[Milton-L] "As by his Word . . ."
Horace Jeffery Hodges
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 13 16:03:42 EST 2011
Jim, what triggered my question was the line in PL 5.603: "This day I have
begot." The assembled angels seem to have been in existence for some time,
apparently longer than a day, so the begetting would appear to have occurred in
time (rather than eternity) and after the creation of the angels.
But I'll need to reflect upon Leonard's substantive and very informative post.
From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Mon, February 14, 2011 5:52:27 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "As by his Word . . ."
I'm sure you've been down this road, Jeffery, but I'm curious where it
led you, so I will make a suggestion and see how you reply. The
Nicene Creed states of Christ that he was
"begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;"
with some versions including the phrase, "eternally begotten of the Father"
and with some versions adding the following:
"But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not;' and 'He was
not before he was made;' and 'He was made out of nothing,' or 'He is
of another substance' or 'essence,' or 'The Son of God is created,' or
'changeable,' or 'alterable'—they are condemned by the holy catholic
and apostolic Church."
While "begotten" in reference to human relationships indicates a
sequence, you can't really think sequentially when you say that the
Son is "eternally begotten" of the Father -- an eternal relationship
exists outside of time, so there is no "before" and no "after."
The passage that you quoted from PL of course makes reference to John 1:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things
were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was
All created things were created through Christ, so Christ was not
himself a created being.
I won't argue with the thought that Milton was probably an Arian, but
it's not necessarily the case that he has to carefully assert his
Arianism in all instances. He seems to be resorting to rather
traditional language in the case that you mention. Satan's claim to
be self-created may be an echo or perversion or appropriation of what
he believed Christ's claims to be.
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