Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Lightfoot the Historian: The Nature and Role of History in the Life and Thought of J.B. Lightfoot (1828-1889) as Churchman and Scholar

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Lightfoot the Historian: The Nature and Role of History in the Life and Thought of J.B. Lightfoot (1828-1889) as Churchman and Scholar

Article excerpt

GEOFFREY R. TRELOAR. Lightfoot the Historian: The Nature and Role of History in the Life and Thought of J.B. Lightfoot (1828-1889) as Churchman and Scholar. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1998. Pp. xiii + 465, indices, bibliography. $76.74 (paper).

Once one gets past the annoying writing style, this is a very good book on J.B. Lightfoot. But the style can stop one cold for a long time. For example, Treloar writes: "This is why in 1858 he (with 15 others) requisitioned the Trinity Senority for a sermon every Sunday to obviate the abuse of undergraduates passing through the University without hearing a single sermon" (p. 177). The last half of the sentence actually appeared twice (p. 49) and it is only with effort that the reader is able to proceed through the text.

The novelty of the book is the focus on Lightfoot's view of history. Treloar's great contribution is to show in a sustained way that Lightfoot's view of history serves as a very practical motivator of his action in each of his spheres of engagement. Treloar details convincingly exactly how Lightfoot's understanding of history informs his life as a churchman in the Church of England, notably as cleric-fellow within Trinity College, Cambridge, as canon of St. Paul's, London and as bishop of Durham at the end of his life, as well as his role as the scholar of early Christianity and a Hulsean Professor of Divinity in Cambridge University.

The book is not a biography, but what the author calls the prolegomenon to a biography. Lightfoot did not evoke the sort of adulation from his contemporaries that produced the behemothic life and letters other Victorian figures received after their death. Treloar could easily have written a biography. He has conducted utterly exhaustive research, beyond even the requirements of the doctoral dissertation behind the book. He has given us something of an intellectual biography, in any case. The structure is unusual. After fifty-nine pages of early life, he traverses Lightfoot's adult life three times, once to lay out his view of history, again to see how the view of history affects his life as churchman, and yet again to do the same with his life as scholar. The repetitions are probably justified in that they fasten one's attention on the utility of his view of history.

Treloar characterizes the view of history as incarnational, centered on Jesus as the historical person who is the Son of God in the flesh. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.