essays and reviews 1860 summary
Left: Dean Liddell . Middle: Frederick Templet . Right: Benjamin Jowett . All three courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London. [Click on images to enlarge them and for more information about them.]
Essays and Reviews , published in 1860, is a collection of seven essays on religion, covering such topics as the Biblical researches of the German critics, the evidences of Christianity, religious thought in England, and the cosmology of Genesis. Today they seem innocuous enough; we are surprised to learn that the book was considered shocking and that the essayists were called вЂњThe Seven Against Christ.вЂњ The book was important solely because of its date and its authors, seven liberal Anglican churchmen. Appearing and one year after Darwin’s Origin of Species , it summed up a three-quarter-century-long challenge to Biblical history by the Higher Critics and to Biblical prehistory by scientists working in the new fields of geology and biology.
The aftermath of Essays and Reviews is a famous story (well told by Owen Chadwick in his The Victorian Church , 1972, vol. II, pp. 75–90) of muddled persecution. All that it made clear was that biblical criticism was neither a safe nor an honoured pursuit for clergymen. But before the book came out its contributors were known and suspect to the orthodox. Publication exposed them as a target.
Jowett had been in hot water five years before. In his commentary on Romans he had included an essay on the doctrine of atonement. He attacked the version of it, as morally objectionable as it was fraught with psychological melodrama, in which Christ’s death was seen as a substitutionary propitiation of God’s anger against sinful humanity. He was denounced to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford and summoned to his study to re-subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles. It was a ludicrous episode. But the indignity of it hurt him – as a Christian believer and as an eminent don who had just missed the Mastership of his college, Balliol. Also, his appointment as Professor of Greek in the preceding year (1854) had set off a tangled and humiliating train of events. Pusey, mingling decency with vindictiveness, attempted to get Jowett paid a proper salary so long as this could be dissociated from any apparent endorsement by the authorities of Jowett’s views. That conundrum was not solved until 1865.
Although many historians and literary critics have identified Essays and Reviews as a pivotal text of high Victorianism, until now it has been almost inaccessible to modern readers. This first critical edition, edited by Victor Shea and William Whitla, provides extensive annotation to map the various positions on the controversies that the book provoked. The editors place the volume in its complex social context and supply commentary, background materials, composition and publishing history, textual notes, and a broad range of new supporting documents, including material from the trials, manifestos, satires, and contemporary illustrations.
Essays and Reviews is a collection of seven articles that appeared in 1860, sparking a Victorian culture war that lasted for at least a decade. With pieces written by such prominent Oxford and Cambridge intellectuals as Benjamin Jowett, Mark Pattison, Baden Powell, and Frederick Temple (later archbishop of Canterbury), the volume engaged the relations between religious faith and current topics of the day in education, the classics, theology, science, history, literature, biblical studies, hermeneutics, philology, politics, and philosophy. Upon publication, the church, the university, the press, the government, and the courts, both ecclesiastical and secular, joined in an intense dispute. The book signaled an intellectual and religious crisis, raised influential issues of free speech, and questioned the authority and control of the Anglican Church in Victorian society. The collection became a best-seller and led to three sensational heresy trials.
- Mark Pattison: An Intellectual Biography
“My other current project is an intellectual biography of Mark Pattison, the nineteenth-century scholar and Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford. He is best known as a contributor to Essays and Reviews, as a highly distinctive contributor to the mid-Victorian debate on the purpose of universities, and as the author of a famous posthumous volume of Memoirs. But I want to explore his general intellectual significance, which no-one has hitherto investigated. I am currently seeking British Academy funding for this.”
Chapter 1: “The Impact of Darwin on Conventional Thought” by Robert M. Young –
[Enclosure 1] 13 Asa Gray for M r . Darwin Statement of the Sale of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” to May 1st, 18 60 On hand last account, — On hand this date, 250 Printed since Jany/60 1500 In hands of Booksellers, 300 550 Feby—/60 500 Given away, 200 Mch/60 500 Sold to date, 1750 2500 2500 1750 Sold , at 5% on $ 1.25 Copyright amounting to $ 109.37
Most deeply do I feel your generous kindness & interest.—