We are always to consider the wider spiritual implications of an event, which transports us to a meditation of the spiritual realm, not the physical. This rendering of an image without description is exhibited in the numerous battles between Israel and the Philistines, and in particular by the contest between David and Goliath. Chaim Herzog and Mordechai Gichon, in their study of biblical warfare, make several important observations about this incident. First, Saul's army is "inferior to the Philistines in armaments of all kinds, and it completely lack[s] chariots.
Precisely where these armies 18 are located is uncertain. But neither side possesses the necessary strength to break through the enemy lines, which makes this battle "not one of movement, in which there is spoil for the taking, but a long-drawn-out v. That the Philistines should offer to have the battle decided in a single contest between two warriors is unusual—this is the only episode of its kind in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Indeed, the name "Goliath" is foreign, and the practice of a champion, "a man 20 who fights between battle lines" is one that is more Greek than Hebrew. Herzog and Gichon emphasize this foreignness when they interpret Goliath as "clad in full Homeric 21 panoply. Elhanan is mentioned again in 1 Chronicles I am not worried about arguing the historical accuracy of this account, like Herzog and Gichon who contend that "endocrinology has been marshaled to prove convincingly that limited eyesight, common in tall, strong people, could have hampered Goliath's capability to react correctly to David's aiming his s l ing.
More than enemies meeting, the battle between David and Goliath presents us with two paradigms of belief in opposition. It is telling that Goliath is granted the more thorough physical description, for he comes against the Israelites incorporating all the features that we normally associate with epic characters, and the Hebrew writer focuses his descriptive energy onto the uncircumcised Philistine: And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. A n d he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: A n d he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? A m not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to k i l l me, then wi l l we be your servants: A n d the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
Robert Alter notes that in the Hebrew Scriptures "full-scale descriptions almost never occur, Goliath himself being one of the few marginal exceptions. We are not told how Goliath's muscles bulged as he flaunted his mighty spear, nor how his helmet would have "made [him] look particularly terrifying. Goliath "moves into the action as a man of iron and 26 bronze, an almost grotesquely quantitative embodiment of a hero. Our 33 eyes are averted from Goliath the person onto the weapons he carries. Goliath carries the latest and best weapons, and he is as well-protected as humanly possible.
But he is Godless. Several aspects concerning Goliath's lack of physical description warrant our attention. First, it is possible that the lack of physical description occurs because very little can be seen, "to show that the Philistine was protected as well as possible, so that his assailant would have no possible opening.
Peter Miscal l interprets the preponderance of weaponry as rendering him a "big man encumbered by heavy armour with little range in combat and vulnerable to an attack launched from a distance. David is "ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to" 1 Sm The Israelites are terrified because Goliath is physically larger than any one from their ranks, and he wields weapons of which they can only dream. But their focus is not to be on what is seen but on God who is unseen; and when we come to God's answer to Goliath, we encounter someone who is his opposite: David is small, slight, and young.
The writer emphasizes this disparity by describing David's appearance after Saul equips him: A n d David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it.
And David said to Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. But the image addresses the faith of Saul, who believes that strength is to be found in the physical realm alone. David's decision to refuse this armour for his own meagre clothing is a visible refutation of his fellow soldiers' faith in physical objects; in contrast to the well-clad Philistine, David steps forward clad only in the assurance of his God's provision.
So David advances in his shepherd's clothing, carrying a staff, a sling, and five 29 smooth stones. The image is sublimely ludicrous: There would seem to be more than a little of the humour that Herbert Brichto finds to be characteristic of the Hebrew Scriptures. However, the lesson for readers is obvious: Furthermore, David's triumph over Goliath draws our attention not to David's use of the sling but to his faith and obedience.
The victory is a type of kenosis since it emphasizes David's inadequacy and God's strength—without God, David would have failed. In reading this account, we do not marvel at David's remarkable use of his sling but at God's use of David. Hebraic Representations of God 35 Goliath and David's physical appearance is not depicted in detail by the writer, but they are presented as real people fighting a real battle.
Let me extrapolate my observations concerning this episode onto the larger issue regarding the appearances of God.
A n absence of detail in the description of God does not imply the absence of God. In truth, God is depicted as fully as many other characters. In analyzing God's request that Abraham offer up Isaac, Auerbach argues that i f we picture Abraham bowing with outspread arms or gazing upward, "God is not there too.
For Auerbach, "God is always so represented in the Bible, for he is not comprehensible in his presence, as is Zeus; it is always only 'something' of him that appears, he always extends into the depths. But God does appear in a bodily form, meeting with Abraham by the oaks of Mamre as a desert traveller.
