In spite of the differing, and often conflicting interpretations, there have been several constants – beliefs about Hooker and his work – that have remained virtually unchallenged throughout the centuries. Richard Hooker, Beyond Certainty examines and calls into question three of these constants. The first to be challenged is the fundamental belief that Hooker is attached securely to the English Church and that their identities are so interwoven that to speak of one is to speak of the other. The second is that Hooker's prose – his unique writing style and powerful rhetoric – can be ignored in the process of assessing his theology. The third is the widely-held belief that, as the 'champion of reason', Hooker's faith is essentially rational and that God is perceived and experienced primarily through the intellect. Challenging the truth of each of these statements leads to an uncertainty about Hooker which, rather than negating scholarship, allows research to be liberated from the dominance of categorisation. Such a change, it is suggested, would acknowledge that Hooker's theology transcends Anglican studies and allows his radical thinking to reach a wider audience.
‘Richard Hooker’s writings are complex, and their meaning and intention contested. So a monograph that illuminates Hooker’s writings with such care and clarity is to be welcomed. Andrea Russell’s brilliant book is an outstanding contribution to the study of Hooker’s writings, and those working in theology and ecclesiology will be enormously indebted to her for this enlightening and insightful study.’
Martyn Percy, Dean, Christ Church, University of Oxford, UK
‘Hooker’s great work, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, cries out for a sensitive and self-aware theological reading, which Andrea Russell triumphantly provides, situating Hooker in the context of early-modern theology, and demonstrating the subtlety and creativity of his thought. This is a book to be read by all those who are interested in the history of the Church of England and the thought of its greatest theologian.’
Alan Ford, University of Nottingham, UK