[Milton-L] Abdiel

Peter C. Herman herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu
Wed Jun 25 13:45:39 EDT 2008

At 10:33 AM 6/25/2008, you wrote:
>Yes, Peter. (Under James II, I believe: he was terrified of assassination.)

Actually, it happened much earlier, either under Henry VIII or 
Elizabeth, I forget which.


>pace Bill Hunter's blessed ghost, if we factor in Milton's 
>definition of "sin" in DDC, the thought alone is not enough. Even 
>sin itself "is not properly an act," if I recall his argument 
>correctly. (It's the negation.)
>Best to all,
>----- Original Message ----- From: "Peter C. Herman" <herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu>
>To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:28 PM
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Abdiel
>>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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