Abstract and Keywords
The writers of the Tracts for the Times employed two visions of the Christian past that proved integral to their polemics. The successionist metanarrative of the Christian past linked the absolute and changeless nature of Christian truth claims with the apostolic succession of bishops. The supersessionist metanarrative posited a normative primitive Christianity that had been lost, and that Tractarians sought to restore. A third vision emerged in the private correspondence of several Tractarians. In this private correspondence, Samuel Wood articulated a theory of development that Newman rejected in late 1835 and early 1836, but ultimately embraced in the early 1840s. A clear understanding of these visions of history aid our understanding of Tractarian polemics, for the ways in which they appropriated the Christian past shaped their arguments.
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