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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses the definition of and limits of the authority of scripture in early modern England, focusing on Richard Hooker’s influential treatise, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie (1594). Pursing what Hooker calls the ‘sundrie kindes of Wisdom’, the chapter addresses the question of how the Bible stood in relation to natural reason, as well as the concessions and amplifications brought to the reformers’ doctrine of sola scriptura, that the Bible contains all things ‘necessary to salvation’. Whereas scripture alone was to be followed in the formulation of the ‘rule of faith’, reason, custom, and human authority were necessary in the external ordering of religion. This chapter explores Hooker’s contribution to the Reformation treatment of the boundaries between the authority of scripture and that of reason, as well as the political and philosophical correlates of such debate.

Keywords: Richard Hooker, scripture and reason, natural reason, sola scriptura, Wisdom literature, ecclesiology, Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie

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