[Milton-L] Adam ate of . . . the wrong Tree!

Shoulson, Jeffrey jeffrey.shoulson at uconn.edu
Mon Nov 17 11:40:40 EST 2014


I always like to point out to students that there is some potential biblical precedent for aligning or even conflating the two trees, as well:

Proverbs 3:13-18 extols the pursuit of wisdom (hokhmah, in Hebrew):

Here's the Authorized Version's translation:

13Happy is the man that findeth  wisdom, and the man that getteth  understanding.14For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.15She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be comparedunto her.16Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.17Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.18She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

That final verse describes wisdom as the "tree of life," etz hayim, almost the same as the tree of life in Genesis.  The difference between the Genesis tree and the Proverbs tree is the definite article:  Genesis has etz ha-hayim, "tree of the life".  The traditional Jewish reading of this passage from Proverbs (which makes its appearance in the liturgy) is that the "tree of life" is the Torah, the means through which knowledge/wisdom is properly obtained.

Jeffrey


On Nov 17, 2014, at 11:18 AM, JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca<mailto:jfleming at sfu.ca>> wrote:

in PL 10 the father says A and E must be expelled lest they eat from the tree of life and live forever, "dream at least to live forever." But the clarity of this implication is post-lapsarian--in Milton. In antecedent tradition, there was, I believe, a widespread notion that prelapsarian immortality was a function of life-tree-noshing. Thus producing troubled head-scratching over how A and E and their descendants wd have gained continued access to the precious fruit, had they not fallen, but spread all over the world by going forth and multiplying. No refrigerated containers, you see. JD Fleming

________________________________
From: "Gregory Machacek" <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu<mailto:Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu>>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Sent: Monday, 17 November, 2014 07:50:42
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Adam ate of . . . the wrong Tree!

Maybe Milton had it in mind as part of the mechanism by which A&E's bodies might at last turn all to spirit, and winged, ascend, ethereal:  occasional noshing on the Tree of Life during that period when they were being improved by obedience through a tract of time.



Greg Machacek
Professor of English
Marist College


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To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
From: Dario Rivarossa
Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: 11/17/2014 04:15AM
Subject: [Milton-L] Adam ate of . . . the wrong Tree!

Dear friends, as we had already seen some time ago, the Catholic
Catechism of Trent (year 1566) includes some interesting concepts with
reference to the Genesis-3 story. Here's another example, taken from
the comments to the request "Give us today our daily bread" in the
Lord's Prayer:

. . .  satis ei fuisset ad immortalem vitam ille fructus, quem
felicissima vitae arbor, nullo eius aut posterorum laborem
praebuisset.

"To get immortal life, there would have sufficed to him [Adam] that
fruit which the most fortunate Tree of Life would offer him without
any labor of him or his descendants."

This side of the story was maybe taken from granted, but not very
often highlighted, I think: Adam and Eve were driven away from Eden so
as not to eat of the Tree of Life, as it is well known. But, if they
had NOT sinned by eating the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge, they
could and would eat the fruits of the Tree of Life, with some positive
consequences.

Usually, when the Trent Catechism makes this kind of statements, it
leans on some Church Father; here none is mentioned. And I admit that
my memory is failing me as to PL in this respect. Milton says (cf. PL
3. 352 ff; 5. 652) that "now" trees of life only grow in heaven to the
angels' dietary benefit, but what about its past role on earth? Was
pre-lapsarian Man supposed to eat of it? In PL 5. 469 ff, however, no
hint at the Tree of Life is provided.

With many thanks in advance

il Tassista / the Tasso Driver
http://tassonomia.blogspot.it<http://tassonomia.blogspot.it/>
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--
James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University
778-782-4713

Burnaby -- British Columbia -- Canada.

He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went. Matt.21:29.


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