Milton's Good God: A Study in Literary Theodicy by Dennis Richard Danielson

By Dennis Richard Danielson

Few writers have accomplished the synthesis of paintings and concept that used to be attained through John Milton in Paradise misplaced. In that paintings the poet addressed essentially the most vital questions in philosophy and faith: How may God, if he's all-powerful and thoroughly sturdy, have made an international within which there's rather a lot evil? during this ebook Professor Danielson examines Paradise misplaced, concentrating on Milton's therapy of construction, chaos, predestination, loose will, God's foreknowledge, the autumn of guy and the character of human lifestyles earlier than the autumn. the writer thereby not just lays a scientific starting place for knowing Milton's defence of the creator's justice and goodness but in addition explores how the literary personality of that defence supplies it a different human energy, dramatic consistency and logical coherence. Milton's solid God is an interdisciplinary research, with a purpose to lead the scholar of literature to a deeper appreciation of Paradise misplaced whereas drawing the coed of principles to a fuller know-how of the significance of Milton's paintings for the fields of philosophy, theology and highbrow heritage.

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God and Chaos In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Gen. m-21 An obvious criticism of any theodicy that bases itself on a doctrine of the Fall, as Milton's by and large does, is that the Fall is an arbitrary place to start one's etiology: It may explain the postlapsarian condition, but how do you explain the Fall itself? That question leads us back to creation - as it did Milton. 3 It is also imperative, therefore, to consider Milton's theodicy not only in relation to the Fall, but also in relation to creation and Redemption.

14 Thus, in the most orthodox of writers, we find at least a hint of how the formless matter of the ancient pagan cosmogony might be syncretized with a Christian, nondualistic view of creation and the goodness of God. How Milton portrays that which "can scarcely be thought" we shall see presently. The third point is tangential to a consideration of creation and Chaos but will be relevant when we arrive at Chapter 6; I mention it now because it arises as part of Augustine's polemic against the Manichaeans.

First, so far as metaphysics is concerned, Milton asserts that it was impossible for God to have created the world ex nihilo, "not because of any defect of power or omnipotence on his part, but because it was necessary that something should have existed previously" (CD, p. 307). This reasoning is based partly on what Milton conceived to be the exact meaning of Scripture. " 37 Hence, concludes Milton, all things were made not out of nothing but out of matter, [and] matter must either have always existed, independently of God, or else originated from God at some point in time.

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