The seventeenth-century poet and divine Thomas Traherne finds innocence in every stage of existence. He finds it in the chaos at the origins of creation as well as in the blessed order of Eden. He finds it in the activities of grace and the hope of glory, but also in the trials of misery and even in the abyss of the Fall. Boundless Innocence in Thomas Traherne’s Poetic Theology traces innocence through Traherne’s works as it transgresses the boundaries of the estates of the soul. Using grammatical and literary categories it explores various aspects of his poetic theology of innocence, uncovering the boundless desire which is embodied in the yearning cry: ’Were all Men Wise and Innocent...’ Recovering and reinterpreting a key but increasingly neglected theme in Traherne’s poetic theology, this book addresses fundamental misconceptions of the meaning of innocence in his work. Through a contextual and theological approach, it indicates the unexplored richness, complexity and diversity of this theme in the history of literature and theology.
Elizabeth S. Dodd is Director of Studies for Ministry Programmes at Sarum College, Salisbury, and teaches in the areas of doctrine, spirituality, church history, literature and theology and theological aesthetics. She has been an academic tutor for ministry training through STETS and Sarum College since 2012, after completing her doctorate on Thomas Traherne at Cambridge University, supervised by Professor David Ford. She teaches on Thomas Traherne for the general public and has published on his work, including a forthcoming essay collection on Thomas Traherne and Seventeenth Century Thought with Cassandra Gorman, for D.S. Brewer. Her main research interests are in literature and theology, particularly seventeenth-century metaphysical poetry and the theme of innocence in Christian literature. She also has an interest in theological aesthetics, in particular the uses of genre theory and the public role of the lyric voice in theology.
’In this impressive study of Traherne's engagement with innocence, Dodd re-claims and re-assesses one of Traherne's most important theological, aesthetic, and philosophical ideas. Simply stated, this book is necessary.’ Jacob Blevins, McNeese State University, USA