[Milton-L] Bk 3

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Sat Oct 26 01:46:17 EDT 2013


SUPPOSEDLY KNOCK-DOWN POINT:  "not JUST granting humans "forgiveness" but redeeming them from Death."

It's not clear to me that these are different.  What else could divine forgiveness mean?


________________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu [srevard at siue.edu]
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2013 7:11 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3

Aieee!  you not only stepped in it, but as Molly Bloom said of a somewhat
different activity, "up to the neck almost"!

I think if you go back and READ the dialogue between Father and Son (which I
have just done), you will see that the issue is not JUST granting humans
"forgiveness" but redeeming them from Death, which is what the Son steps up to
do by suffering death for them. Let fellow listers correct me if I am wrong,
but this, I think, is hardly sham Christian; I think it is doctrine shared by
Puritans and Catholics, Laudians and Calvinists. God does explain this quite
clearly and the Son echoes and amplifies it (and incidentally, that other lion
named Aslan illustrates how it works, if you want to reread the Narnia stories
where C. S. Lewis invents another female version of Sin). Milton draws here on,
among other narrative traditions, the Harrowing of Hell, a story that quivers
within the Sin/Death/Satan episode but is not "realized" until God and the Son
explicitly evoke it.


Quoting "Richard A. Strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu>:

> OK, now I'll really step in it.
>
> About Book 3:  as far as I can tell, the Son's offer to bear death, etc, is
> completely unnecessary to Milton's conception (further proof of how far he
> is/was from traditional, normal Christianity).  It's all a sham, and another
> case (like moments that sound Calvinist) of M trying to appear/sound
> orthodox.  Here's why it's a sham:  Milton has already, at the very beginning
> of Bk 3, had God the Father (the only real God) explain that He intends to
> forgive man's fall on purely moral/philosophical grounds -- man was misled by
> another -- and contrasting this with Satan's fall, which He will not forgive.
>  No further mechanism or explanation for man's forgiveness is needed.  And
> it's all decided  on that basis.  Already.
>
> It seems to me that the normal reading of Bks 2 and 3 in this regard has it
> backwards -- Satan's heroism is real (he really doesn't know what's going to
> happen), while the Son's is totally superfluous.  I'm not saying that Satan
> doesn't indulge in some manipulation and theatrics, but that he his doing
> something that, from the point of view of the fallen angels, really
> can't/won't be done otherwise.  But this is less important than the point
> above.  And I'm not saying that M doesn't get some of the normal experience
> of Christianity from the episode, just that it is not actually needed for his
> story and his overall position.
>
> Coeur de Lion
>
> ________________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu
> [srevard at siue.edu]
> Sent: Friday, October 25, 2013 3:41 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] oops, I forgot one
>
> Well asked, Alan. For instance, how about Hypocrisy, who shows up when Satan
> is
> disguising himself as a stripling angel in order to bamboozle Uriel?
>
> Does everyone agree that Milton carefully placed the Death/Sin/Satan drama
> near
> the end of Book II in order to set up the opening of Book III, the poem's
> doctrinal center in which the dramatic encounter of God and Son so precisely
> and on so many levels contrastingly parallels that between Satan and Death?
>
> Quoting alan horn <alanshorn at gmail.com>:
>
> > Is all the figurative language to be stripped from the poem or just this
> > one episode?
> >
> > I want to second Jim R’s suggestion to look back at Harold Skulsky’s series
> > of posts from a couple of years ago explaining the genre and function of
> > the passage in question and citing precedents in classical epic for
> > Milton’s use of this convention.
> >
> > Alan Horn
> >
>
>
>
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