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Visions of SodomReligion, Homoerotic Desire, and the End of the World in England, c. 1550-1850$
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H. G. Cocks

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226438665

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226438832.001.0001

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The End of the World

The End of the World

(p.73) Chapter Three The End of the World
Visions of Sodom

H. G. Cocks

University of Chicago Press

Sodom's destruction was a type (or foreshadowing) of the end of the world. It was a theological commonplace that the world would end in a universal fire similar to that which had destroyed the Cities of the Plain. Future punishments such as this were intimately linked to morality in the seventeenth century. Theologians and reformers of manners argued that the best way to enforce morality was to think of divine rewards and punishments, not least the pains inflicted on Sodom and Gomorrah. Moralists were not the only ones interested in how the world would end though, as this preoccupation also informed natural philosophy. Several writers, not least Thomas Burnet, participated in a wave of cosmography, putting forward new naturalistic theories that aimed to explain the earth's geomorphology, the Noahic Flood, and the end of time. These speculations were often modeled on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and water. These theories and ideas showed the intimate connection in the late-seventeenth century between the Sodom story and the enforcement of morality.

Keywords:   apocalypse, reformation of manners, morality, natural philosophy

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