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The 1860 publication: "Essays and Reviews"

by (Church of England theologians) Frederick Temple, Rowland Williams, Baden Powell, Henry Bristow Wilson, C. W. Goodwin, Mark Pattison and Benjamin Jowett

1860 Essays and Reviews Homepage is at

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[Back to1860 publication: "Essays and Reviews" Main Page]
[Background as stated in A.D. White's 1895, "The Warfare Of Science With Theology"]
[Extracts about the book from other sources.]
[ASCII text of "Essays and Reviews"]
[Text of "Essays and Reviews" as Scanned JPGs from the original 1860 Publication]

With extracts of various commentries on the history and controversy over the book, including that of A.D. White's (co-founder of Cornell University) 1895, "The Warfare Of Science With Theology"

"It is something over a quarter of a century since I labored with Ezra Cornell in founding the university which bears his honored name."

Buy "Essays and Reviews" (with annotations, background and commentary by Victor Shea and William Whitla) from the University of Virginia Press: "Essays and Reviews: The 1860 Text and Its Reading": Edited by Victor Shea and William Whitla: ISBN 0-8139-1869-3
  • "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.

    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.

    Not only does such an annotated critical edition of Essays and Reviews indicate the impact that the volume had on Victorian society; it also sheds light on our own contemporary cultural institutions and controversies."

The Authors

"Victor Shea and William Whitla teach in the Division of Humanities at York University, Toronto."

  • It is the resulting court cases and decisions resulting from publication of the book that are cited or referred to in many publications; especially those dealing with the history of science. Many of the citations are based on the court case brought against Wilson on his stated opinion that "Hell" was a myth.

    • From "The Ascent of Science" (1998, Oxford University Press) by Brian L. Silver - (ISBN 0-19-511699-2 - Page 284):
      "It is often forgotten that, at the time, not everybody regarded Darwin as the spearhead of the threat to faith. A couple of months after The Origin came out, a collection of articles on religion appeared, entitled Essays and Reviews (1860). Written almost entirely by Anglican clergymen, this adopted a very liberal stance. Miracles were downplayed and reason lauded. The uproar was, if anything, more impassioned than the response to Darwin. The Church was being attacked from within. Unsuccessful attempts were made to have the authors prosecuted for heresy"

    • From A.D. White's 1895, "The Warfare Of Science With Theology":
      "The decision of the court, as finally rendered by the lord chancellor, virtually declared it to be no part of the duty of the tribunal to pronounce any opinion upon the book; that the court only had to do with certain extracts which had been presented. Among these was one adduced in support of a charge against Mr. Wilson--that he denied the doctrine of eternal punishment. On this the court decided that it did "not find in the formularies of the English Church any such distinct declaration upon the subject as to require it to punish the expression of a hope by a clergyman that even the ultimate pardon of the wicked who are condemned in the day of judgment may be consistent with the will of Almighty God." While the archbishops dissented from this judgment, Bishop Tait united in it with the lord chancellor and the lay judges."

      "the cynical remarked that it (the court decision) had "dismissed hell with costs.""

    • From "Why I am not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell - March 6th 1927 (Reprinted 1996: ISBN 0-415-07918-7 - Page 14):

      ..."Belief in eternal hell fire was an essential item of Chrisitian belief until recent times. In this country, as you know, it ceased to be an essential item because of a decision of the Privy Council, and from that decision the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York dissented; but in this country our religion is settled by Act of Parliament, and therefore the Privy council was able to override Their Graces and hell was no longer necessary to a Christian. Consequently I shall not insist that a Christian must believe in hell."

1860 Essays and Reviews and Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" (1859)

There is a glowing reference in the book to the then recently published "The Origin of Species" (1859) by Charles Darwin ("Essays and Reviews" (1860) pages 138 to 139; 'on the Study of the Evidences of Christianity' by Baden Powell, M.A., F.R.S., &c &c; - Savilian Professor of Geometry in the University of Oxford.)

"Just a similar scepticism has been evinced by nearly all the first physiologists of the day, who have joined in rejecting the development theories of Lamarck and the Vestiges; and while they have strenuously maintained successive creations, have denied and denounced the alleged production of organic life by Messrs. Crosse and Weekes, and stoutly maintained the impossibility of spontaneious generation, on the alleged ground of contradiction to experience. Yet it is now acknowledged under the high sanction of the name of Owen (British Association Address 1858), that 'creation' is only another name for our ignorance of the mode of production; and it has been the unanswered and unanswerable argument of another reasoner that new species must have originated either out of their inorganic elements, or out of previously organized forms; either development or spontaneous generation must be true: while a work has now appeared by a naturalist of the most acknowledged authority, Mr. Darwin's masterly volume on The Origin of Species by the law of 'natural selection,' - which now substantiates on undeniable grounds the very principle so long denounced by the first naturalist, - the origination of new species by natural causes: a work which must soon bring about an entire revolution of opinion in favour of the grand principle of the self-evolving powers of nature."

