[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Kim Maxwell kim-maxwell at sbcglobal.net
Mon Jun 30 20:07:38 EDT 2008

I can imagine two problems with the fall before the fall idea that to me make it difficult.  (1)  It presumes that the putative event was itself sufficient to be a transgression.  Yet no event before the actual eating of the fruit has an untoward consequence.  (2)  Adam and Eve make many small mistakes and omissions before the fall itself, any of which could be be linked to the event.  Does Adam letting Eve go in the Garden count? Or Eve's inclination to separate? Or Eve's Narcissus moment? Or Adam's inability to recognize the real peril of Eve's dream? Or Adam's confession to Raphael that he has ungoverned passions for Eve? Or Adam's persistent desires to know things after Raphael warns him repeatedly not to.  (all of these have been nominated by critics over time.)  I don't think the poem gives us one golden moment of failure before the fall, but rather suggests a sequence or a generic failure, which failures will ultimately get back to God if they constitute sin by
 themselves.  I agree with Sara van den Berg, that thinking is a necessary component of sin itself not a prequel that stands on its own as sin.  Note as well that god provides the umpire conscience after the fall, not before.

Kim Maxwell
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