[Milton-L] Who needs to work at ambiguity when reading anything in the fallen world will be hard?!

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Sat Sep 2 13:48:42 EDT 2017

Many thanks for Dr. Barolovich's recent response. I'm also uncomfortable
with Milton hagiography, in which we're supposed to adopt a stance of
hushed reverence and absolute humility before his text. I believe Milton's
claims for himself are frankly ludicrous if taken at face value, especially
since he appears to be claiming the same *kind* of inspiration as was
received by Moses. If Milton were simply acting like a Christian expressing
a general desire for God to guide his work, that's fine, but his desire to
place himself alongside Moses and above the Greeks is I think a bit much.
The Holy Spirit doesn't owe that to him. I think the claim is important in
that it mirrors claims by groups that are dissenting, cultish, or otherwise
heterodox, and it might be productively read in that way, especially as a
response to disenchantment with received, orthodox religion in his time.

I would suggest that ambiguity is an inherent property of language, and the
more complex a text is (and *PL* is of course very complex), the more
opportunities it will provide for ambiguity. Surely we can say that the
text is ambiguous on some points but much clearer and more direct in
others? Getting specific about where the ambiguity and where the clarity
lies is of course where we spend most of our discussion, and yes, reader
differences of all kinds will come into play here.

Jim R
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