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Juana Inés de la Cruz and the Theology of Beauty

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posted on 2024-05-20, 23:39 authored by George H. Tavard

With Juana Inés de la Cruz and the Theology of Beauty, George H. Tavard presents the first thorough investigation of the theology of the greatest Latin American poet before our own time. HIs program is all the more important because she was the first woman of this continent to assert the right of women to study to the full extent of their capacities. An intelligent and intellectual woman, Juana Inés was eager to live a life of scholarship and felt "a great aversion to matrimony," which directed her to enter the convent in 1667. Tavard provides a thought-provoking analysis both of the theological ideas that Juana Inés expressed in poetry and prose and of the conclusions, provisional or definitive, she may have reached about herself and about humanity.

Through a close study of many of her clearly authenticated works—her didactic poem, Primero Sueño (First Dream); her poems in honor of the saints; her religious drama; her poems in honor of Christ and the Virgin; her lyric verse on devotional themes; and her prose writings on religious topics--Tavard draws out Sor Juana’s conception of the world and the soul, her ideas about the saints, her understanding of the Virgin, and her Christology. He offers a coherent theological and spiritual argument for Juana’s renunciation of further writing in 1692. In discussing the shape of her theological imagination, Tavard concludes that for Juana, “the physical and spiritual beauty of creatures, a gift of God’s love, acts as a theopany” through which divine glory is perceived.


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