God is not only an abstract idea or concept, nor is he bound to the strict conventions of reason or logic; rather, he enjoys a freedom that transcends human categories. We witness this in God's physical manifestations when he participates in human affairs and visits his creatures as an equal.
It is logical that God should enjoy a physical form, even though he is free from substantiality. Yochanan Muffs develops this logic by arguing that, 36 While the ancient Israelite was forbidden to make any concrete and plastic image of God, it would have been strange indeed i f God, the source and creator of the human personality, did not Himself have a real and concrete personhood, something which He so generously bestowed upon man, His creation.
A n d i f God is somehow a person, He must logically have a form which can be seen even though this form was free from substantiality. Thus, Moses and the Elders actually see the physical manifestation of the Lord sitting on a throne supported by a dais of lapis lazuli. Similarly, Ezekiel sees the Lord as a man sitting astride his movable throne made o f fiery angelic beings. What profoundly shocking, mysterious images dance before our eyes, enough to stimulate and nourish the imaginations of a 33 thousand painters and poets.
History bears testimony to the painters and poets who have had their imaginations stimulated and nourished by the "mysterious" appearances of God; but what is "profoundly shocking" is that despite these physical manifestations of God, Mil ton chooses to marginalize God's corporeality. In confronting the God of biblical tradition, Mi l ton 37 encountered diverse accounts that betray the idea of tradition as the uninterrupted transmission of a singular belief. In contrasting the Homeric mode of representation with the Hebraic, Auerbach argues that Homer concentrates on presenting a uniformly illuminated and uniformly objective present.
Within the Homeric narrative frame, there are no unexpressed psychological depths but an immediate present in which all of the character's thoughts and actions are externalized. There is a delight in physical existence, and in enjoying all the pleasures of this world. In the Hebraic text, Auerbach finds the opposite to be true, for here the emphasis is on background not foreground, with the most important features remaining unexpressed.
The most important feature, of course, would be God: Yet all these vital details are conspicuously absent from this account, so that when God speaks to Abraham, we cannot locate him within the picture. This is only one manifestation of Yahweh, however, and Auerbach's analysis is strained when we apply it to the occasions when God does appear on the same level as the people he visits. To accommodate the variety of God's appearances requires a more dynamic framework: He may speak to Job from the midst of a mighty whirlwind Jb He allows Jacob to wrestle with him. In the Sinai Theophany, we encounter a picnic scene, with Moses and the seventy elders of Israel sitting and eating a covenant meal with him Ex And he permits Abraham to argue with him regarding the number of righteous needed to spare Sodom.
This is an extremely perplexing account, due in part to its alleged composition; Jacob Licht remarks that "the piece cannot be properly called a single, well-integrated story; but it is not a bunch of quite independent stories either. And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre; and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; A n d when he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, A n d said, M y lord, i f now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant; Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: A n d I w i l l fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
A n d Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. A n d Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hastened to dress it. A n d he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. The meeting is bereft of emotion save for Abraham's excited preparations and politeness.
It seems peculiar that God should choose to appear with no special effects, because this meeting is miraculous—the intersecting of the Creator with his creation. God has chosen to appear to the work he has fashioned out of clay; yet he appears almost nonchalantly with two mysterious others.
While it is not clear that Abraham recognizes his visitors as divine, there are no clues to indicate that he believes they are only desert travellers. His form of address does not change; yet by the end of this passage, it is clear that Abraham knows he is entertaining God. Vawter notices how the "three men" seem "at times to become two men or even one man and eventually are denominated angels, [and] certainly signify in this story Yahweh, the only 3 7 Lord of Israel. Speiser interprets the ambiguity of these persons' identity as expressing Abraham's 40 courtesy, since "his spontaneous hospitality to seemingly ordinary human beings is thus all the more impressive.
Auerbach's claims that Yahweh is to be imagined either further within the scene or outside of its immediate borders is incompatible with this episode, since Abraham is talking directly with God: The only person who is not pictured is Sarah, who has stayed in the tent. If we must picture the physical features of the people involved, then we rely as heavily on our imagination as we do with David and Goliath.
God and the other "two men" constitute as much of this scene as Abraham. That God enjoys the food and rests in the shade intimates his participation in a physical realm—his form is as physical as Abraham's. Abraham addresses all three of his visitors with the same appellation, and it is curious that they first speak in unison, " A n d they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife?
Herbert Brichto argues provocatively that Abraham knows immediately that these visitors are divine, shown by his initial act of obeisance and the manner in which he pleads for them to stay, " M y Lord, i f now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant" Brichto speculates that this is Yahweh choosing to reveal "Himself simultaneously as One and three, three men—never called angels—who put away a feast worthy of Rabelais' Gargantua or Pantagruel; who splits himself into two parties: What is clear, finally, is that God is as physically present in this scene as Abraham and Sarah.
