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In this comprehensive study interrelating religious thought, history, and the topical literature of the Victorian period, Royal W. Rhodes examines more than 130 religious (and some nonreligious) novels by major and minor writers set in early Christian centuries. These Early Church novels were employed by churchly writers of the Victorian period to treat contemporary religious questions under the disguise of antiquity and are thus important sources for the study of Church history. As various parties within the Anglican Church, Dissenters, and Roman Catholics exploited this subgenre of Victorian…mehr

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In this comprehensive study interrelating religious thought, history, and the topical literature of the Victorian period, Royal W. Rhodes examines more than 130 religious (and some nonreligious) novels by major and minor writers set in early Christian centuries. These Early Church novels were employed by churchly writers of the Victorian period to treat contemporary religious questions under the disguise of antiquity and are thus important sources for the study of Church history. As various parties within the Anglican Church, Dissenters, and Roman Catholics exploited this subgenre of Victorian fiction for polemical purposes, churchmanship played a critical role in how the novelists re-created the first six hundred years of Christian history. Even secular writers like Wilkie Collins and Walter Pater used this format to address broad theological questions, such as the practice of celibacy, confession, ritualism, and the relation of Church and State. Other writers of Early Church novels discussed in this study include John Henry Newman, Charles Kingsley, Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Thomas Moore, John Mason Neale, Charlotte Yonge, Frederic Farrar, and Marie Corelli. Rhodes's volume will be of great interest and significance to students and scholars of both Victorian literature and theological history. Royal W. Rhodes is professor of religion at Kenyon College and the author of The Faith of Christians and Justice beyond Heaven.