An Edenic Primer
Chapter 1 explores the development of edenic thought in England during the century and a half between Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the New World and John Winthrop’s arrival in Massachusetts Bay. The chapter outlines Eden’s association with primitivism and the beginning of sacred time as well as the millennium and an anticipated apocalypse at the end of sacred time. Most important, the chapter defines Eden by reviewing distinctions between the biblical paradise and other models for an ideal society, including pastoral arcadias and utopias. Seventeenth-century exegetes described the Eden of Adam and Eve as a threefold paradise consisting of: first, an abundant, peaceful garden; second, incorrupt, temperate physiologies; and third, a series of internal perfections made manifest in the encyclopedic wisdom, denotative language, innocent souls, and harmonious sociality of the couple. Each subsequent chapter describes colonists’ attempts to recreate one of these edenic attributes.
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