1690 The (Sacred) Theory of the Earth, The Two Last Books, Brunet. First English language edition. Also a second work, A Review


1st English edition of the last two books of Burnet's Sacred Theory of the Earth. Also includes A Review of the Theory of the Earth, with its own pagination and collation.

Burnet's best known work is his Telluris Theoria Sacra, or Sacred Theory of the Earth. The first part was published in 1681 in Latin, and in 1684 in English translation; the second part appeared in 1689, and in 1690 in English translation (this edition being offered). It was a speculative cosmogony, in which Burnet suggested a hollow earth with most of the water inside until Noah's Flood, at which time mountains and oceans appeared. He calculated the amount of water on Earth's surface, stating there was not enough to account for the Flood. Burnet was to some extent influenced by Descartes who had written on the creation of the earth in Principia philosophiae (1644), and was criticised on those grounds by Roger North. The heterodox views of Isaac La Peyrère included the idea that the Flood was not universal; Burnet's theory was at least in part intended to answer him on that point.

Burnet's system had its novel features, as well as those such as the four classical elements that were very traditional: an initially ovoid Earth, a Paradise before the Flood that was always in the spring season, and rivers flowing from the poles to the Equator. Herbert Croft published criticism of the book in 1685, in particular accusing Burnet of following the Second Epistle of Peter rather than the Book of Genesis. During the 1690s John Beaumont and Johann Caspar Eisenschmidt picked up on Burnet's ideas. They engendered a great deal of controversy at the time, and Burnet defended himself against selected critics, John Keill and Erasmus Warren. Isaac Newton was an admirer of Burnet's theological approach to geological processes.

Bibliographic Details -

The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) lists the first work as 006141983. Not rare, many of the world's best libraries have a copy.

The Review... (second work) is ESTC catalogue number 006104683.

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 32.5 x 20 x 2.5 cm. Folio signed in four. Remnants of a leather binding. Frontis illustration. One inline illustration. Three title pages. Some initials, etc.

Pages first work - xvi, 224

Collation first work - (no signature)4, a4, B-Ff4

Pages second work - (ii), 52, 1 - ad, 1 - blank

Collation second work - A to G4

Condition -

See pictures. Binding barely holding it together, needs a new binding. Ex-libris inscription on pastedown, appears to be "Thomas Boys Croome, a 19th century preacher. Text block toned throughout, with occasional foxing spots. a3 with a few spots like candle grease touched it. Several pages with small chip out of fore-edge. Occasional thumb mark. Occasional candle ember hole. C1, page 15 of second work has a dusty crease line at bottom corner. Moisture mark at gutter of last five leaves.

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