[Milton-L] crucifixion- re Barton

Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Sun Apr 6 17:48:05 EDT 2014


Michael: I think that line means "in the day ye eat thereof, ye are *condemned* to die--not that, horror-movie like, the minute you ingest this poison, you will fall to the ground, clutching your throat, and uttering gutteral sounds.

But I do think "sufficient to have stood" is a bit of a hedge on the Almighty's part, and I think Milton's God knows it. Jesus is mortal in all respects, yes; he possesses no supernatural powers--but he is, after all, one **Greater** man--one more righteous and more virtuous than the rest of us, though some (Eve--Samson--Noah--Abraham--Moses--David--Job and others) have come close. Literally, know that God said "DON'T TOUCH THAT FRUIT" was "sufficient to have stood" under normal circumstances, and (absent the Tempter) Adam and Eve were obedient. But introducing that new factor into the equation, Eve, not impervious to "hypocrisie," was less than sufficient--though she didn't succumb immediately, when the Serpent found the right button (the thing she wanted most), she broke.

With absolutely no offense intended to our soldiers, it's analogous to someone who breaks under torture, as opposed to someone who sells secrets to the enemy: Eve really tries to resist (her reaction to being told that she should be universally adored--

Fairest resemblance of thy Maker faire,
Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine
By gift, and thy Celestial Beautie adore [ 540 ]
With ravishment beheld, there best beheld
Where universally admir'd; but here
In this enclosure wild, these Beasts among,
Beholders rude, and shallow to discerne
Half what in thee is fair, one man except, [ 545 ]
Who sees thee? (and what is one?) who shouldst be seen
A Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'd
By Angels numberless, thy daily Train. 

is "wow--you can talk??"--and when the Serpent explains how that came to be, all she has to say is,

Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt [ 615 ]
The vertue of that Fruit, in thee first prov'd:
But say, where grows the Tree, from hence how far?
For many are the Trees of God that grow
In Paradise, and various, yet unknown
To us, in such abundance lies our choice, [ 620 ]

(in other words, "you ought to be adored by everyone" doesn't faze her, which is roughly equivalent to the Old Man offering Jesus women in PR. That's an easy one: thanks, but no thanks.)

Then the Serpent brings her to the Tree of Knowledge, **leading her into fraud** (again, Lucifer does not lie to the angels who follow him), and her immediate response is:

Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither,
Fruitless to mee, though Fruit be here to excess,
The credit of whose vertue rest with thee,
Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects. [ 650 ]
But of this Tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so commanded, and left that Command
Sole Daughter of his voice; the rest, we live
Law to our selves, our Reason is our Law. 

Not to belabor the point, she says the equivalent again and again, until the Serpent discerns the one thing that has coercive value to her--the offer she can't refuse. For her, the compelling argument (specious though it is) is that the Serpent has eaten of the Fruit, and has not died--but God never said the other creatures would die if they ate it--and as we know (but Eve doesn't) Satan-in-the-Serpent didn't need to eat the fruit to speak, or to know the difference between good and evil:

In the day we eate
Of this fair Fruit, our doom is, we shall die.
How dies the Serpent? hee hath eat'n and lives,
And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns, [ 765 ]
Irrational till then. For us alone
Was death invented? or to us deni'd
This intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd?
For Beasts it seems: yet that one Beast which first
Hath tasted, envies not, but brings with joy [ 770 ]
The good befall'n him, Author unsuspect,
Friendly to man, farr from deceit or guile.
What fear I then, rather what know to feare
Under this ignorance of good and Evil,
Of God or Death, of Law or Penaltie? [ 775 ]
Here grows the Cure of all, this Fruit Divine,
Fair to the Eye, inviting to the Taste,
Of vertue to make wise: what hinders then
To reach, and feed at once both Bodie and Mind? 

None of us, ultimately, are entirely "sufficient to have stood." Jesus himself has to draw upon all of his intellect to defeat the Tempter in PR--and he is "one greater man."

That, I think, is the reason why God grants grace to Adam and Eve, coerced into falling--and to Satan and the reprobate angels, fallen of their own accord, none.

Best to all,

Carol Barton


From: Bryson, Michael E 
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2014 4:20 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List 
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] crucifixion- re Barton


"If A & E before the fall were NOT "Sufficient to have stood," then God is lying about something VERY fundamental."

Yes. That is how I think Milton is attempting to include the disturbing sense of Genesis 2 in which it is Yahweh who tells the fundamental lie:

"in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

They don't die "in the day" (unless one resorts to a dodgy explanation like Psalm 90:4). And there is no indication in Genesis (nor in any of the other mythologies of the region/area of which I am aware) that human beings were created immortal and "fell" into mortality. Genesis 2-3 is much more like the kind of etiological myth told by the story of the sacrifice at Mekone--a story explaining the rift between humans and the gods, in which humans are mortals made of clay--than it is like the account in Genesis 1 where El/Elohim creates humans in his/their image, prohibits nothing, and tells no lies. Yahweh creates out of clay (adamah), prohibits knowledge, tells a lie, then admits that the serpent had told the truth: "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil."

