[Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana

jonnyangel junkopardner at comcast.net
Wed Jan 14 18:38:25 EST 2009

On 1/14/09 5:15 PM, "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:

> When I wrote that the "If" in "If I foreknew" was interesting, I meant that
> Milton might have God alluding to the fact that His knowledge isn't really
> foreknowledge for Himself. After all, why the word "If"? Milton could have
> constructed the remark in a different way.
> Jeffery Hodges

Sorry, I was in hurry. This thread has been getting into some deep, deep
theological waters and they can (and will) only get deeper with your
suggestion that Milton might have been alluding to God's knowledge not being
foreknowledge for himself (with the "if").

The primary problem being the argument(s) of God's "inherent" Omniscience
versus the long held belief of God's "total" Omniscience. In PL, _did_ God
(in Book III) _choose_ to foreknow (inherent - the implication being that he
could have chosen not to) or did God just "know" (totally)?

I believe that Milton was a believer in God's "total" Omniscience, because
as far ahead (and contextually heretical) of his times as he was, I don't
think he was _that_ far ahead (as "total" vs. "inherent" Omniscience is
pretty modern). I also see nowhere in Milton's work where one could argue
that he believed that God was "self-limiting" in an inherently Omniscient

God in Book III of PL comes off as somewhat indignant, but his anger seems
(to me) symptomatic of his hurt, feelings of betrayal, and pain. This
reading would suggest that Milton's God _was_ inherently Omniscience. But
the real rub is God's "foreknowledge" of the pending transgression:

"For man will heark'n to his glozing lyes,/And easily transgress the sole
Command" (PL: III: 93-4).

Did Milton believe that God _chose_ to see this, or that he just sees and
knows everything "totally"? I personally believe that Milton viewed God as
_totally_ Omniscient.

On an interesting (or perhaps not) side note, I always saw God's "ingrate"
speech applying to Satan first, and Adam second: after all, God had already
been through the pain of betrayal (and subsequent fall) before.

Just my two cents (and one them is Canadian, so keep that one because it's
worth 3 American). 


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