[Milton-L] "Oh we can't eat apples"

John K Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Thu Apr 3 17:22:19 EDT 2014


 
 
On 04/03/14, Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote: 
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> Is this treated in the critical literature anywhere?  Carol, you sound like you've heard both positions and opted for one.
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 C. S. Lewis opts for a position like mine (and probably shaped my position when I was an undergraduate) in APPL (no pun intended!), the chapter on "Milton and St. Augustine". Lewis cites Augustine as the source of his view that the apple is just an apple (one of many apples). In the paperback version, p. 70. I am sure that Martin Evans writes on the subject too in PL and the Genesis Tradition (1968).
 
On the related but distinct question of whether the forbidden tree is the only one of its kind, it might be worth asking how many specimens there are of any species. The fact that God brings the animals to Adam to be named in pairs (or sevens) might encourage the notion that God created small numbers of every species (including perhaps trees), but it is also possible (likely in my view) that the pairs of animals are representatives of their kinds. In book seven we hear of "broad herds" of grazing animals and "shoals" of fish. We are also told that the earth "Was flown, was swum, was walked frequent". It seems from this  that there were many specimens of every species except humankind. For there to have been forests, there must have been more than one oak, or elm, etc. So more than one apple tree. This does not clinch my case about the forbidden tree, but it does help it, I think. The tree of life does seem to be special case and I can see that Greg might see its uniqueness as supporting his case for a unique (biologically unique) tree of knowledge. 
 
John Leonard

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