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Title: 'First the original' : the place of Adam in seventeenth century theories of the polity
Author: Ipgrave, Julia D.
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis investigates selected seventeenth century writings from England and New England to explore the varying significances afforded to the Biblical figure of Adam in theories of the polity. It notes the strong impulse in this period of political upheaval to find foundations and patterns for the polity by returning to the original of Adam’s existence in the Garden of Eden as recorded in Genesis and reinterpreted in Christian tradition. An overview of the times and their political and religious order identifies contemporary preoccupations – legitimacy of sovereignty, security of person and property, freedom of religious conscience, direction of history, expansion to new parts of the world and encounters with new people – that coloured interpretations and political applications of Adam. Against this background, the thesis presents contemporary conversations in which interpretations of Adam played a significant part, proposing a categorisation of Adam as state (the pattern and condition of man and polity) and Adam as story (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration). Under the general heading of Adam as State the conversations include discussions about patriarchalism, natural law and rights, covenant and conscience; under Adam as Story they are concerned with millennial expectation, mystical discourses of the inner man, and the incorporation of the American Indian into a shared narrative that begins in Eden. These themes are developed in detailed studies of selected works by individual authors; Roger Williams, John Eliot, Gerrard Winstanley, John Milton and John Locke. In these works varied approaches are observed as the authors interrogate, expand or contract the story and traditions of Adam in their interpretations of its significance to their times and nation; in particular distinctions are made between theories that use man’s natural state or fallen condition as the foundation of the polity, and those that give eschatological significance to the actions of men, to events and political change. The diversity of methods and theories that result demonstrates the creativity and wide ranging possibility of Adamic political thought at this time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available