Susan L. Roberson

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)
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The article explains how Transcendentalists used sermons in the early days when oratory was highly regarded and it also looks at how preachers participated in this influential form of communication. This period is one when Christianity was thoroughly criticized and different opinions were expressed on each and every concept of it. As the Higher Critics questioned the authenticity of certain biblical stories, the understanding of what constitutes a miracle and its role in verifying religious truths also came under scrutiny. While emphasizing the humanity of Jesus, the Higher Critics also questioned the authority of the person of Jesus. Ministers such as Emerson and Ripley left the Unitarian church. The article states, along with the figures from biblical history, Transcendentalist ministers also took examples from history and current events while giving sermons. Emerson frequently referred to Julius Caesar, George Washington, Socrates, and Christopher Columbus and told his congregation to read the biographies of great and good men.

Keywords: higher critics; miracle; biblical stories; ministers; unitarianism

Article.  5702 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century) ; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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