All early sources refer to the "sons of heaven" as angels. From the third century BCE onwards, references are found in the Enochic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Genesis Apocryphon, the Damascus Document, 4Q180), Jubilees, the Testament of Reuben, 2 Baruch, Josephus, and the book of Jude (compare with 2 Peter 2). For example: 1 Enoch 7:2 "And when the angels, (3) the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children." Some Christian apologists, such as Tertullian and especially Lactantius, shared this opinion.
The earliest statement in a secondary commentary explicitly interpreting this to mean that angelic beings mated with humans can be traced to the rabbinical Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and it has since become especially commonplace in modern-day Christian commentaries. This line of interpretation finds additional support in the text of Genesis 6:4 which juxtaposes the sons of God (male gender, divine nature) with the daughters of men (female gender, human nature). From this parallelism it could be inferred that the sons of God are understood as some superhuman beings. The New American Bible commentary draws a parallel to the Epistle of Jude and the statements set forth in Genesis, suggesting that the Epistle refers implicitly to the paternity of Nephilim as heavenly beings who came to earth and had sexual intercourse with women. The footnotes of the Jerusalem Bible suggest that the biblical author intended the Nephilim to be an "anecdote of a superhuman race".
Some Christian commentators have argued against this view, citing Jesus’s statement that angels do not marry. Others believe that Jesus was only referring to angels in heaven.
Evidence cited in favor of the fallen angels interpretation includes the fact that the phrase "the sons of God" (Hebrew: בְּנֵי הָֽאֱלֹהִים; or "sons of the gods") is used twice outside of Genesis chapter 6, in the Book of Job (1:6 and 2:1) where the phrase explicitly references angels. The Septuagint manuscript Codex Alexandrinus reading of Genesis 6:2 renders this phrase as "the angels of God" while Codex Vaticanus reads "sons". Targum Pseudo-Jonathan identifies the Nephilim as Shemihaza and the angels in the name list from 1 Enoch. The physical members of the Prince’s staff had been constituted sex creatures for the purpose of participating in the plan of procreating offspring embodying the combined qualities of their special order united with those of the selected stock of the Andon tribes, and all of this was in anticipation of the subsequent appearance of Adam. The Life Carriers had planned a new type of mortal embracing the union of the conjoint offspring of the Prince’s staff with the first-generation offspring of Adam and Eve. They had thus projected a plan envisioning a new order of planetary creatures whom they hoped would become the teacher- rulers of human society. Such beings were designed for social sovereignty, not civil sovereignty. But since this project almost completely miscarried, we shall never know what an aristocracy of benign leadership and matchless culture Urantia was thus deprived of. For when the corporeal staff later reproduced, it was subsequent to the rebellion and after they had been deprived of their connection with the life currents of the system.
77:2.3 The postrebellion era on Urantia witnessed many unusual happenings. A great civilization—the culture of Dalamatia—was going to pieces. "The Nephilim (Nodites) were on earth in those days, and when these sons of the gods went in to the daughters of men and they bore to them, their children were the `mighty men of old,’ the `men of renown.’" While hardly "sons of the gods," the staff and their early descendants were so regarded by the evolutionary mortals of those distant days; even their stature came to be magnified by tradition. This, then, is the origin of the well-nigh universal folk tale of the gods who came down to earth and there with the daughters of men begot an ancient race of heroes. And all this legend became further confused with the race mixtures of the later appearing Adamites in the second garden.
77:2.4 Since the one hundred corporeal members of the Prince’s staff carried germ plasm of the Andonic human strains, it would naturally be expected that, if they engaged in sexual reproduction, their progeny would altogether resemble the offspring of other Andonite parents. But when the sixty rebels of the staff, the followers of Nod, actually engaged in sexual reproduction, their children proved to be far superior in almost every way to both the Andonite and the Sangik peoples. This unexpected excellence characterized not only physical and intellectual qualities but also spiritual capacities.
