John Goodwin and the Puritan Revolution: Religion and Intellectual Change in Seventeenth-Century England

Overview

John Goodwin (1594-1665) was one of the most prolific and controversial writers of the English Revolution; his career illustrates some of the most important intellectual developments of the seventeenth century. Educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, he became vicar of a flagship Puritan parish in the City of London. During the 1640s, he wrote in defence of the civil war, the army revolt, Pride's Purge, and the regicide, only to turn against Cromwell in 1657. Finally, repudiating religious uniformity, he became ...

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Overview

John Goodwin (1594-1665) was one of the most prolific and controversial writers of the English Revolution; his career illustrates some of the most important intellectual developments of the seventeenth century. Educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, he became vicar of a flagship Puritan parish in the City of London. During the 1640s, he wrote in defence of the civil war, the army revolt, Pride's Purge, and the regicide, only to turn against Cromwell in 1657. Finally, repudiating religious uniformity, he became one of England's leading tolerationists. This richly contextualised study, the first modern intellectual biography of Goodwin, explores the whole range of writings produced by him and his critics. Amongst much else, it shows that far from being a maverick individualist, Goodwin enjoyed a wide readership, pastored one of the London's largest Independent congregations and was well connected to various networks. Hated and admired by Anglicans, Presbyterians and Levellers, he provides us with a new perspective on contemporaries like Richard Baxter and John Milton. It will be of special interest to students of Puritanism, the English Revolution, and early modern intellectual history. JOHN COFFEY is Reader in Early Modern History at the University of Leicester.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2007

    Goodwin Needs to Be Better Known

    Goodwin book review: I am the editor of the book ¿Redemption Redeemed: A Puritan Defense of Unlimited Atonement¿ (2004), a compilation of excerpts from a larger book Goodwin wrote in 1650. I was thrilled to learn that a prominent historian was writing a biography of this major 17th Century English figure. Goodwin was a very well-known and respected pastor-theologian and public figure who wrote about 60 books and pamphlets on many issues. Coffey does a great job of describing Goodwin¿s life and significance. I have been used to studying Goodwin as a Puritan who was a former Calvinist turned prolific Arminian. He had many theological fans and opponents. But Goodwin was involved in many controversial issues during his life including those that were political. He was like an English version of Sam Adams, writing in support of the English Civil War (supporting the Parliamentary forces against the King) and was a supporter of ¿tolerance¿ of various religious perspectives. The man was really ahead of his time. Coffey writes: ¿during the middle decades of the seventeenth century, few had done so much to redefine the theology, ecclesiology and politics of English Protestantism.¿ In terms of public knowledge by Christians, Goodwin is probably about where the (now) famed English Calvinist theologian John Owen was in the 1950s. Owen (who lived during Goodwin¿s era) was largely unknown then. His books were subsequently republished and he gained more recognition. The same needs to happen with Goodwin as an Arminian. I hope this biography and my edited work will contribute toward that. I deduct one star because of the very expensive price. I really think Coffey could have made a better choice of publisher. It amazes me as well that Boydell charges $105 and couldn¿t even be bothered including a dust jacket.

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