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Title: Alexander Duff and the theological and philosophical background to the General Assembly's Mission in Calcutta to 1840
Author: Maxwell, Ian Douglas
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1995
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This thesis sets out to explore the theological and philosophical background to the General Assembly's Institution in Calcutta. This is done by means of a study of the education and early career of Alexander Duff, the mission's first superintendent, and an examination of the institutions with which Duff was involved. Earlier historical study by Duff's Victorian biographers suggested that the Evangelical Revival was a significant influence on Duff's early religious formation. Duff's involvement in the Theological and Student Missionary Societies at the university has already been identified by several historians as important for his later mission interests. The powerful influence of Thomas Chalmers, Professor of Moral Philosophy at the United Colleges has also been noted. This thesis argues, however, that the most important elements of Duff's later approach to mission in Calcutta have their origins in the educational traditions of St. Andrews University. From the Humanities course there Duff imbibed a Baconian theory of modernity. And the rhetoric skills to which he was introduced in Professor James Hunter's class were to be a characteristic of his later career. Alexander Duff's main theological training was at St. Mary's, the divinity college of St. Andrews University. This training, the thesis argues, was in the then dominant tradition of rational Calvinism. The emphasis of this tradition was essentially on the importance of rationality for Christian belief, chiefly expressed in an assured confidence in the potentialities of reason and the rational progress of history. The argument of the thesis continues by tracing the contours of the wide ranging debate within Scottish Presbyterianism on the progress of civil society and the key role of rationality in advancing that progress. Many of the assumptions and expectations underlying the establishment of the Institution in Calcutta first emerged in this debate.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available