[Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana

Cristine Soliz csoliz at csoliz.com
Tue Jan 6 10:54:09 EST 2009


Some might think this banal, but I consider PL more sociological and
cultural than religious, although Milton was addressing Christians and the
evolution of their theology and practice. Rather than being a Christian
poem, though, I read it as a poem about christianity and religion in
general and the social practices that the theological stances logically
imply.

cristina

-- 
Dr. Cristine Soliz
Visiting Assistant Professor
Colorado State University-Pueblo
Project Director, NEH Grant
http://dchumanities.org/
Area Chair Historical Fiction, SW Tex Pop Culture and Am Culture Assoc
Associate Scholar, Center for World Indigenous Studies
http://csoliz.com
csoliz at csoliz.com

> For what it's worth, I agree strongly with both John Leonard and Larry
> Isitt:
>
> I think John is quite right that many interesting, profitable, and
> productive interpretive questions and challenges arise when one reads PL
> and DDC in conjunction with one another, especially because they were
> written, so far as I can tell, contemporaneously.  That juxtaposition can
> prove profoundly informative and enlightening.  I think, too, that John
> Rumrich and Maurice Kelley have identified responsible ways by which to
> interpret those texts accurately and well.
>
> I think Larry is right to say that PL is Arian and that the evolution in
> Milton's theology was largely complete when the poem and treatise were
> written.  Nothing in Paradise Regained or in Of True Religion makes me
> think otherwise, and many things in them confirm it -- things like Milton
> insisting in PR that paradise was regained by successfully resisting
> temptation (which Gegg and Groh demonstate to be part of Arian
> soteriology), and Milton's exclusion of Arianism from the list of things
> he thinks are heretical (in OTR).
>
> Michael
> ________________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Larry Isitt
> [isitt at cofo.edu]
> Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 10:07 AM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: RE: [Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana
>
> Johnny,
> The brand of heresy regarding the Son, so far as these brands are
> represented in the negative anathemaas against anti-Trinitarianism
> sometimes attached to the positive articles defining the Trinity in
> Reformation confessions of faith the likes of the 1530 Augsburg and the
> Anglican 39 Articles and the Westminster 1647, all of which endorse in
> various wording the sense of Nicea 325 and Constantinople 381, is not as
> important as realizing that once one leaves off the Nicene definition and
> adopts something else to define the Son, be it ancient gnosticism or 17th
> century Socinianism and all others inbetween, one as it were falls off a
> high plateau into a valley the high end of which is Arianism (as it comes
> closest to endorsing the Son as deity) and the gradient falling off lower
> and lower as the variant definitions lower the Son more and more to the
> end of being just and only a man.
>
> PL best fits the Arian definition of the Son and reflects closely that
> same Arian picture to be found in De Doctrina wherein Milton states that
> he has nothing against the Son being called God, just not the supreme God
> (Yale 6.245). A Socinian would never admit this as for Socinus the Son is
> a man only.
>
> The "shifting theology" to which you refer, and the analogy to a flowing
> stream, are not valid so far as this epic is dealt with historically and
> not subjectively from the viewpoint of a reader. Milton meant something
> definite in 1667 and that is what we have. The shifting he went through
> certainly but that was done much earlier when he left off Nicene orthodoxy
> (found in his "trinal unity" of the Nativity Ode, for example) to pursue
> his rationalistic thought. He lost orthodoxy long before he composed PL
> and the De Doctrina.
>
> Larry
>
> ________________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of jonnyangel
> [junkopardner at comcast.net]
> Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2009 1:44 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana
>
> I'm inclined to ask Michael's questions on Kim's post: if PL isn't
> Trinitarian nor Arian, then what is it?
>
> The reason I asked the question of DDC authorship is because I've been
> reading the controversy and just wanted to get the lists opinion and see
> what the consensus was regarding this issue. I've recently started reading
> DDC because I wanted to save it for last, thinking it might unlock some
> doors in Milton's writing, but it seems Milton was theologically all over
> the road and was never truly static.