The matter of Eve’s sincerity amid her fall into sin is arguably more complicated than that of Satan’s. Eve’s sin is precipitated by Satan’s rhetorical seduction when the lone Eve is met by Satan disguised as a serpent who claims he has been given reason and speech by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; and Eve being alone is the result of her unfortunate decision, for the sake of working more efficiently, to temporarily separate from Adam, a separation Adam agrees to despite first warning Eve that Satan is in Eden seeking their destruction. As many critics have noted, had Eve not left Adam’s presence, she would almost certainly have not succumbed to Satan’s rhetoric.10 But Milton’s text does suggest that Eve’s departure, however lacking foresight, was motivated by a sincere desire to work the garden more productively. At the same time, Milton’s text also suggests that Eve’s theological understanding, whatever her sincere motives, is already somewhat compromised by the time she leaves Adam, a factor that contributes to her spiritual vulnerability. Moreover, as Eve prepares to eat the forbidden fruit, and even more so when she encourages Adam to do likewise, she demonstrates, critical attempts to argue otherwise notwithstanding, a corruption of theology and intent that reveals her insincerity in both the senses that this essay has been discussing.
Gondwana formed part of Pangaea for c. 150 Ma
Gondwana and Laurussia formed the Pangaea supercontinent during the Carboniferous. Pangaea began to break up in the Mid-Jurassic when the Central Atlantic opened. In the western end of Pangaea, the collision between Gondwana and Laurussia closed the Rheic and Palaeo-Tethys oceans. The obliquity of this closure resulted in the docking of some northern terranes in the Marathon, Ouachita, Alleghanian, and Variscan orogenies, respectively. Southern terranes, such as Chortis and Oaxaca, on the other hand, remained largely unaffected by the collision along the southern shores of Laurentia. Some Peri-Gondwanan terranes, such as Yucatán and Florida, were buffered from collisions by major promontories. Other terranes, such as Carolina and Meguma, were directly involved in the collision. The final collision resulted in the Variscan-Appalachian Mountains, stretching from present-day Mexico to southern Europe. Meanwhile, Baltica collided with Siberia and Kazakhstania which resulted in the Uralian orogeny and Laurasia. Pangaea was finally amalgamated in the Late Carboniferous-Early Permian but the oblique forces continued until Pangaea began to rift in the Triassic.Space prevents an extensive analysis of Adam and Eve’s lengthy dialogue immediately preceding her departure.11 But of particular interest is the narrator’s comment that Eve, hurt by Adam’s urgings that she stay with him lest she be vulnerable to Satan on her own, “thought / Less attributed to her Faith sincere” (99.319–20).12 It is most significant that Milton’s narrator describes Eve’s faith as “sincere”—a sincerity that falls under the category of “unfeigned honesty”12—because the couple’s dialogue has earlier revealed that Eve, although still unfallen, has already strayed into theological error. Eve specifically speaks erroneously when, responding to Adam’s initial misgivings concerning Eve’s proposed departure, she objects, regarding Satan, that “His violence thou fearst not, being such, / As wee, not capable of death or paine, / Can either not receave, or can repell” (99.282–84). Eve’s error—which Adam, to his loss, fails to specifically confront—is to say that she and Adam are “not capable of death or paine,” a statement that contradicts God’s commandment to Adam that if he eats of the Tree of Knowledge, he “shalt dye” (88.330).References to the offspring of Seth rebelling from God and mingling with the daughters of Cain are found from the second century CE onwards in both Christian and Jewish sources. e.g. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Augustine of Hippo, Sextus Julius Africanus, and the Letters attributed to St. Clement. It is also the view expressed in the modern canonical Amharic Ethiopian Orthodox Bible: Henok 2:1–3 "and the Offspring of Seth, who were upon the Holy Mount, saw them and loved them. And they told one another, ‘Come, let us choose for us daughters from Cain’s children; let us bear children for us.’"
Orthodox Judaism has taken a stance against the idea that Genesis 6 refers to angels or that angels could intermarry with men. Shimon bar Yochai pronounced a curse on anyone teaching this idea. Rashi and Nachmanides followed this. Pseudo-Philo, Biblical Antiquities 3:1–3 may also imply that the "sons of God" were human. Consequently, most Jewish commentaries and translations describe the Nephilim as being from the offspring of "sons of nobles", rather than from "sons of God" or "sons of angels". This is also the rendering suggested in the Targum Onqelos, Symmachus and the Samaritan Targum which read "sons of the rulers", where Targum Neophyti reads "sons of the judges". Likewise, a long-held view among some Christians is that the "sons of God" were the formerly righteous descendants of Seth who rebelled, while the "daughters of men" were the unrighteous descendants of Cain, and the Nephilim the offspring of their union. This view, dating to at least the 1st century AD in Jewish literature as described above, is also found in Christian sources from the 3rd century if not earlier, with references throughout the Clementine literature, as well as in Sextus Julius Africanus, Ephrem the Syrian and others. Holders of this view have looked for support in Jesus’ statement that "in those days before the flood they [humans] were … marrying and giving in marriage" (Matthew 24:38).
