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

Shoulson, Jeffrey jshoulson at mail.as.miami.edu
Fri Dec 17 12:05:30 EST 2010

I'll join the chorus of bah-humbugs, Dennis.

On Dec 17, 2010, at 12:02 PM, Dennis Danielson wrote:

> 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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