[Milton-L] Is Eve seeking temptation?

Arlene Stiebel amstiebel at verizon.net
Mon Sep 7 14:49:24 EDT 2009


Good point.  But intellectual knowledge (or an abstract awareness of
something not understood) is proven by events not to be "sufficient" to
preserve a prelapsarian innocence.  It is one thing to know "about" evil;
quite another to be confronted with it, recognize it and have the ability to
deal with it.  Eve's only hope, I think, would be NOT to trust in reason,
but simply and absolutely to obey God's prohibition.  But that undermines
Milton's argument for free will. 

 

--Arlene

 

  _____  

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Horace Jeffery
Hodges
Sent: Monday, September 07, 2009 11:29 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Is Eve seeking temptation?

 


Is the experience of having sinned essential to a knowledge of what sin is?
Milton doesn't think so, and he presents Adam and Eve as having an
intellectual knowledge of evil. Their experience of evil in themselves
actually impairs their understanding of what sin is, as Milton would have
it. The prelapsarian couple speak of evil, using words like "temptation," so
they must in some way know what temptation means -- or, at least, Milton
thinks so -- unless they are merely mouthing words.

 

Precisely what Milton understood by an intellectual knowledge of evil in
individuals who had never experienced evil in themselves, however, is an
interesting question.

 

Jeffery Hodges

 

--- On Mon, 9/7/09, Arlene Stiebel <amstiebel at verizon.net> wrote:


From: Arlene Stiebel <amstiebel at verizon.net>
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Is Eve seeking temptation?
To: "'John Milton Discussion List'" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Monday, September 7, 2009, 12:22 PM


Poor Eve. No one has ever lied to her before, and she doesn't yet have  
the experience to determine when someone (the father of lies) does.   
Certainly she has the strength to "stand" but lacks the perspicacity to
discern temptation when it presents itself.  (It's easy for Jesus in the
desert -- he knows what he's looking at.)

How sadly ironic that only having the wisdom provided by the fruit of the
tree could have provided her the knowledge needed to withstand the
"temptation" to eat the fruit of the tree. Her innocence makes her
credulous, not proud nor disobedient.  Carol might "know" not to eat
chocolates, but Eve has no concept of temptation. If she had recognized it,
she probably would have been able to resist.  Who among us has not been lied
to by someone we thought we could trust -- and acted on it.  If we want to
"blame" someone, blame the God who created her innocent and then instituted
a prohibition she was not equipped to maintain.

Try as he might to "justify", Milton cannot get around the old origins of
evil argument.  And so, it seems, neither can we.

--Arlene

-----Original Message-----
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
<http://us.mc546.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=milton-l-bounces@lists.richmon
d.edu> 
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
<http://us.mc546.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=milton-l-bounces@lists.richmon
d.edu> ] On Behalf Of srevard at siue.edu
<http://us.mc546.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=srevard@siue.edu> 
Sent: Monday, September 07, 2009 6:21 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Is Eve seeking temptation?

I do not deny that the question of temptation comes into the
argument, but I still think it is a mistake to say that Eve
is seeking temptation when she separates from Adam. What she
is countering after Adam brings up the question of temptation
is the question whether she, should a tempter appear, would
be strong enough to resist him.  She says she would be, and
further argues that both must be sufficient, whether together
or alone, to resist temptation, should it come.
That to me is not to seek temptation--even that is what Adam
accuses her of doing.
Indeed, when she goes off to prop up those rose, the whole
notion of temptation or a tempter goes right out of her head.
She should not have forgotten Adam's warnings, but she does.
If she were seeking temptation, she should have been more
alert when the serpent starts to spin his arguments.
She has the opportunity to resist temptation, as she says
she would do, and she blows it.

Stella Revard

Quoting John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca
<http://us.mc546.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=jleonard@uwo.ca> >:

> Stella says that "Eve is not seeking trial," to which Gardner replies "I
> think she is."  When two very fine Miltonists disagree on a question as
> fundamental as this, we can sure something interesting is happening in the
> text.  My own view is halfway between Stella and Gardner.  I do not think
> that Eve is initially seeking temptation when she proposes to work
> separately.  She just wants to get the work done more efficicently.  Satan
> is not even on her mind in her first speech (9.205-225).  But when Adam
> suggests that she might be wiser to stay by his side. . . . THAT is the
> turning point.  Eve is hurt:
>
> But that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt
> To God or thee, because we have a foe
> May tempt it, I expected not to hear. (9.279-81)
>
> >From this moment on Eve is seeking temptation.  But she wasn't before.
>
> John
>
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