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On his visit to Eden, Raphael informs Adam and Eve that the universe was not created ex nihilo but rather de deo: everything was fashioned from out of the singular substance of God. This consubstantial connection to God proves universally ennobling by conferring upon each existent a divine origin and a divine composition. Milton's materialist monism, however, prevents him from participating in orthodox ideas of God that differentiate deity from all else on the basis of a divine ousia unique to him. Unable to locate God's divinity in a material difference, Milton sets God off from every other existent on the basis of creation. God is God because he alone created everything. In short, the ability to give life operates in Paradise Lost as the primary identifier of the one and only God. Everything in the epic hinges on acts of authorship because authorship is the ground of divinity.


This article was originally published in South Central Review, volume 21, in 2004.

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Johns Hopkins University Press



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