Updates, Live

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reading John Carey: Milton's De Doctrina Christiana

title page of De Doctrina Christiana
written pre-1700, published before 1825
(source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended

In De Doctrina Christiana Milton rejects belief in Holy Trinity, and with it the belief that Christ, the Son of God, is of the same essence as God the Father. If the Father and the Son were of one essence (he briskly observes) it would follow that the Father was the Son's son, and the Son the Father's father. With similarly robust common sense he rejects the orthodox belief that God created the universe out of nothing. It is impossible, he asserts, to make anything out of nothing, and, since only God can have existed before the creation of the universe, He must have made the universe out of Himself.As the universe is made of matter, it follows that God must be made of matter too. Spirit is just a refined form of matter: everything that exists is matter (and advanced view for his day) ... the soul has no separate existence from the body and dies with the body.

Quite inflammatory sentences from a mainstream Christian perspective. So it goes (would maybe have said Vonnegut). De Doctrina Christiana is a manuscript in Latin, attributed to Milton, the question of authorship remaining controversial up to this day. It was translated in English twice: in 1825 by Charles Richard Sumner (who was a bishop of the Church of England, in Llandaff and then in Winchester) and in 1973 by John Carey, who worked on it for five years: a huge effort, and the real gain (said Carey) was the amount of knowledge he got about the mind that created Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.

(John Milton)

(John Carey)

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home