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John Henry Newman

The Challenge to Evangelical Religion


Frank M. Turner (View Bio)
Hardcover: Yale University Press.

John Henry Newman

Best known for his APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA and THE IDEA OF A UNIVERSITY, John Henry Newman began his career as a priest in the Church of England but converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1845, becoming a cardinal in 1879.

Strongly revising previous interpretations of Newman's life, this biography draws upon an exhaustive exploration of primary sources while focusing on Newman's relation to the Tractarian Movement and its challenge to evangelical Protestant religion. This is a major work on the religious and intellectual history of the nineteenth century.

"In his new biography of Newman, Frank Turner sets out to dismantle the cultivated self-image of the Apologia. Going beyond where even Strachey feared to tread, Turner takes an intellectual sledgehammer to the eirenic reputation of this quintessential representative of Matthew Arnold's 'Hellenic' ideal. As one of the leading historians of 19th-century thought and the author of The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, he performs it with panache…. It is an important book." — Tristram Hunt, The Guardian

"A complex leader in the early 19th-century Church of England and at Oxford, John Henry Newman (1801-90) converted to Catholicism in 1845, became a cardinal in 1879, and is currently being considered for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Turner describes Newman's years with the Church of England and Oxford with persuasive, documented research. Departing from previous interpretations, he shows Newman to be a controversial leader of followers at odds with what he saw as strong evangelicalism in the Church of England. His extreme rhetoric left him rejected both at Oxford and by high churchmen. Lectures, sermons, and correspondence give insight into his private judgments, whereby he recognized the collapse of his cause, which led to his conversion to Roman Catholicism. Turner shows Newman to be a champion of the authority of religious tradition and points to Newman's own writing to illustrate the idea of a dynamic Christian truth. Newman's concept of ‘development’-that the Christian truth was incomplete and constantly changing-provides for a truth that substantially transforms itself over the ages…. Provocative." — Library Journal

"Newman remains an enigma and Frank M. Turner comes closer than any historian of modern times in putting the pieces together on this brilliant, baffling, contradictory figure.... The opening and closing chapters of this engrossing book bear rereading both as excellent examples of the historian's craft, but also for their treatment of complex, frequently shifting evidence.... Turner's book is both a powerful and compelling statement about Newman's ideas and development during his formative years, and an indispensable guide to an important chapter in nineteenth-century English history." — Frederick Quinn, Anglican Theological Review

"This book is an extraordinary achievement. . . . [It] contributes greatly to our understanding of an all-too-human Victorian sage." — Jeffrey Cox, Historical Journal

"Turner is one of the leading historians of nineteenth-century Britain and arguable the leading intellectual historian, so expectations for this book run high—and they are not disappointed, for this is his crowning achievement." — Boyd Hilton, Cambridge University

"Turner's meticulously researched, brilliantly revisionist book hurls a grenade into Newman studies.... [A] magisterial work of intellectual archaeology." — George P. Landow, Brown University

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