Some individuals and groups, including St. Augustine, John Chrysostom, and John Calvin, take the view of Genesis 6:2 that the "Angels" who fathered the Nephilim referred to certain human males from the lineage of Seth, who were called sons of God probably in reference to their prior covenant with Yahweh (cf. Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5); according to these sources, these men had begun to pursue bodily interests, and so took wives of the daughters of men, e.g., those who were descended from Cain or from any people who did not worship God. This also is the view of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, supported by their own Ge’ez manuscripts and Amharic translation of the Haile Selassie Bible—where the books of 1 Enoch and Jubilees, counted as canonical by this church, differ from western academic editions. The "Sons of Seth view" is also the view presented in a few extra-biblical, yet ancient works, including Clementine literature, the 3rd century Cave of Treasures, and the ca. 6th Century Ge’ez work The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan. In these sources, these offspring of Seth were said to have disobeyed God, by breeding with the Cainites and producing wicked children "who were all unlike", thus angering God into bringing about the Deluge, as in the Conflict: Certain wise men of old wrote concerning them, and say in their [sacred] books that angels came down from heaven and mingled with the daughters of Cain, who bare unto them these giants. But these [wise men] err in what they say. God forbid such a thing, that angels who are spirits, should be found committing sin with human beings. Never, that cannot be. And if such a thing were of the nature of angels, or Satans, that fell, they would not leave one woman on earth, undefiled … But many men say, that angels came down from heaven, and joined themselves to women, and had children by them. This cannot be true. But they were children of Seth, who were of the children of Adam, that dwelt on the mountain, high up, while they preserved their virginity, their innocence and their glory like angels; and were then called ‘angels of God.’ But when they transgressed and mingled with the children of Cain, and begat children, ill-informed men said, that angels had come down from heaven, and mingled with the daughters of men, who bear them giants. In the eastern end collisions occurred slightly later. The North China, South China, and Indochina blocks rifted from Gondwana during the middle Paleozoic and opened the Proto-Tethys Ocean. North China docked with Mongolia and Siberia during the Carboniferous–Permian followed by South China. The Cimmerian blocks then rifted from Gondwana to form the Palaeo-Thethys and Neo-Tethys oceans in the Late Carboniferous and docked with Asia during the Triassic and Jurassic. Western Pangaea began to rift while the eastern end was still being assembled. The formation of Pangaea and its mountains had a tremendous impact on global climate and sea levels, which resulted in glaciations and continent-wide sedimentation. In North America, the base of the Absaroka sequence coincides with the Alleghanian and Ouachita orogenies and are indicative of a large-scale change in the mode of deposition far away from the Pangaean orogenies. Ultimately, these changes contributed to the Permian–Triassic extinction event and left large deposits of hydrocarbons, coal, evaporite, and metals. The break-up of Pangaea began with the Central Atlantic magmatic province (CAMP) between South America, Africa, North America, and Europe. CAMP covered more than seven million square kilometres over a few million years, reached its peak at c. 200 Ma, and coincided with the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. The reformed Gondwanan continent was not precisely the same as that which had existed before Pangaea formed; for example, most of Florida and southern Georgia and Alabama is underlain by rocks that were originally part of Gondwana, but this region stayed attached to North America when the Central Atlantic opened. A large number of terranes were accreted to Eurasia during Gondwana’s existence but the Cambrian or Precambrian origin of many of these terranes remains uncertain. For example, some Palaeozoic terranes and microcontinents that now make up Central Asia, often called the "Kazakh" and "Mongolian terranes", were progressively amalgamated into the continent Kazakhstania in the Late Silurian. Whether these blocks originated on the shores of Gondwana is not known.
In the Early Palaeozoic the Armorican terrane, which today form large parts of France, was part of either Peri-Gondwana or core Gondwana; the Rheic Ocean closed in front of it and the Palaeo-Tethys Ocean opened behind it. Precambrian rocks from the Iberian Peninsula suggest it too probably formed part of core Gondwana before its detachment as an orocline in the Variscan orogeny close to the Carboniferous–Permian boundary.
