[Milton-L] Abdiel

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Thu Jun 26 21:25:08 EDT 2008


Your comments and also Dennis's are quite helpful.  Thanks.

I don't think I meant to deny the role of thinking in temptation.  There's
obviously a gestation period, as indicated in the brief biblical allegory about
Sin and Death that Milton puts to use:  "But every man is tempted, when he is
drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it
bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James



Quoting Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu>:

> Here is what the Christian Doctrine (1.11) has to say about sins of thought
> (insert standard caveat).
> 1. Sin is ³transgression of the law² but the law includes the ³rule of
> conscience² as well as the ³special command² not to eat of the tree (Works
> vol. 15, 179-80). [I suppose, for Milton, the rule of conscience is the same
> as right reason, ³our reason is our law.² It dictates, among other things,
> gratitude and obedience toward God. Anyway, the prohibition of the tree is
> not the only rule.]
> 2.  Sin consists of two parts, ³whether we term them gradations, divisions,
> or modes of sin, or whether we consider them in the light of cause and
> effect; namely, evil concupiscence, or the desire of sinning, and in the act
> of sin itself.² ³Evil concupiscence is that of which our original parents
> were first guilty. .  .² (193). ³. . . Actual Sin. This may be  incurred,
> not only by actions commonly so called, but also by words and thoughts, and
> even by the omissions of good actions² (199).
> Milton¹s scheme of psychology/morality is highly rationalistic. ³Evil in the
> mind may come² through various processes, but the faculty of reason is
> supposed to examine thoughts and sort them into right and wrong. Wrong
> thoughts, if ³unapproved,² are not sin; if embraced past a certain point,
> they are sin. Again, I think Satan¹s coupling with his daughter nicely
> expresses the idea of ³approval.² Abdiel receives wrong ideas from Satan,
> processes then correctly, and rejects them. Adam is aware that his reverence
> for Eve is excessive, and brackets these ideas (³she seems. . .²) so that
> they aren¹t quite fully ³approved.² Thus Millicent Bell may go too far in
> characterizing them as sinful or fallen. It is only when he finally decides
> to choose Eve over God that his thought becomes sinful. But I think he does
> sin before he eats. In the speech he makes to Eve after his decision, his
> reason seems already corrupted to rationalizing.
> Even unfallen reason can err, and Eve¹s reason is overpowered and misled by
> Satan¹s rhetoric. She may actually believe that she is choosing rightly
> according to the rule of conscience or reason. But she deliberately disobeys
> the other part of the law, the ³special command.² And she ³approves² Satan¹s
> characterization of God as a tyrant. So I think she also sins before she
> eats. That¹s why I suggested earlier that Eve¹s and Adam¹s monologues
> express a condition of ³falling² as opposed to unfallen or fallen.
> Michael

Jameela Lares, Ph.D.
Professor of English
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
601 266-6214 ofc
601 266-5757 fax

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