[Milton-L] forwarded query re. Milton in Max Weber

John Hale john.hale at otago.ac.nz
Fri Sep 11 02:05:33 EDT 2015

?The remark as quoted seems too dismissive for Milton in De Doctrina, who insists more on his own interpretation of Predestination in I. 4 than on rubbishing the whole idea.

There seem to be problems also with the number of stages of  translation and transmission which the quip has gone through.

Watching with interest, though.

John Hale

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of Hannibal Hamlin <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, 10 September 2015 4:21 a.m.
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] forwarded query re. Milton in Max Weber

Dear Miltonists,

On behalf of David Sacks, who posted this query to FICINO, I'm forwarding his query to you. Is there something like this in the De Doctrina, which seems to be (indirectly, via German) the source? Weber's quotation has a long and complex afterlife, since a variety of authors (including apparently Karl Barth) pick up the Milton line without checking further.


Dear Colleagues,

In THE PROTESTANT ETHIC AND THE SPIRIT OF CAPITALISM (trans. Talcott Parsons), Max Weber offers this quotation as summing up what he calls "Milton's well-known opinion of the doctrine" of predestination: "Though I may be sent to Hell for it, such a God will never command my respect."

The accompanying endnote does not provide a citation to any work by Milton.  Instead it says: "On Milton's theology see the essay of Eibach in the THEOL. STUDIEN UND KRITIKEN, 1879.  Macaulay's essay on it...is superficial. For more detail see the somewhat too schematic six-volume English work of Masson, and the German biography of Milton which rest upon it...."

Parsons, of course, was an eminent sociologist, not a literary scholar.  I'm guessing that he translated the quote attributed to Milton directly from Weber's German without having a clue as to what Milton himself had said in English.  Does anyone recognize the quote as coming from something written by Milton? If not, does anyone have a suggestion about where the thought--if not the actual words--might be found?  For a variety of reasons, I'd like to track the it down.

With best wishes, David


Hannibal Hamlin
Professor of English
The Ohio State University
Author of The Bible in Shakespeare, now available through all good bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199677610.do
Editor, Reformation
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
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hamlin.22 at osu.edu/<http://hamlin.22@osu.edu/>
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