On Death, On Abortion, On Gender

Kellett, Edward. Miscellanies of divinitie Divided into three books, Wherein is explained at large the estate of the Soul in her origination, separation, particular judgement, and conduct to eternal blisse or torment. By Edvvard Kellet Doctour in Divinitie, and one of the Canons of the Cathedrall Church of Exon.

❧ [Cambridge]: Printed by the Printers to the Vniversitie of Cambridge, and are to be sold by Robert Allot, at the Beare in Pauls-Church-yard, 1635. In English. 294 × 188 mm (11.6 × 7.4 in.). Folio. [24], 197; [3], 237, [11] pp. Final leaf is blank. Printer’s device on the title page. Index. Errata page. A few marginal annotations and instances of underscoring, all far and few between. Early ink inscription on front pastedown: W[illiam] Maskell.” Pagination starts over in book two, but is continuous through book three. Good. Bound in full contemporary calf, rubbed and edge worn. Joints split; front board detached, but cords holding. Trace of spine old spine label which has since been lost. Pages toned.

An eschatological treatise by Anglican theologian and deacon Edward Kellett (d. 1641). The text is divided into three books and offers a series of meditations on the necessity of death. In the first book, the author identifies the cause of death in original sin and engages in extended critiques with numerous theologians such as Aquinas and Duns Scotus. In the second book, Kellet addresses instances where someone has died and been brought back to life and engages in various critiques of Spanish theologians, like Juan de Pineda. In the third book, the shortest, Kellet examines sources on whether or not every person is fated to die. Each chapter concludes with a brief prayer that summarizes major themes. Throughout, Kellet makes numerous references to classical thinkers and contemporary theologians and sources, a full list of which are included in the preliminaries and citations are printed in the margins.

The first entry in the index is for references to abortion. Kellet’s inquiry into original sin draws him into a prolonged discussion of pregnancy, fetuses, abortion, topics that make up the bulk of book 1, chapter 6. Citing the latest medical and Biblical authorities available to himJean Fornel and the King James Bible, respectivelyKellet asserts that abortion is a curse” (book 1, page 103). However, Kellet defines abortion as occurring only after body and soul have united, which is also the moment at which original sin arises. “[O]ur flesh is not properly sinfull or defiled before the soul inhabit it,” something which, Kellet argues, does not happen immediately. He describes embryos” in an early stage of conception as lump[s] of flesh, which only lived the life of a plant, at the utmost the life of a brute creature,” in other words not fully human. Kellet further points out as fallacy the belief that these embryos can be judged and condemned to hell or admitted to heaven.

The subject of original sin also leads Kellet into several discussions of gender. For example, in arguing that not all sins are equally sinful, Kellet argues that Adam was the greater sinner on the grounds that he was convinced by a simple Woman” unlike Eve who was deceived by a supernatural evil. In a later chapter, Kellet makes strong arguments against non-conformism, writing, The Devil brought not a more dangerous Paradox … then this, That every one, illiterate man or woman, at their pleasure may judge of Scripture” (page 149). He saves his harshest criticism for female non-conformists. He first speaks derisively of an encounter with an Anabaptist woman and follows up by ridiculing a tract authored by an Anabaptist woman, whose contents (a series of anagrams) he partially reproduces to highlight their absurdity. Kellet presents female non-conformists and their interpretations of scripture as disorder and rebellion, associating them even with Thomas Muntzer, the German theologian who led a peasant revolt against central European aristocracy from 15245.

This book appeared in the midst of Laudianism, a religious movement that sought to reject Calvinist doctrine (especially predestination) and standardize rituals within the Church of England. Dissenters believed that these reforms made Protestantism too much resemble the Catholic Church. The changes were championed by William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom this book is dedicated. Tensions within English Protestantism between Laudianists and non-comformists contributed to the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642.

This copy with the autograph of William Maskell on the front pastedown. Maskell was a religious scholar, antiquarian, and a priest in the Church of England who later converted to Catholicism. His large collection of books and antiquities was housed in a private chapel and parts were donated to the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum.

Oclc notes one location in the United States, at the University of Michigan, but we note 4 more at the University of Illinois, Yale, Folger, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Scarce in the trade, with only four copies appearing at auction since 1910, per Rare Book Hub.

English short title catalogue S106557.


In stock

Stock Code: 1442B17 Collection: Catalogue:


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