With "Juana Ines de la Cruz and the Theology of Beauty" George H.Tavard presents an investigation of the theology of this Latin American poet. His programme is 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 Ines 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 an analysis both of the theological ideas that Juana Ines 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 Sueno (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; her prose writings on religious topics - Tavard draws out Sor Junan'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; speculation is rife on the topic of Juana's entry into silence at the height of her career. 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.