M y point in this exploration is not to argue that centuries of criticism have overlooked an important consideration, or that Brichto's reading is the more compelling. Instead, I wish to focus attention on the variety of God's appearances. We are misguided i f we hold that God is never seen, for he is as visibly and forcibly presented as Saul, David, Goliath, or Abraham. A conception of God as someone who appears randomly and in various forms would seem to contradict what he himself has to say; namely, that "you cannot see M y face, for no man may see M e and live" Ex This apparently straightforward statement is perplexing since nine verses earlier we read that "the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend" Ex Isaiah and Ezekiel 's Representation of God We cannot relegate sightings of God to the old mythic world of the J narrative, since God appears beyond the time of the Pentateuch.
Isaiah records possibly the best known account of divine revelation, it is generally conceded that there are two Isaiah authors, and of the first Isaiah's style, Samuel Driver writes that its dominant characteristics "are grandeur and beauty of conception, wealth of imagination, vividness of illustration, compressed energy and splendour of diction.
No prophet has Isaiah's power either of conception or of expression; none has the same command of noble thoughts, or can present them in the same noble and attractive language. In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the Temple. Above it stood the seraphim: And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: A n d the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King , the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who wi l l go for us?
Then said I, Here am I; send me. In truth, this is a critical moment in Israel's history; K i n g Uzziah's death marks the end of an era of strength and prosperity, bringing "a time of decision and destiny. Yahweh's revelation and his purification of Isaiah's lips the instruments of praise , demonstrate the active role God wi l l take in meeting with his people and his enabling them to meet with him.
Isaiah's experience is difficult to define: Above all, the holiness of God is emphasized, with the threefold use o f "holy" drawing attention to the Lord's holiness: Threefold repetition, though rare, is a particularly forceful way of emphasizing an idea. The basis for this fact lies. Holiness is a theme that unifies the book of Isaiah, and in this context it refers to God's transcendent sovereignty over the world and to his moral authority which derives from his royal position.
John MacArthur notes that Isaiah's "diction is opulent. Figures of the utmost boldness and loftiness crowd one another. God's revelation to Isaiah would have been a stunning visual event, yet little time is spent presenting us with physical details of God. We are told the seraphim have six wings, but can only conjecture what these wings looked like and how they were attached.
Though the seraph is a spiritual being, it uses the tongs to place a burning coal on Isaiah's lips. Isaiah's experience encompasses the range of physical sensation: Despite these descriptions, the reason for this experience, God, is not depicted. Isaiah says that he "saw the Lord sitting on a throne," but this is all that is said of the Lord's appearance. The dearth of visual features 45 demonstrates two aspects of Isaiah's experience—his humility and God's majesty.
The Hebrew word for "glory" can also be translated as "radiant presence," a term by which the priests referred to God's indwelling in their midst Ez 1: M In Isaiah's experience, God's holiness makes it impossible to behold him. Speaking with a stormy eloquence, the prophet Ezekiel presents us with another vision of God. His phrases are rough-hewn; they jar our ear. His is the voice of one "crying in the wilderness," the uncivilized prophet delivering God's stern judgment on the civilized decadence of his people.
This savage makes a prophecy to the world—the prophecy of progress. Ezekiel wi l l reconstruct. Isaiah refuses civilization; Ezekiel accepts, but transforms it. It is man's consolation that the future is to be a sunrise instead of a sunset. Time presents works for time to come; work, then, and hope! Such 52 is Ezekiel 's cry. Hugo is characteristically romantic in his unbounded enthusiasm for Ezekiel, since there is little consolation or hope in Ezekiel 's fierce prophecy against Israel.
In truth, God promises Ezekiel that he wi l l be ignored: For his efforts, Ezekiel is promised exclusion and ridicule; the burning coal of God's message wi l l scar the prophet. Ezekiel was unique because he "acted out many of his messages to the people instead of delivering them orally. Ezekiel w i l l suffer visually, so that the people may see plainly the magnitude of their sin. Norman Gottwald argues that Ezekiel 's language reflects the severity of his message, likening his "bold and jabbing style" to "gobs of pigment smeared on canvas.
Robert Pfeiffer notes that "the details of the ship of Tyre are so true to life that Ezekiel 27, together with the Odyssey and Acts 27, is one of the most important literary sources for our knowledge about ancient navigation. Though his account is "true to life" he describes God by means of what is around him, never presenting the centre of the vision.