From Turkey to north-eastern India: the Taurides in southern Turkey; the Lesser Caucasus Terrane in Georgia; the Sanand, Alborz, and Lut terranes in Iran; the Mangysglak or Kopetdag Terrane in the Caspian Sea; the Afghan Terrane; the Karakorum Terrane in northern Pakistan; and the Lhasa and Qiangtang terranes in Tibet. The Permian–Triassic widening of the Neo-Tethys pushed all these terranes across the Equator and over to Eurasia. Antarctica, the centre of the supercontinent, shared boundaries with all other Gondwana continents and the fragmentation of Gondwana propagated clockwise around it. The break-up was the result of one of the Earth’s most extensive large igneous provinces c. 200 to 170 Ma, but the oldest magnetic anomalies between South America, Africa, and Antarctica are found in what is now the southern Weddell Sea where initial break-up occurred during the Jurassic c. 160 to 180 Ma. The first ocean floor formed between Madagascar and Africa c. 150 Ma (left) and between India and Madagscar c. 70 Ma (right). Gondwana began to break up in the early Jurassic following the extensive and fast emplacement of the Karoo-Ferrar flood basalts c. 184 Ma. Before the Karoo plume initiated rifting between Africa and Antarctica, it separated a series of smaller continental blocks from Gondwana’s southern, Proto-Pacific margin (along what is now the Transantarctic Mountains): the Antarctic Peninsula, Marie Byrd Land, Zealandia, and Thurston Island; the Falkland Islands and Ellsworth–Whitmore Mountains (in Antarctica) were rotated 90° in opposite directions; and South America south of the Gastre Fault (often referred to as Patagonia) was pushed westward. The history of the Africa-Antarctica break-up can be studied in great detail in the fracture zones and magnetic anomalies flanking the Southwest Indian Ridge.
The first ocean floor formed between India and Antarctica c. 120 Ma (left). The Kerguelen LIP began to form the Ninety East ridge c. 80 Ma (centre). The Indian and Australian plates merged c. 40 Ma (right). East Gondwana, comprising Antarctica, Madagascar, India, and Australia, began to separate from Africa. East Gondwana then began to break up c. 132.5 to 96 Ma when India moved northwest from Australia-Antarctica. The Indian Plate and the Australian Plate are now separated by the Capricorn Plate and its diffuse boundaries. During the opening of the Indian Ocean, the Kerguelen hotspot first formed the Kerguelen Plateau on the Antarctic Plate c. 118 to 95 Ma and then the Ninety East Ridge on the Indian Plate at c. 100 Ma. The Kerguelen Plateau and the Broken Ridge, the southern end of the Ninety East Ridge, are now separated by the Southeast Indian Ridge.
Separation between Australia and East Antarctica began c. 132 Ma with sea-floor spreading occurring c. 96 Ma. A shallow seaway developed over the South Tasman Rise during the Early Cenozoic and as oceanic crust started to separate the continents during the Eocene c. 35.5 Ma global ocean temperature dropped significantly. A dramatic shift from arc- to rift magmatism c. 100 Ma separated Zealandia, including New Zealand, the Campbell Plateau, Chatham Rise, Lord Howe Rise, Norfolk Ridge, and New Caledonia, from West Antarctica c. 84 Ma.Significantly, Eve can in the same scene first speak words of theological error that help propel her to her fatal encounter with Satan and then, a bit later, be described by Milton’s narrator as having “faith sincere,” even as Eve’s theological purity appears to have slipped. Moreover, Milton’s narrator explicitly stresses well into her subsequent temptation that Eve is “yet sinless” (99.659). And Milton takes pains not to depict Eve’s unwise decision to depart from Adam as defiance. Rather, the confused and insecure Adam, having warned Eve of Satan’s dangerous presence, actually urges Eve to “Go” in her “native innocence” and “relie” on her own “vertue” (9.373–74). Milton’s narrator describes Eve as “yet submiss” as she departs, telling Adam that she leaves “With thy permission” (99.377–78).
