The Age of Atonement: The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought, 1785-1865

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In this study of the British upper and middle classes during the first half of the 19th century, Boyd Hilton reveals that the people of this age were obsessed with catastrophe: wars, famines, pestilences, revolutions, floods, volcanoes, and the great commercial upheavals which periodically threatened to topple the world's first capitalist system. The dominant evangelical sentiment of the day interpreted such sufferings as part of God's plan and, not wanting to interfere with the dispensations of providence, governments took a harsh, stand-on-your-own-feet attitude towards social underdogs, whether they were bankrupts or paupers. In this work, Hilton studies how the transformation of religious thought—including new ideas about the nature of God and the Atonement—affected the economics, philosophy, science, and politics of the period.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hilton's fascinating, ambitious book does much more to lighten our darkness about the broader significance of evangelicalism....A persuasive and thought-provoking book."—Journal of British Studies

"Once the envy subsides, religious historians who open this extraordinary and arresting book will be strongly tempted to read it twice: once for the persuasive argument it makes about its subject, and a second time for the sheer pleasure of observing intellectual history...practiced at the very highest levels of insight and erudition....No subsequent discussion of society or religion in the age can properly begin without [this book]."—Church History

"Historians of this period are going to have to take account of Hilton's careful reading of evangelical theology and its economic implications....This important book confronts us with a puzzling mixture of unresolved relationships between religious values, social classes, material conditions, scientific ideas, and individual consciences. One of the great virtues of this volume is that it forces us to address the dilemma with abundant new information and a renewed sense of urgency."—Albion

"As a contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century British culture, The Age of Atonement is undoubtedly a study of extraordinary importance and distinction."—Journal of British Studies

"A wide-ranging, subtle, and richly rewarding study that can be pursued through several strands....This major work of intellectual and cultural history should be in all scholarly libraries and will be well worth the serious attention of students of this period."—Religious Studies Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198202950
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 428
  • Lexile: 1760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.19 (w) x 6.13 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Trinity College, Cambridge
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