Also refer:

  • From "The Work of Love - Creation as Kenosis" edited by John Polkinghorne, 2001, ISBN 0-8028-4885; SPCK ISBN 0-281-05372-3 -
    • Extract from the Chapter titled: "Kenotic Creation and Divine Action" by John Polkinghorne, page 94

    • "These scientific revaluations have had their impact upon theology. The effects have been by no means without their fruitfulness. Contrary to the popular legend, still sedulously cultivated by polemicists and some sectors of the media, that Darwin met total obscurantist opposition from religious thinkers, there were Christians who, from the first, welcomed his insights and made positive theological use of them. In England, these included Charles Kingsley, Frederick Temple, and Aubrey Moore, and in the United States Darwin's Harvard friend, Asa Grey. A common theme runs through their responses. An evolutionary world is theologically to be understood as a creation allowed by its Creator "to make itself." The play of life is not the performance of a pre-determined script, but a self-improvisatory performance by the actors themselves. Although kenotic language was not explicitely used, this is a manifestly kenotic conception. God shares the unfolding course of creation with creatures, who have their divinely allowed, but not divinely dictated, roles to play in its fruitful becoming.

      This understanding is in striking contrast with the accounts of creation and divine action offered by Classical Theology. From Augustine onwards, and most powerfully in the writings of Thomas Aquinas, it sought to preserve the uniqueness of divine action, and the primacy of divine power, by speaking of God's primary causality, exercised in and under the secondary causalities of creatures. Classical Theology greatly emphasized the transcendence of God and a chracteristic concept was creation ex nihilo, the calling into being of the new at the behest of the divine creative fiat."

  • "Kenosis": a joyous and loving attitude that is willing to give up selfish desires and to make sacrifices on behalf of others for the common good and the glory or God, doing this in a generous and creative way, avoiding the pitfall of pride, and guided and inspired by the love of God and the gift of grace.

  • Chapter 1: "The Impact of Darwin on Conventional Thought" by Robert M. Young -

    • "Anyone wishing to continue to take a simple view of the relations between Victorian scientific naturalism and the establishment, as represented by the Victorian Anglican hierarchy, has many apparent anomalies to explain. Here are two which I never tire of repeating. Essays and Reviews advocated the treatment of the Bible as a historical text and supported naturalism with respect to the history of life. It was a scandal and was prosecuted in the theological courts. One of the notorious essayists in this book, which caused as great a stir as On the Origin of Species, was Frederick Temple. As I've said above, he went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury. The second striking fact is also mentioned in this essay: Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey."

Other sources of Information that mention the book's authors or the proceedings.

  • A Brief Summary of Inspiration and Interpretation by Dean John William Burgon (1813-1888) - at the The Dean Burgon Society - In Defense of Traditional Bible Texts
    • "Dean Burgon has devoted 228 pages to answer the apostasy contained in Essays and Reviews"
    • Who Was Dean John William Burgon? (1813-1888):

    • Anglican Timeline: 1833-1890: The Victorian era -

      • "Essays and Reviews", favorable to science and modernism, published. Rev. Frederick Temple, later Archbishop of Canterbury, discusses the valuable contributions of non-Christian thinkers.

        Rev. H.B. Wilson pleads for tolerance and common sense in doctrinal matters, instead of "godless orthodoxy", so that the church can retain credibility.

        Rev. Rowland Williams reviews the new field of Biblical archaeology.

        Rev. Benjamin Jowett popularizes historical and literary criticism of the Bible.

        Rev. Mark Pattison reviews church history in the last century pointing out "irrational" elements.

        Rev. Baden Powell popularizes new understandings about the earth's real history.

        C.W. Goodwin (the only layman) argues for a figurative interpretation of the Biblical creation stories.

        Both high and low churchmen are appalled. The authors are called "the Seven Against Christ". Dr. Pusey collects 11,000 signatures from outraged clergymen who still believe in scriptural inerrancy and eternal damnation for the wicked. Temple writes to the bishop of London, "Many years ago you urged us from the University pulpit to undertake the critical study of the Bible. You said that it was a dangerous study, but indispensable.... To tell a man to study, yet bid him, under heavy penalties, come to the same conclusions with those who have not studied, is to mock him."

        Conservatives are shocked when a secular court allows the clerical contributors to retain their positions. The court finds that a priest who doubts eternal damnation is not a threat to public morality.

    • Prof. Benjamin Jowett -

    • Science and Religion: Baden-Powell and the Anglican Debate, 1800-1860 -

    • Baden-Powell Family History -

    • Stuart Jones - Senior Lecturer in History
      • 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."

