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Paradise Lost: Bk II 
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Probably because Milton was aware of the dehumanizing effect of science -- the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge -- the shadow tree of the Tree of Life. Traditional cosmology -- astrological cosmology -- projects humanity onto the heavens by means of the Zodiacal Man -- the Great Man or Logos. The Great Man on the Cosmic Tree is as Christ on the cross, so the crucifixion is an antitype of the cosmic type. Persons with a greater orientation toward matter are hostile to such an interpretation of the cosmos.

I think taditionally, the Tree of Knowledge is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. By eating fruit from the tree, humans became capable fo knowing good only through knowing evil. Knowledge equalling knowledge of science? This is a different, untraditional interpretation. I don't think Milton was taking a stand against a scientific view that had been around for generations. I'd go more along with Saffron's view.
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Milton explicitly endorses the astrological worldview in Book 10 when the world is modified for the seasonality that follows sin

It might appear that way from the passage. But is Milton necessarily endorsing any particular conception of the cosmos in PL? Are we to think that this extremely conscientious Christian "believes in" astrology? I don't want to say this is just a poetic coup of sorts for Milton--to Christianize what had had pagan origins--because it is not trivial. But Milton thought that in earlier traditions there were shadows of truth, that in these traditions people were working toward a truth that only became fulfilled in God and Christ. Giving the planets' influence as a result of sin being loosed in the universe (by God, essentially) gives some credence to those who before believed in astrology. So I see Milton as a true humanist in this sense, not saying that the beliefs of lapsed traditions came to naught; saying they may have some validity from the standpoint of a better truth. (I know nothing about the Zodiac or astrology, obviously.)

On Milton's cosmology in PL, there is a good "map" in my Milton book. It shows a kind of acorn shaped universe, with Heaven at the top represented by a pinnacle of light. Below that is a vast Chaos, and below that is Hell. The "World" is an extremely small orb hanging by a chain from Heaven's gate. It is not the earth, but the "earth system" of the earth and the planets and sun revolving around it, with several other bands on the outside. I had not noted that the territory of the "world" was believed to be miniscule compared to the rest of the universe. I couldn't find an online representation to post for people to look at.



Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:47 am
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Saffron wrote:
It seems very logical that Milton would go with the old geocentric model of the universe. He is after all, telling a biblical story -- the bible puts the earth at the center of the universe. It also makes sense in that Milton is retelling a myth -- myth is not science. PL is allegory, creation myth and epic all rolled into one fantastical story; too much reality or science would undermine his purpose.

My intro to PL says that the old geocentric model was still published in books in Milton's day, so he might have also been aware that readers would have expected this more familiar and comfortable model. But the authorities disagree on whether Milton himself was a convinced Copernican. It's a little hard to see him committing himself to the Ptolemaic system while disbelieving it, even for the purpose of writing a poem. To a large extent, if not entirely, he must have understood the Bible to be historically and factually accurate. We'll probably have to keep looking at this question.



Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:28 am
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DWill wrote:
But the authorities disagree on whether Milton himself was a convinced Copernican. It's a little hard to see him committing himself to the Ptolemaic system while disbelieving it, even for the purpose of writing a poem. To a large extent, if not entirely, he must have understood the Bible to be historically and factually accurate. We'll probably have to keep looking at this question.


I've been to the library and poking around online trying to get nearer to an answer to the question posed by DWill a few posts back. It seems that there has been much discussion of this matter of cosmology through the years. Scholars can't seem to agree or even stay with there own positions, as to why Milton went with a Ptolemaic cosmology. Here is the explanation given in the book I check out from the library, John Milton by Gerald J. Schiffhorst, p.125:

"While relying for poetic purposes on the traditional Ptolemaic, geocentric cosmology, the poet nevertheless includes many references in the epic to the then new scientific discoveries of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and others. That the poet's imagination was stirred by such discoveries is apparent from his fascination with the telescope and with vast spatial perspectives, yet he maintained a more conservative sense of a measurable, circumscribed world in which God, not space, is infinite. The rich interplay between old and new conceptions of space in Milton's work presents a dual perspective whereby Earth as viewed by man is contrasted with its perception from afar"

"



Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:24 pm
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A pair of Miltonic diagrams of the cosmos and Satan's path are at http://unurthed.com/2007/02/ Heaven is not shown. My surmise is that Milton knew the Copernican findings were correct, but his primary purpose was the moral lesson of the tale of fall and redemption, so the physical accuracy was secondary to the big story.

