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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 360-480. GOD THE SON BECOMES MAN

The story of Christ's birth is told in lines 360-371. You might also want to read Milton's earlier poem, "Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity," which is a wonderful musical celebration of the virgin birth.

The news brings great joy to Adam, who is able at last to see something good coming from the "seed" of Eve. At last, he thinks, his descendants will bruise the serpent's head.

NOTE: THE DOCTRINE OF THE "FELIX CULPA," THE "HAPPY FAULT"

In Christian doctrine, Adam's sin is looked on not only as the origin of all pain, death, and sin in the world, but also-paradoxically-as the source of all our joy. Because Adam sinned, God sent his Son down to become the man Jesus Christ and save the world. If Adam had not sinned, there would be no savior. So his was a "happy fault," "felix culpa" in Latin, sometimes also translated as the "fortunate fall."



The crucifixion and death of Christ fulfill the prophesy that Eve's seed shall bruise the heel of Satan. Man's sins are atoned for. Christ will return to Heaven after his resurrection-when he defeats Death-and there will wait until his Second Coming. Then he will return to judge the entire world, and man will join the angels in Heaven.

The news of this eventual reconciliation with God causes Adam to break out in a hymn of praise to God. He wonders whether he should repent of his sin or rejoice that the "felix culpa" will bring about such a triumphant ending for mankind.

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