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Richard Hooker and Episcopal Ecclesiology in the Church of England

SHIPP, ELIZABETH,ANN (2021) Richard Hooker and Episcopal Ecclesiology in the Church of England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis argues that in the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity, Richard Hooker presented a coherent and skilful defence of the 1559 Settlement as being congruent with wider Protestantism. It then explores how Hooker’s theory of episcopal ecclesiology as presented in the Lawes has influenced the contemporary episcopal polity of the Church of England. The question of how far the Church of England’s doctrine and practice was congruent with wider Protestantism was a key theme of the controversies with which Hooker engaged. Throughout the Lawes, Hooker constructs a defence of the 1559 Settlement as sitting within that doctrinal tradition. Whilst scholars have long noted Hooker’s arguments for the apostolic origin of the episcopate in selected passages of Hooker’s Lawes, the practical, theological, and political outcomes of his defence of episcopacy in the 1559 Elizabethan Settlement, and especially its influence upon the Oxford Movement and contemporary twenty-first century episcopal ecclesiology, have not been explored in detail, and this is one of the main focuses of this thesis.

Chapters two to five show how Hooker, in the Lawes, uses a theological and political framework in order to provide a systematic defence of the place of the Royal Supremacy, the division of ecclesiastical jurisdiction between the monarch and the clergy, and the place and power of bishops in the 1559 Settlement. This thesis shows that the subsequent attempt to claim Hooker for the cause of the Tractarians in the nineteenth century (chapter six) was far-fetched, and that by the twenty-first century (chapter seven), Hooker had largely fallen out of use in episcopal ecclesiology as viewed by traditionalist catholics. In so doing, this thesis firmly places Hooker in the ambiguous central ground of contemporary Anglican episcopacy.

Hooker’s ability to write simultaneously both theologically and politically needs to be taken seriously. It is only by doing so that his dexterous rootedness in these two spheres can be used to demonstrate Hooker’s intention: that the Lawes presented a sufficient defence of the doctrine and practice of the Church of England, and especially that of episcopal ecclesiology, as being sited within a wider Reformed Protestant understanding.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Mar 2021 12:36

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