Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A History of English Christianity, 1920-2000

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A History of English Christianity, 1920-2000

Article excerpt

ADRIAN HASTINGS. A History of English Christianity, 1920-2000. 4th ed. London: SCM Press, 2001. Pp. lxi + 720, introduction, index. £25 (paper).

Readers of the following comments should consider them an addendum to the enthusiastic review in these pages (A +EH 62 [1993]: 453-55) of the third edition of Adrian Hastings' history, which covered the period 1920-1990. This latest edition reprints the text of its predecessor, including its few errors (e.g., the author actually discusses the career of Hugh Lister on pp. 386-87, not on the pages the index gives); and it adds, besides a brief preface, two sections at the beginning of the book: an overview of the history of English Christianity in the twentieth century (nine pages) and a discussion of English churches and society in the 1990s (twenty pages). Both new sections feature the same blend of engaging prose, balanced judgment, and shrewd insights that characterized the previous editions.

To the reader's question, "Should I replace my third edition with this new book?" the present reviewer would respond that such a purchase is probably not necessary. At the same time, he would urge any reader that does not own the third edition to make haste to obtain this one; it is indeed the best, most readable history of English Christianity in the twentieth century currently available and an excellent complement to many of the articles found in Anglican and Episcopal History and in other journals covering modern church history.

The most glaring omissions in the new pages are, in content, any substantial (or even glancing) treatment of theology in the 1990s and, in structure, any notes or bibliographical references to accompany the added material. Perhaps, with regard to the former lacuna, this gap is partly explained by Hastings' belief that in the period under discussion "[d]octrine seemed for most people to matter a great deal less than formerly" (xx). …

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