All the characters are in any case allegorical symbols for cosmic archetypes, and it is probably rather hard to shoehorn Adam and Eve into a scientific paradigm. This produces a basic unease for me about the book, that a false cosmology produces false ethics. As I mentioned earlier, his decision to lump Isis with the fallen angels looks like one symptom of this false cosmology.

The 'crystaline sphere' he describes around the fixed stars was intended by Ptolemy to account for the precession of the equinox, using the term 'trepidation'. An epic tale of human destiny based on the scientific account of precession would be a real humdinger.

It is actually mentioned in Book 3, line 480:
Quote:
[ 480 ]They pass the Planets seven, and pass the fixt, And that Crystalline Sphear whose ballance weighs The Trepidation talkt, and that first mov'd;


And for an explanation of where angels fear to tread http://www.thestarofthemagi.com/precess ... dation.htm
Robert



Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:37 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
the crucifixion is an antitype of the cosmic type
Is this typology like a fractal reading - as above so below?



Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:34 pm
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Thomas Hood wrote:
the crucifixion is an antitype of the cosmic type
Is this typology like a fractal reading - as above so below?


Robert, don't you know about the role of typology in Christian theology? It is like 'as above, so below' but primarily refers to elements of the Jewish saga.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typology_(theology)
-- not very good, but handy.

Chapter 10, "Biblical Exegesis and Typology," in Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry, by Isabel Rivers. A good book if you can get to it.

Milton uses typology heavily. To give you the flavor, I'll type this in from _Handfuls on Purpose_:

"In seeking to give an exposition of the Tabernacle we do not wish to dogmatise, but humbly to follow the method of Paul as seen in his letter to the Hebrews. In referring there to the Tabernacle and the Priesthood he reveals his method of interpretation by such keynote sentences as the following: "The shadow of heavenly things" (Heb. 8.5), "The patterns of things in the heavens" (Heb. 9.23), ""The figures of the true" (Heb. 10.1). Seeing that these things were shadows, patterns, and figures of heavenly or spiritual things yet to come, I think we have sufficient warrant for taking all the spiritual teaching out of them we possible can. The question is not, Does the Tabernacle _teach_ this or that New Testament truth? but, Do you not _see_ this or that spiritual truth prefigured in it?"

And _Handfuls on Purpose_ then goes on to consider the Tabernacle in detail.

A simple example: The sacrifice of Isaac is type; the death of Christ is antitype. Jonah is type; Christ is antitype: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights . . . "

Tom



Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:23 pm
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DWill wrote:
Are we to think that this extremely conscientious Christian "believes in" astrology?


In some sense, yes. Astrology was publicly accepted in seventeenth-century England, and most persons believed in it to some degree. Milton may have had courses in it in school, and apparently knew how to read a horoscope. If you're interested, the autobiography of William Lilly, author of Christian Astrology (still in print) and the major astrologer of Milton's era, is available at Gutenberg.

I am not persuaded that Milton is a Christian by conventional, current standards. He is a liberal humanist with a strong libertarian leaning. Paradise Lost is a work of art, not theology. He purports to justify the ways of God to man, but by humanizing Satan, God, the Son, and Adam and Eve, he is justifying the ways of man to God.

There is a summary of Astrology and Iconoclasm in Milton's Paradise Regained, Publication: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, by David Gay at

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/su ... 682687_ITM

Satan reads Jesus' horoscope "in the Starry Rubric," and the article goes on to say:

"Speculation, predicated on the sense that astrology is permitted by "Heav'n, reflects the persistent commitments of many seventeenth-century readers to astrology, and even a willingness on the part of some to treat it as an inferior accessory to divinity. To place astrology in demonic quarantine with Satan is to overlook the conjunction of Satan's forecast with a widespread discourse linking astrology and providence in the examination of political events from the execution of Charles I in 1649 to the Rest oration of Charles II in 1660. Satan's speech surprisingly evokes this discourse by deferring to providence or "Heaven." Satan presents astrology in a location that would be familiar and even acceptable to many of Milton's contemporaries.