>
> There are elements of Arianism in there for sure, but I also read in some
> old crusty book in the library that he was (to some degree) a Socinian
> which
> I can see to a very small degree. When speaking with my Milton professor
> last semester about Milton's shifting theology, the line from Areopagitica
> where Milton states that " Truth is compar'd in Scripture to a streaming
> fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetuall progression, they sick'n
> into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition." kept coming up time and
> time
> again.
>
> It seems (to me) as though his theological views in particular were
> flowing
> in "perpetual progression", and he's hard to pin down. DDC frustrates me
> because it could just be where Milton was at the time he wrote it, and who
> knows precisely about before, after and all the points in between. It
> seems
> like he was always reaching for the "truth" (objective truth) in a
> "perpetual progression".
>
> I'm not closed off to Kim's idea that PL is "something else entirely"
> because Milton's theology seems to fit that description very well.
>
> Thanks for all the responses and I look forward to hearing (and thinking)
> more about DDC and how it fits/doesn't fit with Milton's body of work.
>
> Shalom,
>
> Jonny
>
>
>
>
> On 1/3/09 12:18 PM, "Michael Bauman" <mbauman at hillsdale.edu> wrote:
>
>> Kim,
>> I'm interested to hear precisely what  PL is if it is "neither
>> Trinitarian nor
>> Arian, but something else entirely."  What theological category are you
>> invoking with "something else entirely"?
>>
>> I wonder what you mean when you say that an epic poem designed to
>> "justify the
>> ways of God to man," one that deals with things like creation,
>> temptation,
>> heaven, hell, angels, demons, Satan, predestination and the fall, and
>> that
>> contains a lengthy and detailed summary of the entire Bible, "is not
>> doctrinal
>> at all," to some unspecified "degree."  I'm confused about how PL is not
>> doctrinal at all -- to some degree.
>>
>> I'm puzzled about why you say that the notes to Carey's translation are
>> a
>> better guide to PL and De Doctrina than Kelley since, if I remember
>> correctly,
>> the notes to the Yale Prose version of De Doctrina are almost all by
>> Maurice
>> Kelley, and in them he teaches the same points in almost always the same
>> fashion that he did earlier in his This Great Argument.
>>
>> The Son is not "the sole cause of Creation" in PL.  See 3:167, 5:836,
>> 7:163ff,
>> etc.
>>
>> Michael Bauman
>> ________________________________________
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Kim Maxwell
>> [kmaxwell at stanford.edu]
>> Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 9:40 AM
>> To: John Milton Discussion List
>> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana
>>
>> Another point of view.
>>
>> In his latest work on the subject, Michael Lieb suggests the word
>> ³conversation² as the academic relationship between PL and DCC, one that
>> admits inconsistencies between them but resists sorting either out in
>> terms of
>> the other.  Given what has happened since Kelly, it is hard not to read
>> his
>> book as Procrustean and selective.  I personally find the footnotes in
>> Carey¹s
>> translation in the Yale Prose to be a better introduction to how DCC and
>> PL
>> converse than Kelly.  Furthermore, I would defend the word on the
>> grounds that
>> DCC provides means of understanding the degree to which PL is not
>> doctrinal at
>> all, rather than the means by which either might improve our
>> understanding of
>> the other¹s doctrine.  For example,  in DCC Milton makes it clear that
>> God is
>> unitary and unchangeable, and hence cannot duplicate himself or transfer
>> all
>> of his powers to a second, inferior God (the Son).  To work around the
>> obvious
>> complications such a view entails regarding the Creation and the openi!
>>  ng of John, he makes a careful distinction between ³creation by² and
>> ³creation through² in his DCC chapter on the subject, allocating to the
>> Son
>> only the formal cause of the universe.  Whether this works or not  is
>> not
>> important to its read on  PL, where the Son does have all the powers of
>> God
>> (³second omnipotence²) and is the sole cause of the Creation, said
>> explicitly
>> to be ³by² the Son, a position only possible on a Trinitarian or
>> polytheistic
>> account of the Godhead, both of which DCC denies.  I think DCC helps see
>> the
>> many ways in which PL is both Trinitarian and not Trinitarian, and hence
>> is
>> neither Trinitarian nor Arian, but something else entirely.
>>
>> Kim Maxwell
>>
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>
>
>
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