[Milton-L] "As by his Word . . ."

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 13 15:13:44 EST 2011

I've been convinced of Milton's Arianism by Michael Bauman and other scholars, 
but I do wonder what to make of this passage in PL 5.833-838, where Abdiel 
maintains that the begotten Son made the angels (even though God had earlier 
announced the begetting of his Son to the assembled angels):
Thy self though great and glorious dost thou count,
>Or all Angelic Nature joind in one,
>Equal to him begotten Son, by whom [ 835 ]
>As by his Word the mighty Father made
>All things, ev'n thee, and all the Spirits of Heav'n
>By him created in thir bright degrees,
>[Thomas H. Luxon, ed., The Milton Reading Room, February 2011.]
I speculate a bit on my blog:

The begotten Son was the one "by whom / As by his Word the mighty Father made / 
All things." This line can be read as distinguishing between two states of the 
Word of God: a pre-sonship state and a sonship state, differentiated by the 
event of being begotten. If so, then for Milton, 'divine sonship' is a role 
taken on by the eternal Word of God in the act of being begotten by God Himself, 
who (I presume) becomes the Father at that point. This reading of Milton raises 
the question as to what Milton thought the act of begetting to mean. I haven't 
looked into that yet, but perhaps Milton thought that the Word was a power of 
God that became hypostasized through an emanation of God's own substance, but 
I'm merely guessing
Could somebody clarify this for me?
Jeffery Hodges
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