This book is written in the hope that a neglected period of history might be better understood. What will be argues is that many of the themes which began to dominate theology in the 1930s were already present well before the First World War. Similarly, the criticism of liberalism which Barth refined into an art form after the First World War was paralleled many years earlier in perhaps unlikely places. The plot itself is complex and has many unexpected turns, especially in the matter of theological diplomacy between England and Germany. Yet, what the author hopes is more interesting are the relationships between theology, Bible, culture and society which emerge. He has sought to situate theological ideas in their broader context: eschatology was particularly suited as a theological counterpart tothe cultural contradictions and inequalities of modernity which found expression in the year before 1914.
This is a compelling case study of a distinctive theological theme - the eschatological interpetation of the historical Jesus in Edwardian England - as an attempt to add greater precision to the history of theology in a neglected period. Looking at the impact of Adolf Harnack, Alfred Loisy, Albert Schweitzer and Johannes Weiss on biblical studies and theology before the First World War, Chapman argues that the future course of theology, in which eschatology played such a crucial role, was already mapped at this time. Assessing the work of William Sanday F.C. Burkitt and George Tyrrell, Chapman looks at the theological diplomacy between Britain, France and Germany and uncovers a cultural crisis that made eschatology such an appealing idea.>
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