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Hooker, Richard (1553 or 1554–1600)

HOOKER, RICHARD (1553 or 15541600)

HOOKER, RICHARD (1553 or 15541600), English theologian and legal scholar. Richard Hooker's major work, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (15931662), quickly became the authoritative text legitimating the Elizabethan Settlement and defending it from Catholic and Puritan attacks. Hooker, born about 1554 near Exeter, entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1569 (B.A. 1574; M.A. 1577) under the sponsorship of Bishop John Jewel (15221571). Hooker remained at Oxford until 1584, becoming a fellow, teaching logic and Hebrew, and becoming an Anglican priest. With the help of his patron, Archbishop Edwin Sandys (1516?1588), Hooker in 1585 was appointed master of the Temple in London, a position akin to dean and chief pastor. The Temple was one of the premier English centers of legal study and training. As master Hooker began his public defense of Anglicanism against Puritanism, delivering his sermons to the Temple congregation in the morning only to be rebutted by the afternoon lectures of his colleague Walter Travers (c. 15481635), a prominent Puritan scholar.

In London, Hooker lived with his good friend John Churchman. In 1588 Hooker married Joan Churchman, John's daughter. They had six children. Hooker resigned as master in 1591, perhaps at the instigation of Archbishop John Whitgift (c. 15301604), to devote himself to the composition of his Laws. He delegated his new clerical duties as subdean of Salisbury and rector of Boscombe and remained in London at Churchman's home. In 1595 the crown rewarded Hooker's 1593 publication of Books 14 of the Laws with residency in Bishopsbourne, Kent. There he continued to work on the Laws until his death in 1600. He published Book 5 of the Laws in 1597, but Books 68 were still in draft form when he died. Portions of these drafts circulated in manuscript before they were eventually published in 1648 (Books 6 and 8) and 1662 (Book 7).

The English Puritanism opposed by Hooker in the Laws asserted that there is only one true law, God's law; that Scripture clearly and adequately states this law; and that this law has exclusive authority in all things. Hooker, drawing upon Thomas Aquinas (12251274) and Aristotle (384322 b.c.e.), responded that Scripture clearly is neither intended nor sufficient to address matters of ecclesiastical or civil government; where Scripture was found wanting, recourse must be made to tradition and human reason. And in England, Scripture, tradition, and human reason supported the 1559 Elizabethan Settlement, which established Anglicanism as the state religion and adopted for it the Book of Common Prayer.

The general, Books 14 of the Laws lay the groundwork for the more specific Books 58. Book 1, the most widely read, deals with the fundamental characters of and the relations among divine, natural, and human laws. Book 2 contains proofs that Scripture does not contain laws governing all things. Along these same lines, Book 3 denies that Scripture designates an absolute form of polity. Book 4 defends the overlaps between Anglican and Catholic practice and ceremony attacked by the Puritans.

Book 5, the central and largest, seeks to conserve the Christian Commonwealth established by the settlement by defending the Book of Common Prayerespecially its role in shaping the moral character of the people. Book 6 rejects the Puritan claim that lay elders must govern the church, while Book 7 defends the continued church governance by bishops (episcopacy). Book 8, which has attracted the most critical scholarly attention, deals with the royal supremacy in religious matters and the impossibility of rigidly separating church and state.

Hooker's continued fame derives largely from Izaak Walton's biography and the anthologization of portions of Book 1 as the premier example of Elizabethan prose style. However, beginning in the early twentieth century critics assailed Hooker's three-hundred-year reputation as "judicious" and unbiased. While these attacks were justified to the extent that Hooker, with immense success, created the impression that his positions were uncontroversial, they failed to credit him for raising the standards for Renaissance controversialist tracts with his restrained style, reasoned argument, and consistent resort to first principles. Subsequent critical attention has focused on the three long-neglected yet profound limitations Hooker attached to the royal supremacy in religious matters: God's power is superior to the monarch's; the monarch's power is subject to human law, if derived from it; and the monarch is inferior to his or her realm united in opposition. Contemporary debate also surrounds whether or not the appeal by John Locke (16321704) to Hooker as the inspiration for his doctrine of the state of nature was disingenuous. Opinions are mixed as to whether to characterize Hooker's thought as essentially medieval and conservative or as more modernas containing innovative and radical elements.

See also Church of England ; Elizabeth I (England) .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Hooker, Richard. The Folger Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker. Edited by W. Speed Hill. Cambridge, Mass., 19771990. The definitive edition of Hooker's words; includes a volume containing his early sermons.

. Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: Preface, Book I, Book VIII. Edited by Arthur Stephen McGrade. Cambridge Texts of Political Thought. Cambridge, U.K., 1989. One of a widely available, popular series. This volume contains the most commonly read passages from the Laws and has an excellent introduction.

Secondary Sources

Archer, Stanley. Richard Hooker. Twayne's English Authors series. Boston, 1983.

Faulkner, Robert K. Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England. Berkeley, 1981.

Hill, W. Speed, ed. Studies in Richard Hooker: Essays Preliminary to an Edition of His Works. Cleveland, Ohio, and London, 1972.

Kirby, W. J. Torrance. Richard Hooker's Doctrine of Royal Supremacy. Leiden and New York, 1990.