I think that Milton's complex, often disturbing character "God" is an attempt to account for the complexities in the Biblical portrayals (among other things).

Michael Bryson


On Apr 6, 2014 12:23 PM, "Richard A. Strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu> wrote:

There might indeed be a significant difference between the fallen angels and fallen humanity, but it's not clear to me that it is morally unintelligible for the fallen angels to be forgiven.  

I strongly disagree that "the arguments between them [A & E] in Book IX both before and after the Fall demonstrate, Adam and Eve are not mature in right reason, and certainly not in sophistry--any more than the masses in Milton's time were sophisticated in their thinking--and were therefore far more easily entrapped."

On the contrary, I think that the discussion between A & E before the fall shows them both to be intelligent, highly rational, and eloquent.  I do not subscribe to any version of the "fall before the fall" view.  I think the debate between A & E there is, as Addison beautifully put it, "such a Dispute as we may supposed might have happened in Paradise" (Spectator # 351).  If A & E before the fall were NOT "Sufficient to have stood," then God is lying about something VERY fundamental.



RS

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From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM [cbartonphd1 at verizon.net]
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2014 1:40 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] crucifixion


The fallen angels knew the difference between good and evil, obedience and disobedience (as Satan himself makes obvious in soliloquy). They simply (like the Royalists during the Civil Wars, and Milton during the Interregnum) followed the wrong leader, deceiving themselves into believing he would be victorious (not, in their case, because he was "right" in a moral sense--give the Roundheads at least that much--but because they didn't like the way God was running heaven)--see particularly 100-105:

 If he Whom mutual league,
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
And hazard in the Glorious Enterprize,
Joynd with me once, now misery hath joynd [ 90 ]
In equal ruin: into what Pit thou seest
>From what highth fall'n, so much the stronger prov'd
He with his Thunder: and till then who knew
The force of those dire Arms? yet not for those,
Nor what the Potent Victor in his rage [ 95 ]
Can else inflict, do I repent or change,
Though chang'd in outward lustre; that fixt mind
And high disdain, from sence of injur'd merit,
That with the mightiest rais'd me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along [ 100 ]
Innumerable force of Spirits arm'd
That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power oppos'd
In dubious Battel on the Plains of Heav'n,
And shook his throne. 

The fallen angels were not moral babes in the woods, still trying to figure out where they were and how the world worked. They *chose* to follow Lucifer (just as the thousands of Royalists slain by the Roundheads, brethren and neighbors of those to whom they fell in battle, had *chosen* to follow Charles, and Milton, et al., had *chosen* to follow Cromwell: they knew full well the consequences of making the wrong choice, and chose their sides accordingly). As the arguments between them in Book IX both before and after the Fall demonstrate, Adam and Eve are not mature in right reason, and certainly not in sophistry--any more than the masses in Milton's time were sophisticated in their thinking--and were therefore far more easily entrapped. The until-now-mute Serpent convinces the too-gullible Eve that the Fruit has enabled him to be like Man, and might therefore have the power to make Man god-like--but he's lying. Never having encountered a lie, or a creature not nocent, Eve believes him, telling Adam after the Fall:

hadst thou been there,
Or here th' attempt, thou couldst not have discernd
Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake; [ 1150 ]
No ground of enmitie between us known,
Why hee should mean me ill, or seek to harme.

Those last two lines are the key to "deceiv'd by the other first"--no matter what anyone (or any thing) tells her, Eve knows that God has said "don’t touch this," and that should be sufficient -- but the Serpent's sophistry confuses her, and she lacks the intellectual power (that Jesus demonstrates in PR) to pierce through the seduction's fog, just as most of us have at one time or another been betrayed by leaving ourselves wide open to someone we trusted who was not worthy of that trust. Being self-tempted, self-depraved necessarily involves a matter of conscious choice: for Adam and Eve's transgression to qualify, they'd have had to stroll past the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil on their own, and decided--without coercion, in full knowledge of what they were doing--to have some Fruit. Adam and Eve didn't **of their own volition** actively seek to transgress by **choosing** to follow the Adversary, as the fallen angels did; Eve was coerced by her own desire to be "more equal" to Adam--which apparently existed long before she reached for the Fruit--and the false logic presented to her by the Serpent, which played into that desire--into following the Adversary without being fully aware that that was what she was doing. She does resist at first--as Jesus does throughout PR--but she is no match for her opponent. The Son *is*.

Best to all,

Carol Barton


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