John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 12 (ctd.)

Adam is overjoyed with what he hears from Michael, but he thinks mistakenly that the multiple descendants of Abraham are the fulfilment of the promise made to him by God. He asks why they need so many laws if God chooses to live among them. Michael gets into a fairly complex theological discussion: the Israelites are still going to be sinful because of the taint of Adam’s original sin. The laws are for them to figure out what sin is but also to make them realize that laws cannot remove sin, and neither can “expiations weak” of animal sacrifice. So finally people are going to figure out that they need not animal sacrifice but the sacrifice of “more precious” blood, “just for unjust”, and they can be saved through their faith in him, which is going to give them justification. So the whole moral evolution, if I understand Michael correctly, is from the punctilious observance of numerous laws to being guided by one’s faith and conscience.  The next page is a brisk summary of the history of Israel: the judges, David, Solomon, the Babylonian exile, the return from Babylon, Macchabees, Roman rule and the birth of Jesus.

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