[Milton-L] Milton and Sin

Judith H. Anderson anders at indiana.edu
Fri Jun 27 18:58:04 EDT 2008

Please forgive my being out of immediate sequence, but I have hesitated to 
inject the following, for your consideration, into the previous 
interesting discussion of Milton's conception of sin. I have assumed that 
someone else would do so, but here it is:

In Christian Doctrine, Milton defines evil--that is, sin--as an oblique or 
perverse action, which can include words, thoughts, or even the omission 
of good action. Privation is the resulting punishment of evil, or sin, in 
Milton's view. Milton, Christian Doctrine, in Complete Prose Works, VI, 
ed. Maurice Kelley, trans. John Carey (New Haven, CT: Yale University 
Press, 1973), 388991, here 391 (I.xi). In De Doctrina Christiana, the 
Latin reads, "sola eius [i.e., actionis] obliquitas sive anomalia a legis 
norma proprie mala est": The Works of John Milton, XIV-XVII, ed. James 
Holly Hanford and Waldo Hilary Dunn, trans. Charles R. Sumner (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1933), XV, 198. Carey's translation (the more 
accurate one in this instance) reads, "it is only its [the action's] 
misdirection or deviation from the set course of law which can properly be 
called evil" (391).


Judith H. Anderson
Chancellor's Professor
Department of English
Indiana University
1020 E. Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-7103

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