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Letter from the Rector

I have now submitted my thesis for my doctorate, the next stage is the viva.  A number of people have asked me what it contains so here is the Abstract:

“The central text of the Christian Church is the Bible, to Christians the inspired Word of God, the interpretation of which leads us to truth. Yet that raises immediate issues. Whose interpretation is true? What is the Bible's relationship with other sources of truth, such as philosophy, reason, science and Church tradition?

In the English Reformation such debates were of profound political as well as religious importance. In the late sixteenth century one scholar, Richard Hooker, addressed these issues in ways that continue to challenge the Church today, especially the Anglican Communion. This is seen in his great work, the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity. Hooker emphasised the concept of Law as a central means of God's self-revelation. Scripture's role is to communicate those truths that cannot be understood solely by natural law. After examining the late Elizabethan attitudes to the Bible in both Europe and England, the thesis answers the question of whether Hooker should be seen as a figure within the Calvinist consensus of the Church of England or as an innovator, which is our finding.

This thesis looks to place his ideas in their correct historical context and to argue that Hooker's trajectory of thought was particularly encouraged by the Danish Lutheran, Niels Hemmingsen, who was also known as Hemmingius or Hemming.  An in-depth analysis of Hemmingsen has not been published in English before.  Other figures examined include Hooker's Oxford tutor, John Rainolds; the radical Spaniard, Antonio del Corro, who also spent time in Oxford; and Hooker's contemporary and executor, Lancelot Andrewes.  They provide a trajectory for Hooker's thought.  It is also established that copies of Hemmingsen's works were freely available, including a copy of the key work, De Exegetico Methodus, in the books of one of the other Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, during Hooker's time there.  The final chapter examines the contemporary implications of this thesis in today's Anglican Communion.”

I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing you at the May Fair (Saturday 13th May).

With Best Wishes