[Milton-L] Bk 3

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Wed Oct 30 12:34:26 EDT 2013


Steve Fallon says:

"On top of this is the oft-noted fact that Milton does not emphasize the passion in the epic (and that he is unable to finish the early poem on the passion).  He seems more interested in the Son as an exemplar of heroic obedience, a model for us, than as a God whose blood saves us."

I think this is the crux of the matter (so to speak).  I'd suggest also that he simply did not have much in the way of artistic genius for the representation and engagement with the passion and its associated doctrines.  As my friend Gardner Campbell once pointed out to me with characteristic incisiveness, if you want a great poet of the passion, you need to look at a poet like Herbert, not at Milton.  Even if, as Steve suggests, Milton did not reject "the orthodox doctrines of resurrection and atonement," his greatness as an artist was for other aspects of Christianity, and its borderlines with certain heresies.

Louis



===========================
Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
English Department
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>




From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Steve Fallon
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:20 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3

Carter,

I have agreed with virtually everything you have posted in recent days, but I think that Richard Strier has the inside track on the Father's speeches in Book 3. The Father does, as you say, outline the Resurrection and the Atonement, but the Father is required by justice to produce the mechanics of salvation.  Eating the fruit, humankind enthralls itself, the ironic result of the misuse of the free will irrevocably granted by God.  The Father indicates that, given the circumstances of Adam's and Eve's fall, mercy and justice require that "man therefore shall find grace." Mercy and justice so dictating, the question for the Father is how to engineer the process.  The answer will be the orthodox doctrines of resurrection and atonement, doctrines that Milton supports in Christian Doctrine I.xiv-xvi.  But even before the Father articulates the stumbling block, "Die he or justice must," he has made the case for man finding grace.  That case, in my view, is logically as well as temporally prior.

On top of this is the oft-noted fact that Milton does not emphasize the passion in the epic (and that he is unable to finish the early poem on the passion).  He seems more interested in the Son as an exemplar of heroic obedience, a model for us, than as a God whose blood saves us.

Steve Fallon

On Oct 27, 2013, at 8:14 PM, <srevard at siue.edu<mailto:srevard at siue.edu>> wrote:


Time to herd you cats, who are all singing in the dark of Book Two, out into the
Holy Light of Book Three, which none of you appears to have read with either
interest or understanding. Richard, my brilliant and scholarly friend, I have
to try and explain why you need to consider what God and the Son say more
carefully:  they outline for us two central Christian doctrines, that of the
Atonement (the Son will die for mankind) and the Resurrection (the Son
vanquishes Death), which Milton found in Paul and James and other New Testament
texts, which are not only orthodox but commonplace and I think common to all
Christian sects.  God begins by explaining that he knows Satan will get out,
bamboozling Sin and bribing Death:  this is a point that most of our colleagues
who are discussing this seem unaware of (one of us even said he had not yet gone
on to look at Book 3!).

I know it is supererogatory, but I will try to write out as briefly as possible
and post separately an explanation of what I have just obstreperously asserted
above.  Meantime, I hope you all get many treats for your tricks this
Halloween.

I should acknowledge here that Stella has been the scholar who made ME read Book
3, beginning when we were at Yale Grad School and used to go up into the dim
stacks and like Adam and Eve taste of the Tree of Knowledge, not unmixed
perhaps with amorous thoughts and oeillades. It behooves me therefore to pass
along to colleagues some of what she has taught me, which you are all of course
free to partake of or to abstain from.

Carter Revard


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


SUPPOSED PROBLEM FOR MY VIEW:   "at line 202 [the Father] goes on to say
HOWEVER, even though by grace-given penitence he [man] may live obediently,
nevertheless justice demands that he and all his posterity shall
die--UNLESS ..."

MY RESPONSE:  The problem of "justice" has already been taken care of when
the Father explains why man can be forgiven, but Satan not.  His point is
that justice does NOT require that mankind be condemned to death, etc.

My overall point is that God's speech at the beginning of the Book -- a
purely rationalistic, legalistic, and philosophical speech -- actually takes
care of the problem of the fate of mankind.  I would hold that this speech is
how M actually thinks, and the rest is M pretending -- perhaps to himself as
well as to the world -- that he is a more normal sort of Christian than he
actually was.  If M wrote CD -- which most Miltonists now seem to agree that
he did -- then it's pretty clear that M was NOT a normal Christian.  The
critique of the Trinity there is thoroughly rationalistic, as is the critique
of Calvinism (see my piece in the New Milton Crit volume, or the earlier
longer version of it in Milton Studies 38).

RS


________________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>
[milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu<mailto:srevard at siue.edu>
[srevard at siue.edu]
Sent: Saturday, October 26, 2013 4:27 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3

But Richard, you seem to have stopped reading Book III at line 202.  Up to
that
point God has explained why he through grace will forgive Man; but at line
202
he goes on to say HOWEVER, even though by grace-given penitence he may live
obediently, nevertheless justice demands that he and all his posterity shall
die--UNLESS "for him/ Some other able, and as willing, pay/ The rigid
satisfaction, death for death./ Say, heavenly powers, where shall we find
such
love,/ Which of you will be mortal to redeem/ Man's mortal crime, and just
the
unjust to save:/ Dwells in all heaven charity so dear?" (lines 210-16)

And here of course is where the Son volunteers to die for Man, saying
(241ff):
"On me let Death wreak all his rage;/Under his gloomy power I shall not long/
Lie vanquished..../ But I shall rise victorious, and subdue/ My vanquisher,
spoiled of his vaunted spoil;/ Death his death's wound shall then receive,
and
stoop/ Inglorious,/ Of his mortal sting disarmed..../ While by thee raised I
ruin all my foes,/ Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave."

You do notice that Milton here personifies (OOOH, Allegory, that serpent of
the
Nile, rears its ghastly head!!!) Death, gives him a "sting" that is the same
one he held in Book Two?  And if you would like to see where Milton found
Death
with a sting, and found him and Sin personified, you might want to read
Paul's
Epistle to the Romans, especially for instance Chapter 5, verses 12 etc.


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

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<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>
[milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu<mailto: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<mailto: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<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>
[milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu<mailto: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<mailto: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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