This book identifies the religious ideas and traces the theological development of Benjamin Jowett (1817-93), outstanding 19th-century educator and master of Balliol College, Oxford. Although it is commonly believed that Jowett abandoned theology following the publication of the controversial collection Essays and Reviews, to which he was a contributor, the author argues that Jowett continued to disseminate his theological ideas as master of Balliol College and exerted a substantial influence on theologians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The conventional picture of Benjamin Jowett (1817-93) is of the outstanding educator, the famous master of Balliol College, Oxford, whose pupils were extremely influential in the public life of Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century. However, he is also recognized as a theologian since he contributed an essay 'On the Interpretation of Scripture' to Essays and Reviews, a collection published in 1860; the book's liberalism aroused great controversy, and it was eventually synodically condemned in 1864. It has been thought that having got into trouble over his essay, Jowett abandoned theology and became a purely secular figure. This book attempts to identify the ideas which caused Jowett to develop his theology, the thinkers who influenced him and how his own religious ideas evolved. It argues that, after the Essays and Reviews controversy, he deliberately chose to disseminate those ideas through the college of which he became master. It also shows how he influenced other religious thinkers and theologians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, arguing that he was more important in the history of English theology than is usually recognized.