McGrade, Arthur Stephen, ed. Richard Hooker and the Construction of Christian Community. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, vol. 165. Tempe, Ariz., 1997.

Andrew Majeske

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"Hooker, Richard (1553 or 1554–1600)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Hooker, Richard (1553 or 1554–1600)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hooker-richard-1553-or-1554-1600

Richard Hooker

Richard Hooker

The English divine Richard Hooker (1554-1600) is best known for his "Ecclesiastical Polity, " a work that provided a solid theological basis for the newly established Church of England.

Nothing is known of Richard Hooker's early life apart from his birth at Exeter in Devonshire. He went to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, about 1568. His appointment as deputy to the regius professor of Hebrew is one of the best-known events in his Oxford career; and a small pension of £4 a year was given Hooker by the mayor and Chamber of Exeter in 1582. It is likely that he left Oxford in 1584, when he was presented to the vicarage of Drayton Beauchamp. It is possible that he never resided there, because he was negotiating in London for the mastership of the Temple Church, which he got in 1585. In 1588 he married Joan Churchman; they later had two sons, who died in infancy, and four daughters.

While at Oxford, Hooker had been tutor to Edwin Sandys, who was to have a notable career as a statesman, become a director of the Virginia Company, and be knighted. Hooker sold the copyright in the eight books of his Ecclesiastical Polity to Sandys for about £50 plus a certain number of copies of the printed books; while, for his part, Sandys was to get the books printed. Only the first five appeared and at considerable cost to Sandys: the first four in 1593, the fifth book in 1597. Why the last three books were not published until the middle of the 17th century has caused much discussion among scholars, touching not least upon the genuineness of these volumes. In 1591 Hooker had accepted the living of Boscombe in Wiltshire, from which in 1595 he went to the living of Bishopsbourne, near Canterbury, where he died.

C. J. Sisson, perhaps the greatest modern Hooker scholar, stated: "In the long and crowded roll of great English men of letters there is no figure of greater significance than Hooker. … His own life's work is a monument of pure and splendid prose style and of lucid philosophic thought, based on unsurpassed scholarship in the vast field of his theme."

Further Reading

Hooker's Works were published in three volumes in 1888. An early life of Hooker by Gauden, Bishop of Worcester, was so unsatisfactory that Archbishop Sheldon of Canterbury commissioned Izaak Walton to write a biography. This has been the standard life since its publication in 1665 and was included in the 1888 edition of Hooker's Works. C. J. Sisson, The Judicious Marriage of Mr. Hooker (1940), provided some important corrections. Modern studies of Hooker are F. J. Shirley, Richard Hooker and Contemporary Political Ideas (1949), and John S. Marshall, Hooker and the Anglican Tradition (1963).

Additional Sources

Archer, Stanley., Richard Hooker, Boston: Twayne, 1983. □

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Hooker, Richard

Hooker, Richard (1554–1600). Theologian and political theorist. Educated at Oxford, Hooker became a fellow of Corpus Christi College and master of the Temple before ‘retiring’ to a country living to write his masterly defence of the Elizabethan system of government The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. His intention was to show how in England there was an essential unity between church and state, which were different aspects of a single community, both subject to the authority of the monarch. However, Hooker insisted that the monarch's authority, though supreme, was not arbitrary. It was limited both by being founded on the consent of the people, and by being subject to the rule of law, a body of civil and ecclesiastical statutes originating in Parliament. In this work, Hooker supplied the most effective statement of the theoretical foundations of Anglicanism that has ever been written, and greatly influenced the ideas of later political theorists such as John Locke and Edmund Burke.

Tim S. Gray

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"Hooker, Richard." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Hooker, Richard

Richard Hooker, 1554?–1600, English theologian and clergyman of the Church of England. He studied and lectured at Oxford and preached at Drayton-Beauchamp, Buckinghamshire; at the Temple Church, London; at Boscombe, Wiltshire; and at Bishopsbourne, Kent. His famous Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (in 8 books, of which only 5 were published in his lifetime) was an epoch-making discussion of church government, written in an excellent prose style. It helped to formulate the intellectual concepts of Anglicanism, and its influence on the theory of government (civil as well as ecclesiastical) as based on rules of reason was widely felt in England. An edition of Hooker's works (1666) contained a celebrated biography by Izaak Walton (1665).

See the critical edition of his complete works, ed. by W. S. Hill et al. (2 vol., 1977–80); W. S. Hill, Richard Hooker: A Descriptive Bibliography of the Early Editions, 1593–1724 (1970); W. S. Hill, Studies in Richard Hooker (1972).

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"Hooker, Richard." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Hooker, Richard

Hooker, Richard (c.1554–1600). Anglican theologian. As the apologist of the Elizabethan religious settlement in England, he was a decisively important interpreter of Anglicanism. His Treatise on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, also a classic of English prose, was only partly published in his lifetime (books i–v of eight books). Starting from a broadly conceived philosophical theology appealing to natural law, he attacked the Puritans for regarding the Bible as a mechanical code of rules, since not everything that is right (e.g. episcopacy) finds precise definition in the scriptures. Moreover, the Church is not a static institution, and the method of Church government will change according to circumstances. Hence the Church of England, though reformed, possesses continuity with the early Church.

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"Hooker, Richard." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hooker-richard