Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Charles Hodge Revisited: A Critical Appraisal of His Life and Work

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Charles Hodge Revisited: A Critical Appraisal of His Life and Work

Article excerpt

Charles Hodge Revisited: A Critical Appraisal of His Life and Work. Edited by John W. Stewart and James H. Moorhead. (Grand Rapids: William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2002. Pp. x, 375. $25.00 paperback.)

In his summary chapter, coeditor James Moorehead states that Charles Hodge (1797-1878) was neither the bogey man nor the icon that later generations considered him. Professor at Princeton Seminary for five decades, instructor to 3,000 students, author of more than a dozen books and several score articles, Hodge's influence, particularly among certain strains of mid-nineteenth-century American Protestantism, is indisputable. This volume revisits that legacy with a well-qualified cadre of scholars providing an updated assessment of Hodge's significance as theologian, scriptural exegete, and public intellectual. Philosophically, Hodge stood squarely in the tradition of Scottish Common Sense Realism, an impulse that was powerfully regnant among many Protestants, even if challenged by the currents of Kantianism and nineteenth-century Romanticism. With its confidence in the mind to know the world and overcome any residues of Humean skepticism, this philosophical tradition promoted a static rather than a dynamic view of theology. It understood the world, the heavens, and everything in between in terms of equilibrium with little recognition of historical development. Hodge's view of scripture was equally ahistorical. The centrality of the Bible for issues of faith was paramount. This volume clarifies Hodge's engagement with European and specifically German intellectual resources that go beyond the Scottish tradition. However, these alternative resources were drawn from conservative and pietist circles, and not from the historically sensitive influences of Hegel and Schleiermacher. Finally, regarding society and politics, Hodge was firmly anchored in the Federalist-Whig-Republican trajectory, skeptical of Jacksonian appeals to the common man, fearful of the social instability posed by Transcendentalism and Abolitionism, and opposed to the market revolution taking place under his own feet. …

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