At c. 126 Ma (left) the Falkland Plateau began to slide past southern Africa and the Paraná-Etendeka LIP had opened the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. At c. 83 Ma (right) the South Atlantic was fully opened and the Romanche Fracture Zone was forming near the Equator. The opening of the South Atlantic Ocean divided West Gondwana (South America and Africa), but there is a considerable debate over the exact timing of this break-up. Rifting propagated from south to north along Triassic–Early Jurassic lineaments, but intra-continental rifts also began to develop within both continents in Jurassic–Cretaceous sedimentary basins; subdividing each continent into three sub-plates. Rifting began c. 190 Ma at Falkland latitudes, forcing Patagonia to move relative to the still static remainder of South America and Africa, and this westward movement lasted until the Early Cretaceous 126.7 Ma. From there rifting propagated northward during the Late Jurassic c. 150 Ma or Early Cretaceous c. 140 Ma most likely forcing dextral movements between sub-plates on either side. South of the Walvis Ridge and Rio Grande Rise the Paraná and Etendeka magmatics resulted in further ocean-floor spreading c. 130 to 135 Ma and the development of rifts systems on both continents, including the Central African Rift System and the Central African Shear Zone which lasted until c. 85 Ma. At Brazilian latitudes spreading is more difficult to assess because of the lack of palaeo-magnetic data, but rifting occurred in Nigeria at the Benue Trough c. 118 Ma. North of the Equator the rifting began after 120.4 Ma and continued until c. 100 to 96 Ma.
In the Early Cenozoic Australia was still connected to Antarctica c. 35–40° south of its current location and both continents were largely unglaciated. A rift between the two developed but remained an embayment until the Eocene-Oligocene boundary when the Circumpolar Current developed and the glaciation of Antarctica began.
Australia was warm and wet during the Palaeocene and dominated by rainforest. The opening of the Tasman Gateway at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary (33 Ma) resulted in abrupt cooling but the Oligocene became a period of high rainfall with swamps in southeast Australia.
The Tasman Gateway between Australia and Antarctica began to open c. 40 to 30 Ma. Palaeontological evidences indicate the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) was established in the Late Oligocene c. 23 Ma with the full opening of the Drake Passage and the deepening of the Tasman Gateway. The oldest oceanic crust in the Drake Passage, however, is 34 to 29 Ma-old which indicates spreading between the Antarctic and South American plates began near the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. Deep sea environments in Tierra del Fuego and the North Scotia Ridge during the Eocene and Oligocene indicate a "Proto-ACC" opened opened during this period. Later, 26 to 14 Ma, a series of events severally restricted the Proto-ACC: change to shallow marine conditions along the North Scotia Ridge; closure of the Fuegan Seaway, the deep sea that existed in Tierra del Fuego; and uplift of the Patagonian Cordillera. This, together with the reactivated Iceland plume, contributed to global warming. During the Miocene, the Drake Passage began to widen and as water flow between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula increased, the renewed ACC resulted in cooler global climate.
Since the Eocene the northward movement of the Australian Plate has resulted in an arc-continent collision with the Philippine and Caroline plates and the uplift of the New Guinea Highlands. From the Oligocene to the late Miocene, the climate in Australia, dominated by warm and humid rainforests before this collision, began to alternate between open forest and rainforest before the continent became the arid or semiarid landscape it is today. The closure of the Rheic Ocean and the formation of Pangaea in the Carboniferous resulted in the rerouting of ocean currents which initiated an Ice House period. As Gondwana began to rotate clockwise, Australia shifted south to more temperate latitudes. An ice cap initially covered most of southern Africa and South America but began to spread to eventually cover most of the supercontinent, save for northern-most Africa-South America and eastern Australia. Giant lycopod and horsetail forests continued to evolve in tropical Laurasia together with a diversified assemblage of true insects. In Gondwana, in contrast, ice and, in Australia, volcanism decimated the Devonian flora to a low-diversity seed fern flora – the pteridophytes were increasingly replaced by the gymnosperms which were to dominate until the Mid-Cretaceous. Australia, however, was still located near the Equator during the Early Carboniferous and during this period temnospondyl and lepospondyl amphibians and the first amniote reptilians evolved, all closely related to the Laurasian fauna, but spreading ice eventually drove these animals away from Gondwana entirely.
