Trim: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-8892-7 • Hardback • November 2015 • $129.00 • (£99.00)
978-0-7391-8893-4 • eBook • November 2015 • $122.50 • (£95.00)
Lydia Willsky-Ciollo is assistant professor of religious studies at Fairfield University.
Introduction: Unitarianism and the Protestant Dilemma
Chapter 1: Protestantism and the Bible: From the Reformation to the American Unitarians
Chapter 2: William Ellery Channing and the Liberalizing of Biblical Authority
Chapter 3: What’s “Gospel” in the Bible? Andrews Norton and the Language of Biblical Truth
Chapter 4: The Opening of the Canon: Theodore Parker and the Transformation of Religious Authority
Chapter 5: A Practical Spirit: Frederic Henry Hedge and the Universal Church
Chapter 6: When the Levee Breaks: Unitarian Experimentation with Authority in the Late Nineteenth Century
Epilogue: Seeking Authority in Contemporary Unitarian Universalism
American Unitarianism and the Protestant Dilemma is a well detailed and deftly argued work. Willsky-Ciollo is convincing in her declaration that Unitarians were equally consumed by some of the same developments as other Protestant faiths, and in her explanation as to how the final break with the issue was made in the post-Civil War era, despite lasting internal divisions and persistent deviation from the mainstream…. This is a significant work that adds much to the growing body of work on Unitarianism, and it nicely contextualizes something that has not been as frequently or clearly emphasized in prior works.
— New England Quarterly
Scholars of religion, biblical interpretation and US intellectual history will all find this of immense interest. For historians of religion in particular, it will challenge how nineteenth-century Christian thinkers navigated truth-seeking in relation to historic belief.
— Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Lydia Willsky-Ciollo’s thoroughly researched study returns the Bible to the center of nineteenth-century Unitarian history, showing that Unitarians and Transcendentalists wrestled as intensely as their neighbors with the paradoxes of scriptural authority. Willsky-Ciollo demonstrates that the history of religious liberalism and the history of the Bible in America belong together.
— Dan McKanan, Harvard Divinity School
Revisiting the principal makers of antebellum Unitarianism, this book breaks new ground by locating their project of reform and, especially, their uses of the Bible, in the context of a broader anxiety about the sources of authority within the Christian tradition. Rebels against authority in some sense, the early Unitarians also argued among themselves and with others about the merits of free inquiry and whether to regard the visible church as a divine institution. A crisp, well-argued intellectual history of an important moment.
— David D. Hall, Harvard Divinity School
Synthetic studies of Unitarianism have long been absent from the historiography of religion in America/the United States, and this book fills that critical gap. By taking a biographical approach, [Willsky-Ciollo] tackles the slipperiness of Unitarian theology in the best way possible, demonstrating Unitarianism’s break from New England “Presbygationalism” and its gradual drift away from bibliocentric and Christocentric Protestantism under the influence of Transcendentalism.
— John Howard Smith, Texas A&M University–Commerce
Lydia Willsky-Ciollo’s American Unitarianism and the Protestant Dilemma offers a fresh and important perspective on the emergence of American liberal religion. Through her exploration of the intellectual history of key Unitarian and Transcendentalist figures, Willsky-Ciollo puts aside past arguments that focus on theological and ecclesial controversies and instead concentrates on the question of religious and Biblical authority and how it played out among Calvinists, Unitarians, and Transcendentalists in the nineteenth century. In this work, Willsky-Ciollo asks meaningful questions on the role of religious authority which open a window on the transformation and formation of American Protestantism.
— Nicole Kirk, Meadville Lombard Theological School