essays and reviews darwin

essays and reviews darwin

Essays and reviews darwin
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 “The Seven Against Christ.“ 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 heart of the book is Benjamin Jowett’s piece “On the Interpretation of Scripture.” Jowett, later master of Balliol College, Oxford, argued that the Bible ought to be read like any other book–in other words, our aim ought to be to recover the authors’ original meaning within their own context and not to expect that Genesis will accord with Newtonian astronomy. His suggestion that New Testament writers had changed the meaning of passages from the Psalms that appear in the Epistles radically implied that divine inspiration had nothing to do with their creative process. He added that Christians ought no longer to ignore the work of the nineteenth-century critics, but to welcome it. The “higher” critics, mostly Germans, had sought to confirm the events narrated in the Bible from independent sources–which implies, obviously, that the Bible’s accuracy can be doubted. All this had been said before, by those outside the Church; but these essayists were making the same arguments from inside the Church.

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INTERPRETATION (reference to Jowett and Essays and Reviews) –

ASCII text of the 1860 publication: “Essays and Reviews” based on the scanned JPG images (OCR’ing still in progress – due to careful handling of the book resulting in a varying grey background)

Essays and reviews darwin
Gilley, Sheridan. “The Huxley-Wilberforce Debate: A Reconsideration.” Religion and Humanism. Ed. Keith Robbins. Oxford: Blackwell, 1981. 325-40. Print.
Although the traditional account of the Huxley-Wilberforce encounter has long been discredited by historians, understanding the contexts in play that day, and how that traditional account acquired the aura of truth, has much to teach us about science, religion, and Victorian culture.

Essays and Reviews was an immediate sensation when it came out in 1860. It was a collection of essays by seven ‘liberal’ Anglicans, six of them clergymen, who were vilified by their opponents as ‘Septem Contra Christum’ (Seven Against Christ). Essays and Reviews was associated in the public mind with Darwin’s Origin of Species which had come out the year before: this is how Samuel Butler sees it in The Way of All Flesh (1903):
It must be remembered that the year 1858 was the last of a term during which the peace of the Church of England was singularly unbroken … I need hardly say that the calm was only on the surface … the wave of scepticism which had broken over Germany was setting towards our own shores, nor was it long, indeed, before it reached them … three works in succession arrested the attention even of those who paid least heed to theological controversy. I mean Essays and Reviews , Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species , and Bishop Colenso’s Criticisms on the Pentateuch . (Ch. 47)