Perceptions of the Quaker movement in the 1650's
This thesis deals both with how Quakers were perceived during the 16505
by their opponents, particularly by the clergy, and how they perceived
their own role in seventeenth century society.
It is argued that they adopted a prophetic role modelled upon that
of the Hebrew prophets, that they were deeply influenced by the apocalyptic
and millenarian thought which was widespread in seventeenth century
England, and that within the context of this thought, they saw themselves
as prophets of the last days. It is further argued that they undermined
the clergy's function as transmitters and interpreters of the word of
Scripture to the people, and therefore the role of religion as an agent
for social control.
Finally the retrospective view of Quakerism in the 1650s, which
is presented in the early Manuscript texts of Fox's Journal and the
first printed text, published in 1694, is analysed. The analysis
attempts to discover the exact nature of the view which Quakers in the
later seventeenth century were projecting of their earlier history,
and how this differed from the reality.