1702 Edition of The Sacred Theory Of Earth

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Telluris Theoria Sacra

Authored by T. Burnetto (Thomas Burnett)

Published by Benjamin Took in 1702 

Extremely rare 1702 edition of Burnetto's famous volume,  Telluris Theoria Sacra or The Sacred Theory of Earth.

The Telluris Theoria Sacra is widely considered to be the most popular of geologic work in the 17th century.

This volume contains 356 pages across all four parts and numerous illustrations.

Among the illustrations are two fantastic folding maps of the Earth.

The first part of the Sacred Theory of the Earth was published in 1681 in Latin, and in 1684 in English translation; the second part appeared in 1689 (1690 in English). 

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. Newton even wrote to Burnet, suggesting the possibility that when God created the Earth, the days were longer. However, Burnet did not find this explanation scientific enough. Lengthening the days would require an intervention on God's part. Burnet tightly held the belief that God created the world and all its processes perfectly from the start.

Condition Report

Covers worn and spine showing damage in places. Good inside, but with flaws including water stains on numerous pages. Illustrations not effected. Missing two pages from end of dedication but otherwise complete. Front hinge weakening with wear and damage to title page rear as photographed (with Lord Northbrook’s bookplate). 356 pages.Considered to be in a good condition.