An Irish Theologian in Elightenment France: Luke Joseph Hooke 1714-96

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An Irish Theologian in Enlightenment France: Luke Joseph Hooke 1714-96 By Thomas O'Connor. (Portland, Oregon: Four Courts Press. 1995. Pp. 218. $39.50.)

Readers of R. R. Palmer's Catholics and Unbelievers in Eighteenth Century France will recognize the name. Luke Joseph Hooke, a Parisian doctor, professor at the Sorbonne, was directly associated with the two major confrontations between the Faculty of Theology of Paris and the French Enlightenment: the theses of Abbe de Prades and the censure of J. J. Rousseau's Emile. He wrote influential theological treatises that had him catalogued as a Catholic apologist. In this work, that appears to be adapted from a doctoral dissertation, Thomas O'Connor attempts to reconsider this judgment by looking at the context as well as the content of Hooke's theological vision. The book could be divided accordingly into two parts, the first presenting the background, familial and educational, followed by the divine's major achievements in the Faculty; the second one being an analysis and evaluation of Hooke's opus magnum, Principia religionis naturalis et revelatae (1752). A last chapter forms the conclusions.

The first part is informative and useful, as very little has been written on the history of the Faculty of Theology of Paris in the eighteenth century. When Hooke entered the Faculty, in 1734, the Jansenist party had been decimated (more than 200 doctors were expelled) but a remnant survived, still influential by the support they received from Parlement, that clashed repeatedly with another group, the "Independents," who sought to defend the traditional authority and autonomy of the body. A third party, smaller in size, comprized the "Modernizers" (a term borrowed from Palmer) who attempted to come to terms with the issues raised by the Enlightenment. Hooke was clearly a member of this circle, but he got in trouble when one of his disciples, the Abbe M. de Prades, defended in 1751 theses of major ordinaria that displayed the influence of the Encyclopedie. …


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