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Durham University

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Publication details for Prof John O'Brien

O'Brien, John (2014). In Praise of the Theologie naturelle. The Review of English Studies 65(269): 236-251.

Author(s) from Durham


This article deals with a hitherto unknown and unpublished English poem on the Theologie Naturelle of the Catalan theologian, Raymond Sebond or Sabunde. The manuscript is contained in a copy of the French translation by Michel de Montaigne held in Middle Temple Library. It is shown that the poem dates from the mid-seventeenth century and asserts the compatibility of faith and reason, while subordinating the latter to the former. The formal properties of the poem are investigated, including the thematic material it draws on from Sebond’s own preface to his work and its echoes and parallels with the work of Du Bartas. Sebond’s place in seventeenth-century English theological writing is outlined and it is argued that the anonymous author of this original poem espouses a particular view of the relationship between theology and philosophy, foreshadowing the rise of the Royal Society, with which Middle Templars were prominently associated.