[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Mon Jul 7 10:48:55 EDT 2008

I think the dream vs. the actual eating scenes are a bit different in
their presentation.  In the dream, Eve was abashed at Satan's open and
direct disobedience to God -- there didn't seem to be much moderating
of it, either.  When she finally did eat the fruit, it was as you
described, however -- the attraction of the fruit itself, and desire
for knowledge, and some doubt about the nature of the
command/punishment instilled in her by the serpent (deceit).  For
example, from Bk 9:

The good befall'n him, Author unsuspect,
Friendly to man, farr from deceit or guile.
What fear I then, rather what know to feare
Under this ignorance of good and Evil,
Of God or Death, of Law or Penaltie? [ 775 ]
Here grows the Cure of all, this Fruit Divine,
Fair to the Eye, inviting to the Taste,
Of vertue to make wise: what hinders then
To reach, and feed at once both Bodie and Mind?

This is very different from Satan appearing as an angel and saying in Bk 5:

Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
Longer thy offerd good, why else set here?
This said he paus'd not, but with ventrous Arme
He pluckt, he tasted; mee damp horror chil'd [ 65 ]
At such bold words voucht with a deed so bold:

"I don't care who forbids it, no one's going to stop me from eating
this good fruit!"  That's very different from the more subtle approach
in the actual temptation scene of Bk 9, although there are some
elements in common between the two.

So I think in the real temptation scene, there was desire for the
fruit as something good with some doubt about God's command, while in
the dream temptation scene, there was desire for the fruit as
something good with blatant disobedience to and disrespect for God's
command.  In the dream temptation, then, Eve would have been choosing
evil, deliberately, along with the fruit.  Thus the dream was more
horrifying.  Perhaps Satan had learned from the dream how better to
tempt Eve.

I'm not completely convinced by the argument that one needs rational
consent in order for an act to be sin, but more importantly, this does
not take into account the created perfection of unfallen Adam and Eve
and (perhaps) differences between prelapsarian human beings and
postlapsarian human beings.  If any unfallen human capacity desired
evil itself, then God is the author of desire for evil.  Unfallen
humans can only desire evil indirectly, mistaking it for something
good, not for itself when seeing it as it is.

Jim R

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