[Milton-L] Re: orthodox doctrine in Milton vs "tasteless" intention

Dennis Danielson danielso at interchange.ubc.ca
Fri Dec 17 12:02:22 EST 2010


Am I merely Scrooge-like in my old age (I do know I'm getting 
repetitious), or do others too get the impression that discussions on 
this list occasionally bang on as if none of the Milton scholarship of 
the past thirty years ever saw the light of day?

Or perhaps therein lies a chastening tale about the influence of 
scholarship!

DD

On 10-12-17 8:39 AM, Nairba Sirrah wrote:
> Thank you for contributing Professor Lares,
>
> I simply did not list all of Milton's deviations from standard orthodox
> doctrine because I assumed many interested parties on here would have
> been already well-versed with them.
>
> My point essentially, is that the biggest no-no (outside of being an
> atheist) in 17th century England, was putting words in God's mouth that
> are not in the Bible. Not to mention events.
>
> The most liberal view and/or deviation and/or license and/or obscene
> orchestration Milton decided to insert is likely the creation and
> pre-lapsarian mentality and character of Jesus (the Son). He clearly
> means Jesus, so that's the name I'll use.
>
> It is essentially heresy, or just plain wrong, to invent events in the
> life of Jesus. Not to mention having him say things he didn't say, and
> give him credit for phrases and actions of the Old Testament...which the
> Old Testament clearly assigns to God the creator.
>
> Ay, but there's the rub - Christianity over the years morphed Jesus into
> being just as much God as God (if not more so). When you smash theem
> with your fist, which is more disgusting? the chicjen? or the egg?
>
> I suppose my defense of Mr. Lindall should have requested list
> participants to define "tasteless"...my definition of tatseless is: "not
> having the mental sense of artistic taste to taste a thought that would
> evoke more distaste than conceptual satisfaction."
>
> I would sooner have been offended by the literal interpretation of the
> forbidden fruit being an actual piece of fruit than seeing the image of
> Adam and Eve having sex.
>
> As for Milton being in line with the thinking of his time, that is most
> certainly not true. Milton's wild way of telling that story was most
> definitely the first time that had ever been done. The only time
> anyone's come close to altering the story of Jesus to that extent is The
> Book of Mormon - which, again, is likely simply the liberal invention of
> an 18-year old for the sake of "tasteless" manipulation of people who
> already have no detailed knowledge of biblical scripture.
>
> If there's one thing I'm an expert at, it's knowing the difference
> between what the Bible says and what Milton says about what the Bible
> says. He tries to cover his tracks, but the glaring change in the tone
> of voice, when he suddenly inserts the condeming sentences of Genesis in
> Book X make the whole narrative suddenly fall apart. Book 12 is
> "orthodox" simply by necessity...to force it all "to work" even it
> doesn't work in the slightest of the foggiest. At least there's the part
> with Sin and Death dancing toward earth for comic relief.
>
> In all seriousness though, from the moment where Milton has Jesus
> condemning the serpent to crawl on its belly, and for women to have
> birthing pains...there really isn't much point in reading any further,
> except to experience being embarassed for the poet's impossible task of
> "justifying the ways of Milton to man."
>
>  > From: Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
>  > To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>  > Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 06:04:29 -0600
>  > Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Re: "tasteless" Milton (response)
>  >
>  > Actually, many of Milton's readings reflect standard thinking. The
> Bible was thought in his time to be a doctrinally unified, so that one
> part glossed another. Satan is called "that old serpent, which is the
> Devil" in Rev. 20:2, at almost the opposite end of the text, which
> placement has a nice symmetry. And Paradise Lost quotes from all over
> the Bible. (See especially Sims, The Bible in Milton's Epics, but even
> Sims's listing does not include everything.)
>  >
>  > Milton's epic was thought to be completely orthodox until the
> publication of his De Doctrina Christianity in 1825. Recently, some
> people have been reading it as fissured. Pendulums swing.
>  >
>  > You are certainly welcome to your own interpretation of life, the
> universe, and everything, but you might consider whether you are reading
> an interpretation into Milton that the text cannot support. In another
> post, you made certain statements about Christianity: "[Milton] not only
> changed the facts that govern Christianity, he completely deleted the
> central virtue: the worth of human decision, our inherant power to
> change the future. The glory of Christianity is that painful sacrifice
> is a virtue, and that even a divine being would choose to endure that
> pain to prove it to all eternity. That we have a choice in life. But
> Milton's version takes away the choice." That's actually not
> Christianity, which is rather a statement that man's sins have separated
> him from God, Christ's sacrifice has permitted us back in, but that we
> have to accept his government. But Milton's explanation of soteriology
> in Paradise Lost 12 and elsewhere is orthodox.
>  >
>  > Jameela Lares
>  > Professor of English
>  > The University of Southern Mississippi
>  > 118 College Drive, #5037
>  > Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
>  > 601 266-4319 ofc
>  > 601 266-5757 fax
>  > ________________________________________
>  > From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Nairba Sirrah
> [nairbasirrah at msn.com]
>  > Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 12:59 AM
>  > To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>  > Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Re: "tasteless" Milton (response)
>  >
>  > Anyhow, none of any of that is how it reads in any form of Judiasm or
> Christianity. Much of what Milton did was against the law in 1667. The
> reality that Paradise Lost was approved for publication by the office of
> the Bishop of Canterbury is astonishing.
>  >
>  > Milton basically changed all of God's reasons for doing everything,
> and made an epic mockery out of every divine and human decision.
>  >
>  > 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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-- 
Dennis Danielson
Professor of English
University of British Columbia
#397 - 1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1
telephone: 604-822-4092
Author: The First Copernican
Editor: Paradise Lost, Parallel Prose Edition
WEB: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ddaniels/


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