Ezekiel 's vision includes angels; but where Isaiah encountered two seraphim, each having three sets of wings, Ezekiel sees four cherubim, "and every one had four faces, and every one had four wings" 1: While the seraphim's countenances are likened to that of a man, Ezekiel's account of the cherubim is less human, since of their four faces, "they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: Robert Chisholm observes that Ancient Near Eastern sculpture contains many similar images of part-human, part-animal throne bearers, which demonstrates God's accommodating of himself to the cultural situation of his people.
Whether we may connect Ezekiel 's vision of the wheels to the phenomenon of extraterrestrial life is not 47 within the scope of my discussion. Ezekiel 's visionary experience concludes with a vision of God: Above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about it.
A s the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. A n d when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake, and he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I w i l l speak unto thee. Ezekiel then spots the wheels, which touch the earth and reach into the sky; and the description of the wheels and their turning returns our gaze to the heavens, leading us up to encounter the pinnacle of Ezekiel 's vision, because at the highest point, above the wheels, angels, and firmament is God, seated on his throne.
Precisely what Ezekiel sees of God is unclear, and it is perplexing that he can discern any feature. Around the throne is fire; above and below the 58 figure's loins is fire, which is surrounded with brightness like a rainbow. Given the 48 radiant brilliance of this image, how can Ezekiel determine the presence of "loins? It is customary to represent God by means of synecdoche, of which "the hand [is] by far the most ancient As soon as he appears Ezekiel and Isaiah fall on their faces, which contrasts with Abraham's experience, when God appears to him by the Oaks of Mamre and he does not prostrate himself; instead, he prepares a meal for them to enjoy together.
In Isaiah and Ezekiel, God's countenance is obfuscated by his glory; it is his brightness alone that they can see. For Abraham, God appears as just another desert traveller. God's brilliance so overwhelms Ezekiel that he is prevented from seeing much of him. Anderson observes how "Ezekiel has often been likened to Calvin, because of his emphasis on the majesty of G o d. While Ezekiel provides lucid details about the cherubim, all that he records of God is the "appearance of his loins. God's appearance is similar to the wheels, since his loins form the centre around which the appearance of fire radiates, and around that is yet another sphere of brightness; but with the wheels, Ezekiel can discern eyes, wheels turning inside wheels, and the direction the wheels are moving.
A s Ezekiel looks upon this brightness he looks upwards. His gaze has followed the cherubim's descent, been 49 returned to the firmament by following the wheel's rim, and has now settled upon the highest point—God on his throne. This progression prepares us for the final dramatic movement, which is the collapse of the prophet before his God: In the space of one line, Ezekiel 's gaze plummets from the throne of God to the earth beneath him.
The transition is brusque, showing us how quickly Ezekiel is humbled by God's presence. Ezekiel 's depiction has been exclusively visual to this point, save for the sound of the cherubim's wings 1: No more of God is seen, save only a hand holding a roll of a book" 2: Ezekiel 's record stresses the ineffable glory of God. So powerful is his encounter with God that a glimpse of his glory lays the prophet flat. Milton's Holy God The accounts of Ezekiel and Isaiah are rhetorically brilliant, with the drama of the prophet's call matched only by the poet's skill in recording it.
In their visions of God, the capabilities of rhetoric are pushed to their utmost. A sense of solemn occasion dominates their vision of God, and we see in these accounts the prophet using the skills of the poet to convey the power of God's glory. Both Ezekiel and Isaiah stress their own inadequacy within God's awesome presence, and both are essentially passive spectators. Yet how different are these encounters with God from those experienced by Moses, Abraham, or 50 Jacob.
It is almost inconceivable to picture the God of Ezekiel on the heights east of Hebron haggling with Abraham over the number of righteous required to spare judgment; it is equally baffling to imagine the God who commissions Isaiah and Ezekiel arguing with Moses over his willingness to speak with Pharaoh. With the prophets there are none of the subtle traces of humour we find in God's meeting with Abraham. Solemnity dominates their accounts—we are led into the Temple of the Lord, into the Holy of Holies.
How Isaiah or Ezekiel "sees" God is more consonant with Auerbach's analysis, since with Abraham, God is on the same level, even eating the same food, which requires a very different conception of God than that presented by the prophets, for whom God is enthroned, "lofty and exalted"; his train fills the Temple and his holiness demands reverence and atonement.
Sacredness pervades Isaiah and Ezekiel; and to "see" God is to be overpowered, to witness at once the incommensurability of God and man. The prophetic accounts do not provide a physical depiction of God, though they graphically represent the features accompanying his arrival. The God of the prophets is not bargained with nor is he entertained as a houseguest; he demands and is deserving of praise; he is "high and lifted up.
