[Milton-L] Milton and Sin

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Mon Jun 30 15:05:55 EDT 2008

thanks, Judith.  And especially for the careful citation.  I love the CD, but I
am always aware that its provenance is always under a certain amount of
suspicion.  Maybe we should treat the Scriptures the same way?

Jim Watt
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Judith H. Anderson [anders at indiana.edu]
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2008 6:58 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and Sin

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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