Thomas Hooker, 1586-1647

Thomas Hooker, 1586-1647

Thomas Hooker, 1586-1647

Thomas Hooker, 1586-1647

Synopsis

Examining the relationship between Hooker's activities and his writings, Frank Shuffelton considers his role in the crises of early New England politics and religion. The author analyzes Hooker's works and shows that as preacher and pastor, theologian and architect of the Puritan religious community, Thomas Hooker voiced concerns that remained important throughout American history.


The analysis of Hooker's career is especially valuable for the information it provides concerning his close involvement with the major issues of the day: the conflict between Roger Williams and the Bay Colony; the antinomian controversy; the political and religious striving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; and the forming of a truly American community. The author distinguishes several phases in Hooker's activities that correspond to his cultural and geographical milieu at different times. He discusses Hooker's education, first pastoral experience, and career.


Originally published in 1977.


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Excerpt

The most recent biography of Thomas Hooker was published in 1891, and Cotton Mather's short biography included in his Magnalia Christi Americana was the only previous original account of Hooker's career—other accounts being abridgments or padded versions of Mather's narrative.Mather's presentation of Hooker as a model of ministerial piety contains many useful insights into Hooker's religion, character and deeds, and George Leon Walker's Thomas Hooker: Preacher, Founder, Democrat (New York, 1891) shows a scrupulously researched mastery of the relevant facts concerning Hooker's life.Unfortunately, the strength of one biographer is the weakness of the other, and both writers have failed to give an adequate treatment of Hooker's published works—Mather, perhaps, because they were so familiar to his audience, and Walker because they were so foreign.

The absence of a modern treatment of Hooker's life is in itself a good reason to retell the story of this great preacher and leader of our first Puritan settlers.A deeper and more satisfying understanding of the Puritan enterprise has been created in the last eighty years; Hooker's career deserves to be reconsidered with the scholarly accessions of the twentieth century in mind, and a biographical study will further deepen our knowledge of the New England experiment.Walker perpetuated the misleading version of Hooker's significance so dear to nineteenth-century American historians.From George Bancroft to Vernon Parrington writers have attempted to portray Hooker's removal to Connecticut as a type of the American Revolution; Perry Miller has since shown us that this interpretation will not do.Hooker was a preacher first and foremost, a founder only in a secondary sense, and hardly a . . .

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