In Mil ton 's epic, there is never a time when the Father is not on his throne. When we first encounter God, he is "High Thron'd above all highth" 3. In the angelic hymn of celebration that concludes the celestial council scene in book 3, the angelic hosts offer a "sacred song" of praise to the Father and the Son. Godhead is 51 presented as transcending all categories of conceptualization, and God is celebrated as follows: Thee Father first they sung Omnipotent, Immutable, Immortal, Infinite, Eternal K ing ; thee Author of all being, Fountain of Light, thy self invisible Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st Thron'd inaccessible.
Like Isaiah and Ezekiel, God's "glorious brightness" defeats any attempts on the part of the writer to ascribe physical attributes to this supreme being. Unlike the prophets, Mi l ton must be drawn up to heaven to encounter this radiant presence; God does not descend to the earth. God's brightness, his being a "fountain of light," provides light so that the poet can see; yet it is this same light which prevents the poet and the angels from seeing God himself.
God is inaccessible, not only to a human audience, but to an angelic one as well. Mil ton 's depiction of God plays on the paradox of conceiving the incomprehensibility o f God. So bright is God, so dazzling his presence, that even his angels are unable to behold him. Apparently, God is aware of his brilliance and so he shades the "full blaze" of his radiant beams, but it avails not: Even so, the "brightest seraphim" cannot approach and must veil their eyes.
This recalls the imagery of Isaiah 6: In Mil ton, the seraphim cover their faces to shield themselves from God, for not even the holiest of God's attendants dare approach him. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the arrival of God need not correspond with an experience of the sublime; indeed, some of his appearances are not visionary at all, but common. It is fascinating to read'of Moses' death in Deuteronomy, because it is told that God himself buries Moses' body However, judging from Abraham's experience, he, too, knew the Lord face to face, but the manner in which he "knew" God is very different from that of Moses, Isaiah, or Ezekiel.
These differences cannot be solely attributed to the difference of people or ages, for the God who promises Abraham a son, appears quite differently when he asks him to sacrifice that son. To reach 53 into the Hebrew Scriptures in order to find a single, unified, and static tradition of depicting God is to reach in vain. What then shall we say of Milton's God and the biblical tradition?
First, we should understand something of the nature of Hebraic representation, for its manner of depiction is unique. Second, we should realize how diversely God is portrayed, since his manifestations span the spectrum of human experience: Milton's task of making God an active character in his epic was far more difficult than reaching for the Bible of his youth. The range of God's depictions can be divided into two categories. One, God is anthropomorphic: These categories are artificial and potentially reductive, but they bring to light an important aspect—Milton's God most closely resembles the God of Isaiah and Ezekiel.
Fortress Press, , Cornell University Press, , Oxford University Press, , University of Missouri Press, , v i i. Clarendon Press, , s. Times Books, , s.
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Wordsworth Editions, , s. Basic Books, , Princeton University Press, , Doubleday Books, , Martin Evans, Milton's Imperial Epic: Cornell University Press, , 41 1 3 Lewalski, Macmil lan Publishing, , Schoken Press, , xxix. Stackpole Books, , Westminster Press, , Pratt, Hebrew Bible, Scholars and Fortress, , Oxford University Press, Magnes Press, , Doubleday and Company, , Moody Press, , G n Driver, Hebrew Bible, Eerdmans, , Baker Academic, , Fort Knox , , Appleton Press, , Tullock, The Old Testament Story, 6 t h ed.
Upper Saddle River, N J: Prentice Ha l l , , Gottwald, A Light to the Nations: Harper, , Harper Press, , Duke University Press, Creator and Creation in Genesis and Paradise Lost Mil ton was an enthusiastic reader of the Hebrew Scriptures, and his knowledge of the biblical languages and of the literature surrounding Scripture enabled him to engage in sophisticated dialogue with the Bible and its commentators. In a letter dated March 27, , Mil ton thanked his former tutor, Thomas Young, for his gift of a Hebrew Bible, "and professed to 'rejoice and almost exult' that this 'Father' and 'best of Teachers' has now become an equal friend.
It is one matter for a reader to find God under a tree enjoying a meal and to then read of him descending clad in the panoply of his glory; and it is quite another matter to confront these depictions as a poet whose goal is to "justify the ways of God to men. To speak of Mil ton and the biblical tradition is to overlook a fundamental truth—God is portrayed variously in the Scriptures, with no seamless transmission of a single "tradition" of Godly depictions.
The Hebrew God confounds systematizing. B y examining Milton's depiction of the relationship between Adam and Eve and God, I w i l l shed light on Mil ton 's conception of God. Diverging from Genesis, Mi l ton incorporates into his narrative a perspective that places God, as encountered by Adam 58 and Eve. Mi l ton modifies the God of Genesis in favour of a more sublime and majestic portrait. In this regard, I depart from the argument made by Jason Rosenblatt, who contends that, "before the Fal l , Adam is compared with figures from the Pentateuch, most notably with Abraham and Moses, who lived in the days of easy intimacy between humankind and God.
