John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 3 (ctd.)

God continues his lecture on grace freely extended to all and denied only to those who won’t accept it. But he will always accept prayer, repentance and obedience. However, before this plan is accomplished, he needs expiation. Man disobeys God and for that he must die with all his posterity. I noticed God always uses the present tense here, maybe because Milton wants to convey his omniscience which makes him exist out of time, so to say – for him there is only everlasting now. Also, the sudden switch from the message of forgiveness to the perspective of destruction of the whole mankind unless somebody dies is somewhat grating, but maybe it’s just my problems with the idea of redemption. Milton explains it just with one line “Die he or justice must”, which is not completely convincing to me. Anyway, man must die, unless somebody is willing to die for him. Everybody stands mute, until the Son of God offers himself. (Milton consistently avoids calling him Jesus, since this is the name he is going to assume after the incarnation.) The Son explains how he is going to die but not be dead forever; in fact he is going to resurrect and bring with him into Heaven a host of redeemed souls. Milton here indulges his passion for punning: “spoiled of his vaunted spoil;/Death his deaht’s wound shall then receive”, which makes me doubt a Helpful Footnote earlier in Book 1 pointing out that Satan is an inveterate punster. In fact, all characters here are, given a chance. God accepts the Son’s sacrifice, adding some more details like the virgin birth.

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