[Milton-L] Re: "tasteless" Milton (response)

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Fri Dec 17 09:49:05 EST 2010

Nairba --

I think you're not fully grasping the diversity of Christian thought.  There
are Christian narratives in which the fall of Satan takes place after the
creation of the earth, and narratives in which the fall takes place before.
 There are Christian narratives that affirm freedom of the will, and
Christian narratives that do not.

Those who deny the existence of free will identify God's foreknowledge with
God's decrees.

Those who affirm the existence of free will picture time as a line draw on a
chalkboard, and God/eternity as the chalkboard.  Every event, therefore, at
any point on the line is equally "in the present" from the Divine point of
view.  What is future tense to us is continually present tense to God.  So
it's only "foreknowledge" from the point of view of time, not eternity.
 Therefore, there is no need for God to foreordain what he foresees.

The more important point is that both of these traditions as well
represented within orthodox Christian belief.

Raphael's warning is a significant, non-Biblical addition, but I think it
serves the purpose of laying guilt even more squarely at Adam and Eve's feet
in Milton's narrative.  More importantly, though, we need to distinguish
between adding details that aren't present and contradicting a narrative.
 As you've pointed out, there's not a lot of detail in the Biblical account.
 Saying that Raphael visited Adam and Eve is not a contradiction of the
Biblical account unless the account explicitly states that no angels visited
Adam and Eve prior to the fall.

And as Jameela pointed out, many details traditionally associated with the
Genesis account are  provided by other Biblical literature, such as the
identification of the snake with Satan, etc.

I think much of Milton's detail comes from commonly accepted readings of
Genesis.  The question we usually need to ask about most British literature
is not, 'How does this work stand in relationship to traditional
Christianity?' -- which always mistakes traditional Christianity as a single
thing -- but rather, "With which Christian traditions does this work have
the most affinity and from which does it face the most opposition?"

Frame the question that way and consider a broad range of Christian
traditions, and then you'll be in a position to see where your author is
truly diverging from all or most Christian traditions.

It will be very hard, though, to find any doctrinal stance that's not
already been articulated by someone somewhere.

Jim R

On Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 1:59 AM, Nairba Sirrah <nairbasirrah at msn.com> wrote:

> Essentially saying "if god forsees the future, then there was no chance
> that Eve had a choice...so why forbid her from doing something fate dictated
> she wwas going to do anyway."
> I realize the Pandora's Box this opens. But again, in defense of my point,
> Milton's reworking of the essential narrative is quantum and, I dare say,
> wrong. He might as well have just made up a whole new religion. At what
> point does a Milton emmendation become too ridiculous? Saying Raphael warned
> them is HUGE. Why not say Adam ate the fruit first?
> The license Milton took is too far out of bounds. The main reason it's not
> talked about is hardly anyone ever reads the whole poem.
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