Theodore Parker

Theodore Parker, 1810–60, American theologian and social reformer, b. Lexington, Mass. He graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1836 and was pastor (1837–46) of the Spring Street Unitarian Church, West Roxbury, Mass. The liberalism that he presented in Boston in 1841 and amplified in his scholarly Discourse of Matters Pertaining to Religion (1842) was then so radical that the Boston Unitarian clergy withdrew from him, although he remained a member of their association. He was one of the transcendentalists, contributed to the Dial, and edited (1847–50) the Massachusetts Quarterly Review. In 1845 he became preacher of the Twenty-eighth Congregational Society of Boston. His congregation grew to 7,000. In addition he lectured at lyceums throughout the country and was a leader in antislavery and other reform activities. In 1859 ill health forced him to retire, and he died in Florence. After his death Parker's works were widely read, and his once radical views gained acceptance. The best edition of his works is the Centenary (15 vol., 1907–13).

See J. Weiss, The Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker (1864, repr. 1969); biographies by O. B. Frothingham (1874) and H. S. Commager (1936, repr. 1960); J. W. Chadwick, Theodore Parker, Preacher and Reformer (1900, repr. 1971); J. E. Dirks, The Critical Theology of Theodore Parker (1948, repr. 1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

FREE! Theodore Parker: A Biography
Octavius Frothingham Brooks.
J. R. Osgood, 1874
Theodore Parker
Henry Steele Commager.
Little Brown and Company, 1936
Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker: Minister of the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, Boston
John Weiss.
Da Capo Press, vol.1, 1970
FREE! Theodore Parker: Preacher and Reformer
John White Chadwick.
Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1900
The Critical Theology of Theodore Parker
John Edward Dirks.
Columbia University Press, 1948
Theodore Parker: Orator of Superior Ideas
David B. Chesebrough; Mark A. Noll.
Greenwood Press, 1999
The Bold Brahmins: New England's War against Slavery, 1831-1863
Lawrence Lader.
E. P. Dutton, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XI "Parker's 'Law' and the Crisis of 1850"
Yankee Eloquence in the Middle West: The Ohio Lyceum, 1850-1870
David Mead.
Michigan State College Press, 1951
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Theodore Parker: Scholarly Divine"
Boats against the Current: American Culture between Revolution and Modernity, 1820-1860
Lewis Perry.
Oxford University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twenty-Two "The Experience of Change"
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