Astrology is thus a widespread practice both socially and politically. [6] While permeating all social strata in various forms, it was, as Ann Geneva argues, unique: "Astrology in seventeenth century England was not a science. It was not a religion. It was not magic. Nor was it astronomy, mathematics, puritanism, neoPlatonism, psychology, meteorology, alchemy or witchcraft ... in the final analysis it was only itself: a unique divinatory and prognostic art embodying centuries of accreted methodology and tradition." [7] Astrology is appropriate in a poem concerned with the education of a future prince. Satan turns to astrology in his presumed role of tutor to a..."

Tom



Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:23 pm
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Tom, I had never heard the term "antitype" before. It still strikes me as confusing, as intutitively, I would have thought antitype was like opposite. Isaac, Jonah and Jesus are all within a messianic type, so to say Jesus is the antitype of Jonah or Isaac seems initially to suggest a disjunction rather than the similarity of the traditional usage of antitype. I'm also not quite sure of the relevance to Paradise Lost. Where do you see typology at work in PL?



Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:34 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
[
I am not persuaded that Milton is a Christian by conventional, current standards. He is a liberal humanist with a strong libertarian leaning. Paradise Lost is a work of art, not theology. He purports to justify the ways of God to man, but by humanizing Satan, God, the Son, and Adam and Eve, he is justifying the ways of man to God.

Interesting view of astrology in Milton's time. On the humanist question, I call him a Christian humanist. I haven't had the fortitude to reread much of his "On Christian Doctrine", but what I've skimmed strongly suggests doctrinaire Christianity. Some critics have said that his unconscious sympathies collide with his conscious aims, and maybe that is where you see this unconventional poet. PL is a work of art, but it seeks to be didactic as well. If it's not theology, why does it contain so many lines of it?



Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:02 pm
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Tom, I had never heard the term "antitype" before. It still strikes me as confusing, as intutitively, I would have thought antitype was like opposite. Isaac, Jonah and Jesus are all within a messianic type, so to say Jesus is the antitype of Jonah or Isaac seems initially to suggest a disjunction rather than the similarity of the traditional usage of antitype. I'm also not quite sure of the relevance to Paradise Lost. Where do you see typology at work in PL?


Sorry to be obscure, Robert. Yes, the terminology can be confusing, but it had been in English since the 1630's. Let me quote the very clear Isabel Rivers: "A type is a person or event or thing in the Old Testament which prefigures a person or event or thing in the New Testament; the latter is the antitype. . . . In the seventeenth-century England, Anglicans were much more inclined to draw on the allegorical tradition than Puritans [who used typology]. In religious poetry, a range of interpretation is evident, depending on the poet's intentions and religious affiliations. Milton's account of biblical exegesis in _Christian Doctrine_ I xxx is strictly Protestant; he opposes multiple allegorical interpretation, and argues that the literal sense, which contains the typological, is perspicuous to the faithful reader. In _Paradise Lost_ XI-XII Michael's account of the process of human history is based on typology."

"Both type and antitype have a historical existence. Typology implies a view of history as progressive revelation; the meaning of God's acts in the past become known throught his acts in the present and future."

Here are some more types and antitypes from Rivers: "The Israelites were in the desert for forty years; Christ fasted in the desert for forty days. Moses struck the rock and water flowed; Christ's side was pierced and blood and water flowed. (Literal and spiritual refreshment are contrasted here.) Moses lifted up a brass serpent on a pole; Christ was lifted on the cross. Adam brought death into the world; the second Adam, Christ, brought life."

Rivers carefully distinguishes typology from allegory and symbolism, with which typology is sometimes confused. Typology is used heavily in some American denominations.

Tom



Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:43 pm
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DWill wrote:
On the humanist question, I call him a Christian humanist. I haven't had the fortitude to reread much of his "On Christian Doctrine". . .


"One work that Milton himself never published was his Latin manuscript on Christian doctrine, first discovered in 1823. Milton probably wrote it in the 1650s, and completed it by 1661. While Milton compiled his argument entirely on the basis of Scriptural texts, he built from them a broad, liberal theology that even in the 1820s was widely condemned as shocking and heretical."
http://www.sc.edu/library/spcoll/britli ... later.html

http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/if-mo ... -christian
An argumentative Mormon argues that Mormons are as much Christian as John Milton was.

Does anyone know about Milton's textbook of Ramist logic? "The new anti-scholastic logic or "method" of the French scholar Peter Ramus was particularly influential among his fellow-protestants. Milton had written this Ramistic logic text in the 1640s, and first published it in 1672. Interestingly, the life of Ramus appended to Milton's Logic included a letter from Ramus to Milton's old schoolmaster at St. Paul's Alexander Gill."

