“That far be from thee”:
Divine Evil, Justification,
and the Evolution of the Son
from Warrior-King to Hero
When we talk about knowing God, it must be understood
in terms of man's limited powers of comprehension.
God, as he really is, is far beyond man's imagination,
let alone his understanding
—John Milton, De Doctrina Christiana
NONE OF MILTON'S CHARACTERS, NOT EVEN HIS GRANDILOQUENT AND bellicose Satan, has proven more disturbing for readers than the Father. Both characters read their critics as much as their critics read them. Reveal what you think of Satan and/or the Father, and you reveal something important about yourself.
Although critical discourse on Paradise Lost has often focused on the question of Satan and his heroism (or lack thereof), the Father provokes equally dichotomous reactions; curiously, however, there are no clearly identified “Fatherist” or “antiFatherist” camps, no labeling analogous to that which identifies the participants in the longrunning debates over Milton's Satan. Empson is not so much anti-Father as he is anti-God (or anti Christian God); likewise, C. S. Lewis is not so much a Fatherist as he is a booster for an Anglican