Fortress Press

The Making of Modern English Theology: God and the Academy at Oxford, 1833-1945

The Making of Modern English Theology

God and the Academy at Oxford, 1833-1945

Daniel Inman (Author)


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The Making of Modern English Theology is the first historical account of theology’s modern institutional origins in the United Kingdom. Having avoided the revolutionary upheaval experienced by continental institutions and free from any constitutional separation of church and state, English theologians were granted a relative freedom to develop their discipline in a fashion distinctive from other European and North American institutions.

This book explores how Oxford theology, from the beginnings of the Tractarian movement until the end of the Second World War, both influenced and responded to the reform of the university. Neither becoming unbendingly confessional nor reduced to the secular study of religion, the Oxford faculty instead emerged as an important ecumenical body, rooted in the life and practice of the English churches, whilst still being located in the heart of a globally influential research university as a department of the humanities. This is an institutional history of reaction and radicalism, animosity and imagination, and explores the complex and shifting interactions between church, nation, and academy that have defined theological life in England since the early nineteenth century.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • ISBN 9781451469264
  • Format Paperback
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 192
  • Publication Date December 1, 2014


Introduction: Theology and the Modern University
1. ‘Necessary Knowledge’ or ‘Inductive Science’?  Theology at Oxford, 1833-1860
2. Theology as ‘Breakwater’ against the Tide of Unbelief, 1860-1882
3. Nonconformity and the Lux Mundi Faculty, 1882-1914
4. Ecumenical Theology: The Makings of an English Paradigm, 1914-1945
Epilogue: From ‘Sacra Theologia’ to ‘Theology and Religion’


"In this engaging study, Inman shows how in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, theology emerged from its status as an ‘architectonic science’ framing the whole of Oxford University education to become a specialized subject. Distinct for historical reasons from arrangements for theological study in Germany, Scotland, and the United States, theologians at Oxford strove to be part of the university yet root the discipline in worshipping communities. The combination of biblical criticism and the influence of ‘Nonconformist’ faculty and students, Inman argues, pushed Oxford toward a new environment for theological education that was variously furthered or impeded by strong-minded professors and graduates. The Making of Modern English Theology is a welcome addition to the growing body of scholarship on how ‘religion’ became an academic discipline."
—Elizabeth Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion, Emerita
Duke University 

"In this elegant and detailed history of the Oxford theology faculty, which combines extensive archival work with penetrating analysis, Daniel Inman charts the mutation of the university from a religious foundation founded on theology (which imposed Anglicanism and theology on all its students, many of whom were destined for Holy Orders), into a secular institution in which theology survived as a modern subject in dialogue with the other critical disciplines. Even though nineteenth-century Oxford had gained a reputation as a bastion of conservatism exemplified by such figures as Dr. Pusey, Inman shows that after his death its theology faculty soon became forward thinking and often in the vanguard of change. Where German theology remained ecumenically divided, Oxford theology became nondenominational, scientific, and pluralist."
—Mark D. Chapman
Ripon College, Cuddesdon and University of Oxford
"How would theology survive, adapt, and develop in the modern university? This is the question at the heart of Daniel Inman’s fascinating study. By focusing on Oxford University and its attempts to shape a ‘school’ of theology over the long nineteenth century, Inman explores the big issues of the day: theology’s engagement with modern scholarship, the challenge of science, and the emerging ecumenical movement. The result is both a well-researched, in-depth study of the particular case of Oxford and an illuminating book about the place of theology as an academic discipline in the modern university."
—Jane Shaw
Stanford University
"Daniel Inman has written an important and engaging book. Anyone interested in understanding the historical forces that have shaped modern English theology and its institutional environment will find much of value in this fine study."
—Thomas Albert Howard
Gordon College