[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 3 20:57:53 EDT 2008

Jim, Adam and Eve have a knowledge of good and evil already before they eat the fruit of the tree. What they have prior to the fall is a conceptual knowledge of good and evil; otherwise, they would not even know that disobeying God's command is wrong. What they 'gain' from eating the forbidden fruit is an experiential knowledge of good and evil -- or, more properly put, an experiential knowledge of evil.
This is part of my argument in the article "Like One of Us."
As for the command not to eat being arbitrary, I mean that reason alone would not inform Adam and Eve that the tree should be avoided; otherwise, no special command would be necessary to forbid the tree. The tree is anomalous, an exception. God could have chosen some other thing to forbid, and breaking that command would have been wrong in that case rather than eating from the tree. But whatever God might choose to forbid as a test of Adam and Eve's moral resolve, He would have to reveal this prohibition to Adam and Eve; otherwise, they would be unaware of the prohibition, for reason alone would not grasp it.
In short, the command is arbitrary from the perspective of reason. That's part of the problem for Eve, as I noted earlier.
Jeffery Hodges

--- On Thu, 7/3/08, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

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>
Date: Thursday, July 3, 2008, 7:32 PM

Michael: I didn't mean to imply a discord between A and E's reason and
divine reason -- I think we both agree that, however "reason" is
understood, there ought to be a confluence between unfallen human
reason and divine reason.  Human capacities in either sense of the
word "reason" are working as God created them to work in this case.
The stress could fall on either "our" -- OUR reason is our law --
point is, an unfallen A and E didn't have to be told everything, just
to avoid the knowledge of good and evil, because whatever they desired
was right.  This is probably the source of the need for an external
tempter to lead them to fall.

Jeffery -- what other rules are there to be inferred that isn't summed
up by the prohibition to avoid the knowledge of good and evil?

I think once a tree has been said to communicate knowledge of good and
evil, we cannot say the command to avoid it is arbitrary.  Yes, of
course, disobedience to the command gives us this knowledge, not the
fruit itself.  But being associated with "evil" from the beginning,
it's not hard to see that this is something to be avoided.  This isn't
quite the same as me telling my teenage daughter not to go into the
basement when I'm not home.  If I call the basement the quarantine
area, suddenly it's not so arbitrary.

Jim R
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