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Joseph Priestley, Scientist, Philosopher, and Theologian$
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Isabel Rivers and David L. Wykes

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215300

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215300.001.0001

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Historical Perspectives in the Mind of Joseph Priestley

Historical Perspectives in the Mind of Joseph Priestley

(p.172) 6 Historical Perspectives in the Mind of Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley, Scientist, Philosopher, and Theologian

Alison Kennedy

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Priestley's different perspectives as a historian. The discussion is divided into three parts: the first is concerned with Joseph Priestley the historian, the second with Priestley the theologian as historian and Biblical critic, and the third with the importance of his legacy in this latter respect. A brief comparison is made between Priestley's approach to the relationship between religion and history and that of David Hume and Edward Gibbon, two great historians of the 18th century. Two works by Priestley are analyzed: Lectures on History and General Policy, delivered at Warrington Academy in the late 1760s and revised and finally published in 1788, which deals with his secular approach to history; and An History of the Corruptions of Christianity, published six years earlier, in 1782. The latter reveals a different approach to historical understanding within a theological context.

Keywords:   theology, religion, historian, theologian, Biblical critic, David Hume, Edward Gibbon, Warrington Academy

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