[Milton-L] Re: Eve seeking temptation

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Mon Sep 7 18:17:53 EDT 2009

For Adam, yes, Arlene--but not for God. God (in the context in which Milton had no choice but to work) is a loving parent who constantly tests his children to see how much they've learned about his love. The point of the trial of the Tree (is, as someone else pointed out long ago, though to my shame I no longer remember who it was) is **arbitrary**--it's a trivial thing that God asks of the Human Pair, given the bounty of Eden. They aren't physically hungry, they aren't in want or need of any kind, and it shouldn't matter to them whether they eat of the fruit of that tree or not--except that it's the one thing God has asked them not to do.

They have no reason to believe God would deprive them unnecessarily of something they would enjoy--no reason to believe he would ask them to pass a test for which they had no preparation--no reason to doubt his benevolence toward them, or his intent to give them all the happiness they can stand. And no reason to believe that (as the Serpent suggests) he means to harm them in any way, even to keep them slaves to his own glory.

In other words, Eve has no reason to accept the Serpent's arguments over God's interdiction--except that the Serpent promises to give her something God hasn't: "the maisterie" (pace Chaucer) over Adam ("And render me more equal . . . for inferior who is free?")

Thank you for a good and important question. There have been many attempts to answer it in the past--but it's still susceptible of argument, nonetheless.

Best to all,

Carol Barton
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