[Milton-L] Abdiel

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Wed Jun 25 13:10:23 EDT 2008

James Rovira suggests Adam and Eve could only sin by acting against the sole
commandment, not by thinking. If we take Adam's statement as authoritative
-- "Evil into the mind of god or man / May come and go, so unapproved, and
leave / No spot or blame behind" -- doesn't that mean one could sin by
approving a wrong thought? If so, Adam sins with the thought, "Certain my
resolution is to die." Also, Satan gives birth to Sin before he takes overt
action. Having sex with her would then be taking "approval" up a notch.

I don't find any OED senses of "approve" that quite mean "act upon," though
some are close.

Could there be "spot or blame" short of the big fall and its consequences?
As Millicent Bell says, Milton had to endow Eve and Adam with some degree of
human weakness in order to motivate their actions, as God apparently did in
order to leave them "free to fall."


On 6/24/08 9:06 PM, "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

> Might want to be careful about importing Christian notions of
> fallenness into the Garden of Eden.  Thought and desire can be sin
> even as of the Mosaic law (do not covet), and sin in thought and
> desire is emphasized in the Sermon on the Mount, but the only command
> available to be broken for Adam and Eve was not to eat the fruit.  I
> don't think it's possible for them to have sinned until they
> physically acted.  It's also possible to commit wrong acts out of
> "right" motives -- the Genesis account ascribes the desire for wisdom
> (a positive motive) to Eve in her motivation to eat the fruit.  NT
> commentators claim that by thinking this Eve was deceived.  Adam's sin
> is worse, then, in that he deliberately chose to sin to remain with
> Eve.

More information about the Milton-L mailing list