[Milton-L] Abdiel

Peter C. Herman herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu
Wed Jun 25 13:28:46 EDT 2008

I do not have the precise referents at hand, but I wonder if the 
changes in early modern treason law might be applicable to this 
discussion. If I am remembering correctly, the law was changed to 
include "compassing" the king's death. In other words, whereas all 
other crimes required a guilty act and a guilty intention, treason 
required only a guilty intention. Simply thinking about it was enough 
for conviction. Perhaps that is the case in PL as well. Sin may not 
necessarily involve an act: merely "approving" would be enough.


At 10:10 AM 6/25/2008, you wrote:
>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.
> >
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