[Milton-L] Re: Eve seeking temptation

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Tue Sep 8 17:04:28 EDT 2009

True, Marlene--but in the fallen world, parents know better than to engage in such tests (too many kids would fail them). 

I do think the benevolent parent/obedient child analogy is apt, and though in modern times we find such trials cruel and unusual, going back to Patient Griselde, literature is replete with them. Milton doesn't try to justify God's *right* to test Adam and Eve (and other than to say "he's God!" I doubt that he could do so if he wanted to). How, for example, do you explain why a benevolent father would ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, or ask Job to endure torment on a bet with the Devil, or ask Jesus to die by crucifixion, no matter what the ultimate reward of a "passing grade" might be? It's simply a given that God does such things--whether we (like Samson) deserve it, or don't. Eve knows nothing of such things, of course, but she and Adam have been forewarned that the price of disobedience is a high one.

I'm not sure we can say that God contrived the serpentine temptation, though. Still--to a fallen mind, A&E have to have a reason to *want it*, or their resistance to it proves nothing ("I'm giving up broccoli for Lent").

All best,

Carol Barton
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Marlene Edelstein 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 3:40 PM
  Subject: Re: Re: [Milton-L] Re: Eve seeking temptation

        Carol Barton wrote:

          Simply put, Eve's right use of her right reason would run something like this:

          God is good. He loves me, and has my best interests at heart. He shows me every minute of every day how much he values my happiness.
          God said not to do this.
          Anyone who tells me I ought to do it is wrong--or evil.
          Therefore, I should not do it.

          If you put it in the context of your teenager and drugs, no matter how many other kids tell him how great it is to get high on angel dust, and how his parents are stupid dorks who don't know a good thing when they see it, and how no one but they two will know that he's tried it, and he won't tell on him, and so on, you want your son to trust in your love and respect your wisdom enough to walk away. It doesn't make you a tyrant to forbid him to harm himself--it just makes you a good parent. And that's all God's doing with Adam and Eve.

          But is this a true analogy? God's ways can hardly be justified by drawing parallels to human motives. he drugs which parents try to warn their son against are out their in the world anyway: the parents didn't place them in his sight, as God places the fruit in the sight of A&E. Parents of teenagers would usually prefer the temptation not to exist, but God presumably contrived it, dangled it from the tree and then issued the injunction not to eat it. 


          believe everything, believe nothing



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