Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy

Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy

by Paul C. Gutjahr
     
 

Charles Hodge (1797-1878) was one of nineteenth-century America's leading theologians, owing in part to a lengthy teaching career, voluminous writings, and a faculty post at one of the nation's most influential schools, Princeton Theological Seminary. Surprisingly, the only biography of this towering figure was written by his son, just two years after his death.

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Overview

Charles Hodge (1797-1878) was one of nineteenth-century America's leading theologians, owing in part to a lengthy teaching career, voluminous writings, and a faculty post at one of the nation's most influential schools, Princeton Theological Seminary. Surprisingly, the only biography of this towering figure was written by his son, just two years after his death. Paul C. Gutjahr's book is the first modern critical biography of a man some have called the "Pope of Presbyterianism."

Hodge's legacy is especially important to American Presbyterians. His brand of theological conservatism became vital in the 1920s, as Princeton Seminary saw itself, and its denomination, split. The conservative wing held unswervingly to the Old School tradition championed by Hodge, and ultimately founded the breakaway Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The views that Hodge developed, refined, and propagated helped shape many of the central traditions of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American evangelicalism. Hodge helped establish a profound reliance on the Bible among Evangelicals, and he became one of the nation's most vocal proponents of biblical inerrancy. Gutjahr's study reveals the exceptional depth, breadth, and longevity of Hodge's theological influence and illuminates the varied and complex nature of conservative American Protestantism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Gutjahr gives a thoughtful and well-written analysis as an historian of Charles Hodge in a volume that is beautifully produced...[The] volume is a delight. It features a whole gallery of rough sketches of the persona of Charles Hodge's circle and contemporaries. The pictures, portraits, and lithographs reproduced in the body of the book are stunning...The book involves an impressive amount of research and, as one would expect from a Professor of English, is beautifully written."—Haddington House Journal

"Gutjahr's biography is worthwhile for anyone who is seriously interested in Charles Hodge."—Interpretation

"Gutjahr's fine biography stands as a welcome challenge to a historiography that tends to oversimplify and dehumanize both Hodge and his cherished conservative orthodoxy."—The Journal of American History

"Gutjahr's biography renders Charles Hodge's confessional Calvinism in all its intricacy and combativeness, but it also restores the humaneness of the man, his friendships, affections, travels, ambitions, and frailties. Having spent ten years with Hodge, Gutjahr has gained from that intimacy a remarkably panoramic view of nineteenth-century American Protestant thought. It is an impressive achievement."—Leigh E. Schmidt, Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America, Harvard University

"Charles Hodge was an unwritten chapter in American religious history until he met his biographer in Paul Gutjahr. This monumental, carefully researched, and thoroughly readable study of the 'Pope of Presbyterianism' fills a large gap in the history of conservative Protestant theology in America and offers keen insight into an intellectual tradition whose legacy can be traced to the present day."—David Morgan, Professor of Religion, Duke University

"Charles Hodge, one of the most influential religious thinkers in nineteenth-century America, has been the subject of considerable specialized research but few general studies. Paul Gutjahr has now remedied this lack with an unusually capable book that both explains why Hodge's conservative Calvinism exerted its great influence and why the theologian became such a beloved figure to so many (including some of his foes). It is a most welcome biography."—Mark Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

"Fair and historically contextualized, showing Hodge's importance in his time and world. The book is well written...Everyone interested in nineteenth-century American church history or Presbyterian history should read this work...Gutjahr's fine biography will give its readers a good idea of why Charles Hodge was loved by family, students, and all who knew him, while at the same time being a churchman of great significance."—New Horizons

"From a biographical standpoint, Gutjahr's book seems to be a bit more effective in portraying Hodge as a total person. Not only is the personal side of Hodge enhanced with pictures of Hodge's family, friends, and homestead, Gutjahr's practice of having more chapters of shorter length allows him to move back and forth between the home and denomination more often, giving the reader a more rounded picture of Hodge's life."—Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199895526
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
12/13/2011
Pages:
518
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Paul C. Gutjahr is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University. He also teaches American Studies and Religious Studies. He has written and edited numerous books and articles, including: An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States, 1776-1881; Popular American Literature of the 19th Century; and Illuminating Letters: Typography and Literary Interpretation.

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