[Milton-L] Re: Eve seeking temptation

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Tue Sep 8 18:27:38 EDT 2009

Carol wonders whether Milton could justify God's right to test A&E. Adam,
speaking to Raphael, judges that the "command / Single, is yet so just"
(5.551-52). In conveying the command to Eve, he places it in the context of
their creation and other blessings, in return for which God asks "no other
service than to keep / This one, this easy charge. . ." (4. 412-21).
Following the command is a sign of their gratitude, obedience, and
faithfulness. The test seems perfectly reasonable to Adam.
I don't think Milton develops an argument along the lines of "because God is
God." Rather, he thinks God should be obeyed because God is good and right.
Satan turns Eve by leading her to question God's goodness. She had good
reason to know better.


On Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 5:04 PM, Carol Barton <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>wrote:

>  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
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