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Title: The intellectual context for the development of Quakerism, 1647-1700
Author: Ward, Madeleine
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 5492
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis considers the development of Quakerism from 1647 to 1700. Changes affecting the movement in this period are often explained as the result of the Quakers' desire for socio-political respectability – that is, their desire to reduce persecution and social exclusion. This thesis does not deny the importance of socio-political factors. However, it argues that they have been exaggerated as a historical force, and that theological factors driving change have been comparatively neglected. The thesis therefore explores the Quakers' desire for 'theological respectability', by examining the scope and impact of their constructive engagement with outsiders. The project begins with an investigation into the Quakers' understanding of their personal experience, noting both continuities and underlying theological changes which cannot be explained in socio-political terms – namely, a changed view of divine immanence, a strengthened group identity, and the loss of a sense of prophetic vocation. The rest of the thesis explains these developments in their theological context. The Quakers' engagement in Christological debate forms the central case-study. Individual chapters examine the Quakers’ earliest Christology, first responses to criticism, the early career of William Penn, the intellectual development of Robert Barclay's Vehiculum Dei, the Quakers' place in the early Enlightenment, and the Keithian controversy. In particular, the need to articulate a positive theology of the Incarnation led the Quakers into conversation with many influential figures outside the movement, which in turn encouraged an increasingly derivative understanding of the Light within and more optimistic view of physical matter. These shifts relate directly to the religious changes explored in the first part of the thesis. This study illustrates the necessity of theological analysis as part of historical investigation and provides a sustained intellectual history of seventeenth-century Quakerism, demonstrating its important contribution to the intellectual landscape of the early Enlightenment.
Supervisor: Apetrei, Sarah ; Southcombe, George Sponsor: Wolfson Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Church history ; Quaker studies ; Quakerism ; Christology ; Robert Barclay ; Keithian controversy ; Light within ; Enlightenment theology ; Religious experience