[Milton-L] potestas ordinata, potestas absoluta, reason, and arbitratry commands

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 13 03:19:25 EDT 2008

Jim concerning your remark:

Note the distinction is between "the holy and the common," not "the holy and the evil."
Actually, the distinction is fourfold -- holy, common, impure, and pure. The holy is a dynamic force associated with God (or an originally common thing that has been purified and set apart for God). The common (also translated "profane") is the substance of the world. The impure is a dynamic force opposed to God. The pure is characteristic of that which not contaminated with impurity.
That which is "evil" falls under the "impure" . . . in my opinion.
Thus, the New Testament refers to "impure" spirits, who are identified with evil demons. And the scapegoat of Yom Kippur in Leviticus 16 carries the impurity of the people to "Azazel," sometimes identified as an evil demon:
As for the arbitrary command concerning the tree of knowledge, you're simply using "arbitrary" in a different sense than Professor Skulsky and me, so we're talking past each other.
Jeffery Hodges

--- On Sat, 7/12/08, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] potestas ordinata, potestas absoluta, reason, and arbitratry commands
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Saturday, July 12, 2008, 9:25 PM

Note the distinction is between "the holy and the common," not,
holy and the evil."  The point is that the people of God are set apart
by and for God -- bride metaphors are a propos here -- so distinguish
themselves through purification practices.  Whatever utilitarian
benefit these had is, I agree, besides the point.  Many of the
ceremonial and civil laws do seem arbitrary (though not all).

But once you associate an object with evil -- such as the forbidden
fruit -- the command forbidding it is no longer arbitrary:  the point
of all commandments is to avoid evil, both in the sense of
"undesirable consequence" and "moral evil."  I think we
carefully and consistently separate these two definitions for evil,
though, even though our language tends to conflate them.  The Hebrew
God is not associated with any moral evil: the Hebrew religion is not
a dualist or gnostic religion, but is what is being attacked by later
gnostic religions.  That is the point of having only one God: the one
God alone must be the sole source of all that is created and the only

Jim R
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