After the fall, the Hebrew Bible 's heroes, images, and events are devalued peremptorily. This is not a consequence wrought by the Fal l , as Rosenblatt contends, but the abiding reality of God's presence in Paradise Lost. The liberty Mil ton takes in interpreting Adam and Eve's experience of God is doubly informative. First, I wi l l examine the interaction between God and Adam and Eve in Genesis and in Paradise Lost, and I wi l l argue that Mil ton wil l ingly chooses to depart from biblical precedence.
Second, it is telling to observe where Mil ton 's account departs from the biblical account, since by changing the degree to which Adam and Eve see God, Mil ton signals his own conception of how God would have appeared to our first parents. Milton's Adam does not participate as fully in his relationship with God as does the 59 Adam of Genesis. I mean to imply not that Mil ton 's account unintentionally places him in the Devil ' s party, but that Mil ton 's description of God in the garden bears more in common with the God of the prophets than it does with the God of Genesis.
Mil ton could have chosen to present God in a more physical and visible form. Instead of expanding upon the Genesis account, where Adam and Eve walk and talk with God in the cool of the evening, Mil ton fashions his account in the prophetic mode, where God appears in his glory and is presented with high artistry. In Paradise Lost Adam and Eve, though unfallen and newly formed, experience God in a manner similar to the postlapsarian prophets. Mil ton finds for his precedent not the episodes where God appears in modestly human terms, but rather those events where God is "seen" in all his glory and majesty.
The wandering God who appears as a desert nomad to Abraham is marginalized, and in his place we find a God who is "thron'd inaccessible. Mi l ton seems to have understood something of the two viewpoints of creation, since, as in Genesis, Paradise Lost contains two perspectives of creation.
The first, told to Adam by Raphael, provides a general overview of the six days of creation; the second, which Adam relates to Raphael, gives us a richly detailed record of Adam and Eve's creation and their first moments together. Male he created thee, but thy consort Female for Race: Interestingly, Mi l ton includes the verbs "forrn'd" and "breath'd," which critics consider to be the hallmark of the J writer.
Mil ton presumably knew nothing of the distinction among J, E , or P writers. Rather we can follow C A. Patrides when he summarizes that, "To the orthodox the entire Pentateuch beginning with the first chapter of Genesis—written, it was traditionally believed, by Moses—constituted an infallible history of the origin and initial progress of the human race. These lines resonate with Gn 1: A n d God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the 61 earth and subdue it. Rather than have this account by Raphael precisely express the first creation account in Genesis, Mil ton has Raphael add the crucial terms "form'd" and "breath'd" from the second account, essentially marrying the two, which renders these two accounts as two views of the same phenomenon.
The Intimacy of the Genesis God In depicting God, however, Mil ton appears less concerned with writing in a style answerable to the Scriptures. Mil ton 's attention to the subtleties and nuances of Genesis constitutes a curious contrast to his apparent departure from that text's depiction of God interacting with Adam and Eve. In Paradise Lost, God maintains a peculiar distance from his creation, and his depiction is ambiguous. Adam's retelling of his creation to Raphael, which provides a second, "man's-eye-view" of creation, demonstrates this detachment.
This episode presented Mil ton with a superb opportunity to describe God; yet Mi l ton does not provide a scene in which God and Adam converse as they do in the Genesis account, or as we read that God and Moses or God and Abraham did. Instead, Adam encounters God in a state hovering between reality and the unconscious, like a prophet in the throes of a vision. In order to emphasize the singularity of Milton's treatment of Adam and God's relationship, let me begin with a few remarks concerning Adam's first thoughts.
In Paradise Lost, Adam relates to Raphael the earliest moments of his dawning 62 consciousness. First, we should notice the tremendous difficulty Milton places before himself, since he does not envision Adam's consciousness as developing; rather, Adam is already developed; immediately he begins to process external phenomena. Milton does not have Adam, as a child, gradually begin to take greater notice of his environment as his faculties develop and increase.
He does not gradually wake from his unconscious slumber and begin to observe his own features and those of his environment with a similarly waking comprehension: He begins thinking with the same ease and instinct with which he stands: For Adam to stand is as natural as it is for him to think.
It would seem logical that Adam would learn to use his cognitive faculties even as he exercises them to locate himself; instead, he is completely and instantly cognizant. Adam's unfallen reason leads him, in the space of twenty-five lines, to realize that his existence must be the work of "some great Maker then" 8. Adam sees first the sky and the sun: That Adam's gaze should be "straight toward heav'n" implies that he is lying on his back and that in an unfallen world the creature will instinctively look to the source of its creation.
