[An Epistemological Analysis of] Predestination and Free-Will in John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Sayyed Vahid Abtahi


Paradise Lost by John Milton is one of the most important literary works of the seventeenth century. In this epic in verse Milton, by displaying a portrait that combines Greek Mythology and Christian teachings, seeks to elucidate Divine Providence and man’s relation with God’s decree. He puts together Divine will-power and human determination to make the meaning understood of the Man’s Fall. Milton first adhered to Calvin’s school with regard to determinism and free will but afterward he turned to Arminianism.  In Calvinism, it is believed that man’s fall has been registered in God’s eternal knowledge, that is, the Fall was to happen according to the will of God from the beginning. Therefore, both the prosperity and salvation of humankind are dependent upon God’s decision. However, in the Arminius’ school, it is believed that man is free and has authority to either accept or reject the Divine favor. From Milton’s viewpoint, predestination is God’s foreknowledge about the occurrence of events not about the creation of events. Consequently, if we consider man’s will-power on the basis of this belief of Milton, man may also become possessed of Divine decision (Divine will-power).


Arminius, Freedom of will, predestination, determinism, salvation, Calvin, prosperity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.3n.3p.83


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