[Milton-L] The Authorship of De Doctrina Christiana

John Hale john.hale at otago.ac.nz
Thu Dec 26 17:04:09 EST 2013


After editing De Doctrina Christiana for the Oxford MILTON series, I'm naturally interested in the approaching MLA session on its authorship.
    Nothing perceived in the course of the editing or translating has seemed to me like the work of more than one mind, nor any mind but Milton's as known to me. Though the accumulating of resemblances could in theory be circularity, an identikit of another candidate would have to share many traits with Milton. New evidence, new methods of examination, and an alternative name would be needed.
    In particular, Milton's Art of Logic (not wholly his in composition, but published over his name) produces plenty of resemblances or connections, of several sorts.
    One which is intriguing me at the moment is its having the same organization as De Doctrina. Two Books, fifty chapters, and split between the Books 33: 17. The split seems unusual among comparable Logics. So if it is a personal choice, as well as unusual, it suggests the same compiler did both. W. J. Ong found, too, that Milton changed the source's arrangement to make his Logic have 33: 17. It's reasonable to think, from this basis, that Milton liked the pattern and did both compilations.
    What could upset or demolish this argument?
    Someone else had the same idea independently, for DDC.
    Or this someone knew the arithmetic of the Logic and liked it.
    Or is there some way, by ransacking the on-line texts of the relevant types, of discovering further specimens of this liking for 2, 50, and 33:17, which would make the coincidence unremarkable?
    Or something else, and hence my interest..
    Seasonal greetings to all.

John Hale
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