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The Arch-Fiend Of Christian Faith: David Friedrich Strauss And New England Divinity

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Chapter Summary

According to Norton, Christianity was rooted in history and depended for its validity on the actuality of certain historical events. The Transcendentalists, by contrast, claimed to find in Strauss a pronounced rejection of evidentialist presuppositions and a devaluation of the institutional basis of religion. Intellectual and literary historians now highlight the continuity between the "old" and the "new schools" of New England divinity and insist that Unitarianism was diverse and lively enough to harbor even its chief rebel, Emerson. While this revaluation has clarified the kinship between Unitarianism and Transcendentalism from the perspective of intellectual and literary history, another strand of criticism still asserts hard lines of theological division and emphasizes the difference in historico-critical methods. Strauss obviated the need to read the Gospel narratives as scaled-down versions of the historical life of Jesus and highlighted instead the question of their religious significance.

Keywords: Christianity; David Friedrich Strauss; Gospel narratives; New England Divinity; transcendentalism; unitarianism



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