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Title: The origins of John Knox's doctrine of just rebellion
Author: Main, Alan
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1963
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The subject of the thesis is, "The Origin of John Knox's Doctrine of Just Rebellion". Neither Martin Luther nor John Calvin taught any such doctrine, and therefore there can be no question of their having influenced Knox in this matter. The teaching of the famous Scottish scholastic, John Major, almost certainly reached John Knox, and a study of those parts of it which relate to political obedience shows a distinct similarity to that of the Reformer. If an examination be made of possible sources for Major's views, such as those of the Parisian scholars from 1300-1800, it will be seen how they fall into a natural line of descent. Both direct and indirect evidence point to the dependence of these last-named scholars upon Augustine and Thomas Aquinas for elements of their thought, but, more important, a case can be made out for a direct Augustinian influence upon Knox himself. The political thought of several representative sixteenth century writers from Germany, France, Switzerland, Scotland, and England, was studied, in order to compare it with that of Knox and also to see whether any or all of the men chosen could have exercised an influence over him in the formation of his doctrine of Just Rebellion. The results of this comparative analysis were varied. It was demonstrated that some of the men could have had no possible connection with Knox, but with others the interesting possibility of influence upon him could not be denied. In particular, in the case of Christopher Goodman, there was found to be positive evidence suggesting an intimate personal and literary connection with the Scottish Reformer. When all the facts relative to the study were collated, the following conclusions emerged. John Knox's advocacy of the doctrine of Just Rebellion by no means made him the lonely prophet of revolution which he has sometimes been painted. On the contrary he was, with this policy, closely in line with the positions of a large number of the Protestant theorists of his time. On the question of the origin of the doctrine, it has been proved that its most likely inspiration came from John Major. Judged by all available evidence this must have been the main starting point for his own thoughts on resistance. Probable, but not certain influence upon him came from Augustine, Goodman, and Beza, while his sojourn in Europe, and consequent acquaintance with the situation of the reformed churches there, doubtless helped to put the whole problem into perspective-for him. The fact that Knox's doctrine differed in some respects from all the other writings is explained by the fact of the particular politicalt conditions which prevailed in sixteenth century Scotland. As well as the proven influences upon him, there is also to be considered, as in all writers of political theory, the strong element of circumstance, which affected and helped to mould his developing thought. The answer, then, to the question of the origin of the doctrine of Just Rebellion has three facets: literary dependence, circumstantial influence, and the particular colouring ishich the doctrine received from Knox's own character and personality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available