During the Mid- to Late Triassic Hot House condition coincided with a peak in biodiversity — the end-Permian extinction was huge and so was the radiation that followed. Two families of conifers, Podocarpaceae and Araucariaceae, dominated Gondwana in the Early Triassic, but Dicroidium, an extinct genus of fork-leaved seed ferns, dominated woodlands and forests of Gondwana during most of the Triassic. Conifers evolved and radiated during the period with six of eight extant families already present before the end of it. Bennettitales and Pentoxylales, two now extinct orders of gymnospermous plants, evolved in the Late Triassic and became important in the Jurassic and Cretaceous. It is possible that gymnosperm biodiversity surpassed later angiosperm biodiversity and that the evolution of angiosperms began during the Triassic but, if so, in Laurasia rather than in Gondwana. Two Gondwanan classes, lycophytes and sphenophytes, saw a gradual decline during the Triassic while ferns, though never dominant, managed to diversify.Nonetheless, Eve continues to listen to Satan’s relentless appeals. As Stanley Fish (2015) has recently argued, “even before she hears Satan’s argument,” Eve should ask, “What part of ‘Ye shall not eat’ (PL 9.662) don’t you understand”? (“Milton” 7). But failing to do so, she is quickly overwhelmed by Satan’s subsequent impassioned speech, a speech that derides God’s injustice, extols the Tree’s wondrous power, and implores Eve—whom Satan calls “Queen of this Universe” (684)—of her need to eat the Tree’s fruit (679–732). The serpent’s rhetorical power—grounded in his insincere claim that his ability to speak came from the fruit, of which he says he ate without dying—combined with Eve’s physical hunger and the assault on her senses caused by the beautiful, delicious-smelling fruit, conspire against her previous adherence to God’s command.
The Cretaceous saw the arrival of the angiosperms, or flowering plants, a group that probably evolved in western Gondwana (South America-Africa). From there the angiosperms diversified in two stages: the monocots and magnoliids evolved in the Early Cretaceous followed by the hammamelid dicots. By the Mid-Cretaceous angiosperms constituted half of the flora in northeastern Australia. There is, however, no obvious connection between this spectacular angiosperm radiation and an extinction event nor vertebrate/insect evolution. Insect orders associated with pollination, such as beetles, flies, butterflies and moths, and wasps, bees, and ants, radiated continuously from the Permian-Triassic long before the arrival of the angiosperms. Well-preserved insect fossils have been found in the lake deposits of the Santana Formation in Brazil, the Koonwarra Lake fauna in Australia, and the Orapa diamond mine in Botswana. Dinosaurs continued to prosper but, as the angiosperm diversified, conifers, bennettitaleans and pentoxylaleans disappeared from Gondwana c. 115 Ma together with the specialised herbivorous ornithischians whilst generalist browsers such as several families of sauropodomorph Saurischia prevailed. The Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event killed off all dinosaurs except birds, but plant evolution in Gondwana was hardly affected by the event. Gondwanatheria is an extinct group of non-therian mammals with a Gondwanan distribution (South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, and Antarctica) during the Late Cretaceous and Palaeogene. Xenarthra and Afrotheria, two placental clades, are of Gondwanan origin and probably began to evolve separately c. 105 Ma when Africa and South America separated.
The classic treatments of sincerity in the second half of the twentieth century have not emphasized the word’s older theological meaning. Although both Patricia M. Ball (1964) and Lionel Trilling (1972) note, in Ball’s words, that earlier “implications of sincerity were predominantly religious,” with the word being “used to affirm purity of belief, genuine doctrine, freedom from theological duplicity” (1), both Ball and Trilling stress that the effects of Romanticism and subsequent cultural movements brought the word to mean, as it still does in common parlance, “a congruence between avowal and actual feeling” (Trilling 2).1 As we investigate matters of sincerity in John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667, second edition 1674), we must recognize that for the pre-Romantic Milton, sincerity is foremost a theological concern, and thus, that “feeling,” per se, is not a proper measure of a person’s sincerity; for, as events in Paradise Lost reveal, feelings can fluctuate wildly in the human heart and, if followed, lead characters to disobey God and fall into sin. Milton most certainly recognizes and emphasizes, however, a connection between theological purity and the unfeigned honesty of the individual in question. This connection is evident when Milton’s God the Father, speaking to his Son concerning why human and angelic wills must be free, asks, “Not free, what proof could they have givn sincere / Of true allegiance, constant Faith or Love” (3.103–04)?2 The individual angel or human must make the sincere choice to obey faithfully the true God on his terms, and that character cannot offer the Romantic argument that he or she chose disobedience through “sincere” feelings and actions of dissen…neither Satan’s, Eve’s, nor Adam’s decisions to transgress can be considered “sincere” in terms of either the pre-Romantic understanding of sincerity as theological purity or the largely romantic understanding of sincerity as unfeigned honesty. Rather, each character’s respective fall betrays both impious and self-serving motivations that undercut claims to sincerity proffered by either the characters themselves or their critical defenders.
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