> other people sinning," but I take it that the whole point of
> Raphael's narration of the war in heaven is meant to inform
> Adam (and Eve, whether or not she hears the thing directly or
> indirectly) about what sin is, and in some detail. Many
> negative things can be and have been said about Milton's God
> (some of them by me), but that He intended to keep Adam and
> Eve ignorant of sin and Satan is not one of them.
> ---- Original message ----
>>Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2008 17:15:55 -0400
>>From: "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
>>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)
>>To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-
> l at lists.richmond.edu>
> &gt;Michael and Carol: I tried to explain these distinctions
> from my
> &gt;divorce example in my previous post, but perhaps I was
> not clear.  The
> &gt;primary distinction I see in the Genesis account is that
> prior to the
> &gt;fall, there was only one command, and all moral reasoning
> and
> &gt;principles were embodied in that command, while after the
> fall there
> &gt;were multiple commands, multiple principles, and far more
> complex
> &gt;contexts.  Furthermore, prior to the fall, there was no
> sin to observe
> &gt;-- Adam and Eve did not see other people sinning.
> &gt;
> &gt;Consider the current extent of prohibitions and relevant
> moral laws.
> &gt;Moses issued ten commandments (let's forget the entire
> ceremonial and
> &gt;civil law for the moment); Jesus internalized them
> (although there's
> &gt;an element of internalization in the Mosaic law as well,
> for example,
> &gt;do not covet); Adam and Eve only had one rule which
> served as the
> &gt;entire moral law: do not eat of the fruit of the tree of
> knowledge.
> &gt;How can there be a division between the rule of
> conscience, rule of
> &gt;reason, and rule of law when there is only one rule?
> &gt;
> &gt;As a result, I don't think it's relevant to compare
> prelapsarian Adam
> &gt;and Eve to either Jesus or my own teenage daughters
> (yes, I have
> &gt;two), and what I considered as a possibility between
> reasoned
> &gt;disobedience and blind obedience works only for Adam and
> Eve, not for
> &gt;Jesus or my teenage daughters.  Both Christ and my
> daughters have a
> &gt;history to confront, and sin to observe in the people
> around them (not
> &gt;me! --ha)  -- Adam and Eve did not -- my daughters are
> fallen (Adam
> &gt;and Eve were not yet), etc.  Now, when I say Milton may
> have been
> &gt;Christianizing Adam and Eve, he may be having them act
> and think as if
> &gt;they had this history, this knowledge, these divisions,
> etc. -- when
> &gt;really, all they had was a single prohibition.
> &gt;
> &gt;To put it more simply, if Adam and Eve were not commanded
> not to think
> &gt;about eating the fruit, not to resolve to eat the fruit,
> not to touch
> &gt;the fruit, not to discuss the fruit, etc. -- only
> commanded not to eat
> &gt;the fruit -- how can they be said to have sinned before
> they actually
> &gt;ate the fruit?  Yes, of course, mental acts precede
> physical ones, but
> &gt;mental acts have not been forbidden -as of this point-,
> only a
> &gt;physical act: eating the fruit.
> &gt;
> &gt;Christ's teachings, on the other hand, clearly forbid
> mental acts such
> &gt;as lust and hatred, and the Mosaic law forbids coveting.
> To apply
> &gt;these standards -- demands for perfect mental obedience
> as well as
> &gt;physical obedience --  to Adam and Eve is therefore to
> "Christianize"
> &gt;them.  So this leads me to my question again -- did
> Milton see a
> &gt;difference between the Christian and the unfallen Adam
> and Eve, or did
> &gt;he believe that to become a Christian was to return to
> the state Adam
> &gt;and Eve were in before the fall?  Diane posted an
> interesting
> &gt;quotation from OCD about regeneration, but it was unclear
> to me from
> &gt;that short quotation if Milton understood regeneration as
> a process or
> &gt;as something that happens instantaneously with perfect
> and complete
> &gt;results upon reception of the Holy Spirit.
> &gt;
> &gt;Jim R
> &gt;
> &gt;On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 11:02 AM, Michael Gillum &
> lt;mgillum at unca.edu&gt; wrote:
> &gt;&gt; Jim Rovira, could you explain a bit more what you
> mean by Milton
> &gt;&gt; Christianizing unfallen Adam and Eve? I'm not
> following.
> &gt;_______________________________________________
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> Richard Strier
> Department of English
> University of Chicago
> 1115 East 58th Street
> Chicago, IL 60637
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