    • Anglican Timeline - 1833-1890: The Victorian era -

    • The Correspondence of Charles Darwin: Introduction to Volume 8: 1860 (Cambridge University Press 1993) -

    • "The rise and main characteristics of the Anglican Evangelical movement in England and America" by The Very Reverend Alexander Clinton Zabriskie, S. T. D., D. D., :

    • "Victorian Britain 1837-1901 - a simply chronology:

    • "Chapter 5: The Discourses of Journalism: "Arnold and Pater" Again and Wilde :

    • INTERPRETATION (reference to Jowett and Essays and Reviews) -

    • The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907-21) - Volume XII. The Romantic Revival. - XIII. The Growth of Liberal Theology. - 14. Essays and Reviews. : -

      • The publication of Essays and Reviews in 1860 made the broad churchmen a storm-centre as much as Tract XC had done for the high churchmen. It was not intended, but was generally taken to be, the manifesto of a party. The volume was, in fact, the concluding number of a series of Oxford and Cambridge essays, issued annually. The editor, Henry Bristow Wilson, was a country clergyman whose Bampton lectures entitled The Communion of Saints (1851) had already caused him to become suspect. The seven writers consisted of six clergymen, and one layman, Charles Wycliffe Goodwin, an Egyptologist who had resigned his Cambridge fellowship on finding himself unable to take holy orders. They were soon, by an outraged religious public, dubbed Septem contra Christum. Replies, in the shape of books and pamphlets and articles, continued for many months to be issued. Two of the essayists, Rowland Williams and the editor, were tried and condemned for heresy in the court of arches; their acquittal, on appeal to the judicial committee of the privy council, afforded a valuable protection to liberty of thought within the church of England. But it is not hard to account for the opposition to the essayists. Though many of the essays were blameless and unaggressive, the general effect was negative, and some of the essays were provocative. Maurice complained of the absence of theology in the volume, and especially of the neglect of "the full revelation of God in Christ" which he believed to be all that was worth preaching. Stanley, who must have symbolised closely with some of the contributors, found fault with its negative character: "No book which treats of religious questions can hope to make its way to the heart of the English nation unless it gives, at the same time that it takes away." The editor gave just offence in his essay, "The National Church," by betraying a greater anxiety to see the church national than Christian. Baden Powell, Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford from 1827, was a survivor from the early Oriel school, and died directly after the issue of Essays and Reviews. He had already written much on the relations of the theology and science, and in his essay he pressed the uniformity of nature against the argument for miracle. But for his opportune death, he could hardly have escaped prosecution. His generation would never have tolerated his attempt to free Christian theism from a dependence on miracles. Mark Pattison’s essay, "The Tendencies of Religious Thought, 1688–1750," was, for the most part, a purely historical survey, and would have avoided criticism if it had not appeared in the incriminating volume. Jowett urged, "Interpret the Scripture like any other book," and yet maintained that it would remain unlike any other book.

        Scripture has an inner life or soul; it has also an outward body or form. That form is language, which imperfectly expresses our common notions, much more those higher truths which religion teaches.

        His essay, like Frederick Temple’s, "The Education of the World," was pious and conciliatory, though both included (what, indeed, gives unity to the whole collection of essays) a strong plea for free criticism. "He is guilty of high treason against the faith," wrote Temple, "who fears the result of any investigation, whether philosophical, or scientific, or historical." Yet, the future archbishop may have had some qualms when he read Rowland Williams’s essay on Bunsen’s Biblical Researches. The shock was not mediated by the English writer, but rendered liable to cause the maximum of offence. Williams’s Psalms and Litanies, published by his widow in 1872, proves him to have had a true devotional feeling, and a desire to enter into communion with the Eternal Spirit, but it also shows how he consistently reduced ancient collects to a unitarian standard. Maurice had, indeed, touched the chief defect of Essays and Reviews, a defect which the lapse of time has made even more apparent. The disparagement of doctrine, and, especially, the neglect to contribute anything to the understanding of the person and nature of Jesus Christ, render it of little service to a later age, which, like other ages before it, sees that here is the core of essentially Christian thinking. The true claim of the essayists to grateful remembrance is that they asserted with one voice the duty of the Christian church to welcome new truth, and the right of her accredited sons to make it known. Not in vain is one of the essayists commemorated on the walls of his college chapel as a scholar qui libertatem cleri anglicani feliciter vindicavit.

[Back to1860 publication: "Essays and Reviews" Main Page]
[Background as stated in A.D. White's 1895, "The Warfare Of Science With Theology"]
[Extracts about the book from other sources.]
[ASCII text of "Essays and Reviews"]
[Text of "Essays and Reviews" as Scanned JPGs from the original 1860 Publication]

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