Milton achieves a splendid contrast here between Adam lying on his back and the earlier record of Satan outstretched on his back in hell. For Adam, it is natural that his eyes should move "straight toward heav'n," since he is stretched out with his back on the ground. In this position, his eyes begin their first moment of consciousness by looking upon "heav'n. We first encounter Satan in a similar position: Since Satan is lying on his back, he should be looking upward to heaven, as Adam does. By saying that Satan is talking with his "Head up-lift above the wave," we can infer that Satan has bent his neck and is not looking up.
Satan's defeat and exile to hell should turn his thoughts toward heaven and God; yet, even here, forced onto his back, Satan bends his neck and thoughts away from his Creator. The contrast is subtle but telling: Adam lying on his back turns his wondering eyes to heaven, while Satan, in the realm of eternal wandering, kinks his neck to conspire with Beelzebub against heaven. But Adam is also alone. He does not immediately see God; rather, he postulates God's presence by examining himself and his surroundings.
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Adam's first moments are wonderful, and he possesses all the charm and vitality of a child rejoicing in the delightful reality of young life: Marjorie Nicolson remarks that "we feel the pleasure of watching a child in the scene in which Adam discovers his body, now walking, now running, in the sheer joy of using his limbs. Not of myself; by some great Maker then The hills, dales, woods, plains, and sun, and all that lives and moves, point to the presence of a maker.
The word "fair" suggests the general pleasantness and the equitable existence of all creation: It is through his careful interpretation of this "fair" world that Adam comes to realize the existence of God, which echoes a similar belief expressed in The Christian Doctrine when Milton argues that God "has left The progression of Adam's observations, from the "ample skie" to the "birds on the branches warbling," implies an innate knowledge that gradually encompasses larger portions of creation.
In beholding his world, Adam learns to wonder at the beauty and craftsmanship of every creature, and is led to recognize the presence of its author. Adam inherently quests to discover his origin. Merritt Hughes traces the belief in the creation of humanity to correspond with the Creator "through classical literature from Plato to Cicero and Ovid Augustine's Confessions, when he equates such celestial conversation as the essence of peace: Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise, your power is Immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning.
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And so we humans, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you. You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you. God has both "drawn" his creation in such a way that they long for him, and he "draws" them to himself: It is only after Adam's logic has led him to postulate the existence of God and he has asked how he may "know him, how adore" 8.
This is a radical revision. In Genesis, Adam does not need to reason his way to God; he is formed and awakes in the presence of God. God is not explicitly sought, because he is there, with Adam taking his first breath presumably within inches of God's face. In Genesis, God forms Adam out of the red clay, the adamah, and then "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" Gn 2: The verb "formed" expresses the relation of the craftsman to the material and the sovereignty of the maker.
Bruce Vawter notes that "formed" is "almost, though not quite, as much reserved for God in the Hebrew Old Testament as 'created. This image is widespread in the ancient world: In Egyptian art the god Khnum is shown before a potter's wheel busily fashioning man, and in the Wisdom of Amen-em-opert chap. The poetic imagery evoked by Genesis is made explicit in Job: The imagery expresses both the glory and insignificance of man, since God has formed him and breathed his own breath into him.
Simultaneously, he is but dust formed from the earth, mere clay in the hands of his God. An oft-cited analogue is "homo In fact, what distinguishes Adam from the other animals is the way in which God has formed him. Unlike the animals, Adam is formed by God's own hands, implying a more intimate relation between God and Adam than between God and the animals that he has spoken into existence. Greater care is taken with Adam—only Adam 67 and Eve come into existence through the warm touch of God's hands—they are of the utmost importance.
I border here on an anthropomorphism that Vawter is conscious to avoid. Simply because God "formed" Adam from the red clay need not imply that God has hands; but such an image does not necessarily signal anthropomorphism; rather it calls attention to the uniqueness of Adam's creation. The point is not whether God has hands, but that Adam was formed in a manner different from that of creation. The Hebraist relates the intimate and personal connection between God and humanity, established at creation.
Between God and the animals is the spoken word; between God and man is his touch. This intimacy is enforced by God's breathing life into Adam's nostrils. To call into being suggests a degree of detachment not admitted by God's "forming" of Adam. Longinus understood the awesome power contained in the Genesis account, choosing to include it as an example of "Great Writing," for he argues that the lawgiver of the Jews, no ordinary man, since he recognized and expressed divine power according to its worth, expressed that power clearly when he wrote at the beginning of his laws: Gerhard Von Rad argues that it is this divine breath, uniting with the material body, which "makes man a 'living soul' both from the physical as well as from the psychical side.