I'd like to know more about Milton's use of Ramist logic.

Tom



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Tom, I find your use of the term 'liberal' hard to understand. In this context you seem to just mean anyone who is a freethinker. My impression, especially regarding the trinity, is that the distinctions are much more subtle than are captured by broad labels like liberal.

http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english ... ctrine.htm has a summary of John Milton's Christian Doctrine
Quote:
Milton's theological treatise is the product of a lifetime studying the Bible and analyzing theological issues in terms of that text, as he understood it. He was working toward this treatise for many years, but apparently did most of the writing during the time that he was at work on Paradise Lost (probably 1658–65). It could not be published in England in the repressive religious climate after the Restoration because many of the positions Milton argues for were seen as dangerously heretical: he does not believe Christ and the Holy Spirit are equal to the Father (antitrinitarianism); he insists on general grace and free will against Calvinist predestination (arminianism); he believes that the Ten Commandments (insofar as they are laws) are abolished for Christians, who are to live by the laws of love (antinomianism); he denies the dualism of soul/body and spirit/matter (monism); he believes that the soul dies with the body until both rise on the Last Day (mortalism); he reaffirms his belief in divorce, denies any real distinction between clergy and laity as to their activities in the church, denies the necessity of keeping the Sabbath or Sunday in any special way; and more. Many of these views, as well as a distinctly unusual conception of Edenic life (hinted at here and more explicitly in Aeropagitica (NAEL 8, 1.1816) are worked out on the stage of his imagination in Paradise Lost. The treatise disappeared soon after Milton's death and was only rediscovered in 1823.
My perspective on these points is as follows.
1. Saying the son and the spirit are subordinate to the father is compatible with a trinitarian ontology,
2. the Calvinist idea that atonement is limited to Christians is absurd (this is the 'L' in the famous TULIP acrostic),
3. dualism is an allegory which breaks down under scrutiny,
4. the physical resurrection at the last day is also an allegory, better understood by restoration of memory,
5. Milton's nonconformism, with the idea of the priesthood of all believers, presents an important rejection of papism.

It is not surprising that the Catholic reaction saw Milton's views on these topics as heretical, but they are hardly liberal in a modern sense.

Robert



Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:48 pm
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RT:"It is not surprising that the Catholic reaction saw Milton's views on these topics as heretical, but they are hardly liberal in a modern sense."
Milton had some views that were anathema to the Catholic heirarchy, but I agree that his heresy hardly constitutes for us a religious liberalism. For example in PL, Book III, 444-480, he disposes of those whom he considers to have been devoted to "vanity," in limbo. These include just about all the Catholic religious orders and pilgrims who journeyed to Palestine.



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Robert, thanks for the Christian Doctrine link. I hadn't found it.

Quote:
I find your use of the term 'liberal' hard to understand. In this context you seem to just mean anyone who is a freethinker.


A liberal is one who sees individual judgment as an ultimate good. That society is best which is based on respect for individual judgment. By giving everyone the opportunity to be heard, the creative abilities of individuals contribute to the welfare of the whole. The alternative to liberalism is authoritarianism in one form or another. "Freethinker" has a negative connotation in that it suggests that the individual is simply reacting against the conventional -- a nonconformist for the sake of nonconformity -- whereas a liberal might concluded on available personal experience that the conventional is the best possible. Liberal also implies an appreciation of cultural differences and of the cultures of the past.

Milton apparently assumes that the typical person is as deliberate and deliberative as he and on whom no external controls need be imposed. Thus, no Ten Commandments, no undissolvable marriage, no undissolvable linkage to body, no special clergy or Sabbath -- nothing above individual judgment. How much further out into Christian left field can one go? Anglicans (I think) -- not Catholics -- repressed Milton's views as heretical. Milton's denial of "the necessity of keeping the Sabbath or Sunday in any special way" would have offended Presbyterians as much as Catholics.

Famous TULIP acrostic indeed! It was as unknown to me as antitype to you :)

Tom



Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:49 am
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Tom: nothing above individual judgment. How much further out into Christian left field can one go?
Tom, you make some good points, but nothing above individual judgment? Wouldn't that be like Robert's dreaded relativism? (sorry, Robert, no disrepect intended). It's very difficult to imagine M with that attitude.



Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:11 am
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