[Milton-L] Help with a pedagogical question

Patricia Taylor patricia.r.taylor at gmail.com
Thu Oct 1 12:33:09 EDT 2009

The question of whether it is acceptable to use the term "Christ" seems to
me to be a bizarre one in reference to Herbert, given that the student is
using a term that the poet himself uses regularly throughout *The Temple*.
It might not be in that particular poem, but it doesn't seem out of context
to draw language from the rest of the book to help describe what the student
sees is happening.  The question might be more pertinent in a discussion of,
say, *Paradise Lost* or *Paradise Regained*, if the student was replacing
"The Son" with "Christ."  There, we could suggest to students that they
might be better off sticking more closely to the text.  If Milton never uses
the term Christ in the poem, we would need a good reason for calling the Son
that.  But if the student is allowing the language set out by the poet to
guide his or her own choices, how can we say that this is improper?
Regardless of whether one is a Christian or not, a good rule seems to me to
be to encourage students to talk about texts using the language the text
provides, unless a student has a good reason for not doing so.

Patricia Taylor
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