This life springs directly from God, as directly as the lifeless human body received breath from 68 God's mouth when he bent over i t. While the latter image is allegorical, the image of God breathing into Adam's nostrils emphasizes a bond that is spiritual and physical. It is difficult not to project onto this scene Elisha's resurrecting of the Shunammite woman's son, since when Elisha finds the child dead, he lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: Adam's life begins with God's breath, and God's active and personal role signifies that he is present; indeed, God's breathing into Adam's nostrils implies that God is bent over the man, his face just above him, his lips now touching what his hands have made.
V o n Rad notes how this passage 2: The word for breath is Nesama, and this "divine vital power is personified, individualized, but only by its entry into the material body; and only this breath when united with the body makes 18 man a ' l iving creature. Peculiar as this relationship may be, the Genesis account leaves little doubt about the unprecedented intimacy between God and Adam.
Adam's Recollection of God in Paradise Lost Milton incorporates the central features of Adam's creation, but he does not emphasize the physical intimacy which we have witnessed Genesis to contain. As in Genesis 2, Milton has Raphael use the same two verbs to relate Adam's creation. As in Genesis, Milton has God form Adam and breathe life into him. If Milton had said only this of Adam's creation, there would be little evidence of the prophetic mode. But since Paradise Lost is an epic retelling of the first three chapters of Genesis, it would seem logical to expect an expanded account of Adam's creation.
Indeed, given that Milton enlarges and enriches the creation of Eve, the animals, and the temptation and Fall, we should expect to find an amplified rendering of Adam's creation and his first conscious moments. We are not disappointed. One book later, Adam relates to Raphael his experience of creation. This imaginative account exhibits well the range and scope of Milton's creative genius, since he imagines what it is like to be formed out of clay and breathed into by God. Structurally, Milton follows the biblical precedent by first giving a general 70 account and then providing the more explicit record, even as Genesis 1 provides an overview that is expanded by Genesis 2.
Raphael informs Adam of the general features of his creation, and then Adam fleshes out the account by telling of his creation. And it is in Adam's detailed account that Milton noticeably modifies the Genesis account. Adam's account is ambiguous in that he is remembering events: Given Adam's prelapsarian condition, however, his memory may be presumed a reliable guide.
At what point does Adam's consciousness begin? In Genesis, it seems likely that he would have awakened and seen the face of God. At least, Adam would have gained consciousness in the physical presence of his maker, since God's breath brings him to life. We have observed that Genesis 2 leaves us with an abiding sense of the physical intimacy of Adam's creation, how God is present when Adam awakes.
In Milton, Adam awakes completely alone, As new wak't from soundest sleep Soft on the flow'ry herb I found me laid In Balmy Sweat, which with his Beams the Sun Soon dri'd, and on the reeking moisture fed. Roy Flannagan notes that this "would be the green growth near the ground, including grass and flowers but not shrubbery. Marjorie Nicolson suggests that Adam is created with the awareness of his own incompleteness, which is "augmented by the procession of living creatures that pass before him in pairs to be named.
But God is not there, at least not in the same highly corporeal sense as in Genesis. Adam does not awake to find his Creator; rather a bed of herbs and a shining sun welcome his first moments of life. I not only Rave it to them as a blood enricher and tonic, but also whenever they had bronchial coughs, and they always responded to this treatment. I aiwavs fplf safe. Whitlock boat yards, Rising Sun, Iud. These boats are to be 26 feet long and 14 feet wide and will be designed to develop a speed of 45 to 55 miles an hour. It is planned to operate the boats between Pittsburgh and Cairo. At the latter port they are to connect with a similar line to be operated between Cape Girardeau and St.
Withrow, Wednesday afternoon, May A special Mother's Day program has been arranged, with music in charge of Mrs. A miscellaneous shower for the Florence Crittenden home will be a feature of this meeting. Members are requested to note the change of the date. Newton and two daughters, of Los Angeles, Cal. Newton's cousin, William H. Newton visited in Monongahela about 20 years ago, at which time he met quite a number of our people.
The family will vteit the Isaac home for a few days, and then go on to New York where they will embark for England. Clifford, South 3d Ave. Pierce's Invalids Hotel in Buffalo, N. All paper bills over one month old must be paid on or before Monday, May 14th, otherwise papers will be stopped without further notice. FIVE room house and bath, cement!
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Edgar Leyda; quartett, "My Mother's Prayer3.
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Mc-Keo will continue hie talk on "Jerusalem. Call Boll Phone J. Lulu Darragh, organist, j will play.
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