Edward Bouverie Pusey

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Edward Bouverie Pusey

The English clergyman and scholar Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) was one of the major figures of the Oxford Movement, which began at Oxford in 1833 to overcome the dangers threatening the Church of England.

Edward Pusey's lineage was noble. His father had inherited the estate of Pusey, in Berkshire, where Edward was born on Aug. 22, 1800. His childhood was calm and self-assured but isolated. He accepted his mother's High Anglican teaching and moved confidently toward a clerical vocation by way of Eton and Oxford. As a student, Pusey labored endlessly, reading for as much as 17 hours a day. He won a first-class degree at Christ Church, Oxford, and then in 1823 was elected a fellow of Oriel College, where he met John Keble and John Henry Newman.

Pusey then determined "to devote my life to the Old Testament, " and he studied theology and Semitic languages at the universities of Göttingen and Berlin between 1826 and 1828. On his return his father permitted him to marry Maria Barker, whom he had loved for many years, and that same year Pusey was ordained. Late in 1828 he became regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford and was appointed canon of Christ Church. He also published a critical history of German theology.

Late in 1833 Pusey gravitated toward the Oxford Movement. He wrote tracts on the advantages of fasting (1834) and on baptism (1836) in the series Tracts for the Times. From the standpoint of public prestige, his adhesion to the Oxford Movement, Newman said, supplied it with "a position and a name." The movement was sometimes known as "Puseyism" throughout the later 1830s.

In 1836 Pusey began his influential editorship of the Library of Fathers, beginning with the works of St. Augustine, Ultimately 48 volumes in this series were published, and Pusey contributed several studies of patristic works.

When Newman withdrew from the Oxford Movement, Pusey became its leader. In 1843 Pusey, who had defended Newman's Tract No. 90, was charged with preaching heresy in a sermon on the Eucharist, "The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent." In secret proceedings of questionable fairness he was privately suspended from preaching at Oxford for 2 years. In 1845 he assisted in the establishment of the first Anglican sisterhood, and throughout the rest of his life he assisted in establishing Anglican orders. In 1846 Pusey claimed in his sermon "The Entire Absolution of the Penitent" that the Church of England possessed the right of priestly absolution, thus inaugurating the Anglican practice of private confession.

In his remaining years at Oxford, Pusey fought for Tractarian objectives but without major successes. He opposed the increasing secularization of the university, in which intellectual life was being segregated from a moral and spiritual base. He also worked for Christian unity, but he was defeated partly by the new assertions of Roman authority under the papacy of Pius IX. His sermon "The Rule of Faith" (1851) did, however, check English conversions to Roman Catholicism.

Pusey's private life exemplified the personal holiness that marked the Tractarians' purpose. His wife died of consumption in 1839, and his only son became a chronic invalid and a cripple. Only one child survived him. For Pusey these tragedies, and the public hostility he encountered, were spurs to greater penitence, humility, and submission. He practiced simplicity, self-denial, and works of charity.

Pusey's Eirenicon (3 parts, 1865-1870) was an attempt to find common ground for reuniting Roman Catholicism and the Church of England. Its publication caused much controversy, being answered by Newman. Pusey died at Ascot Priory, Berkshire, on Sept. 16, 1882.

Further Reading

The basic biography of Pusey is Henry P. Liddon, Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey, D.D.. (4 vols., 1893-1897). A brief panegyric by Charles C. Grafton, Pusey and the Church Revival (1902), is useful as an explication of Anglo-Catholic theology. Newman's comments on Pusey are in his famous autobiography, Apologia pro vita sua (1864). Of the large literature on the Oxford Movement generally, an early and deeply sympathetic account by a disciple is Richard W. Church, The Oxford Movement (1897). Among the later histories are a broad and fair treatment by Yngue T. Brilioth, The Anglican Revival (1933), and Geoffrey C. Faber, Oxford Apostles (1933), a lively work full of psychological insight but not unfriendly. A useful anthology of primary readings is Owen Chadwick, ed., The Mind of the Oxford Movement (1960).

Additional Sources

Pusey rediscovered, London: SPCK, 1983. □

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Edward Bouverie Pusey (pyōō´zē), 1800–1882, English clergyman, leader in the Oxford movement. Having studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, Pusey was elected a fellow of Oriel College (1823) and thus became associated with John Keble, John Henry Newman, and their group. He studied theology and Semitic languages at Göttingen and Berlin and then wrote (1828–30) a critical history of German theology; however, the work was misunderstood as a defense of German rationalism, and Pusey later withdrew it. In 1828 he was ordained an Anglican priest, was made regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford, and was appointed canon of Christ Church, a position he retained for the rest of his life. In late 1833 he formally aligned himself with the Oxford movement; the tracts on fasting (1834) and baptism (1836) in the series Tracts for the Times were Pusey's. As his tract on fasting was the first one not published anonymously the movement was sometimes known, usually derogatorily, as Puseyism. From 1836, Pusey was editor of the influential Library of Fathers and contributed several studies of patristic works. When Newman withdrew from the Oxford movement in 1841, Pusey became its leader. His influence in the High Church party was widened when he was suspended from preaching for two years because of the ideas expressed in his sermon, "The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent" (1843). He advocated the doctrine of the Real Presence, which holds that the body and blood of Christ are actually (and not symbolically or figuratively) present in the sacrament. In 1845 he assisted in the establishment of the first Anglican sisterhood and throughout his life continued his efforts toward establishing Anglican orders. His sermon "The Entire Absolution of the Penitent" (1846) claimed for the Church of England the right of priestly absolution, thus establishing the Anglican practice of private confession. His sermon "The Rule of Faith" (1851) was credited with checking the secessions to Roman Catholicism that had been accelerated by his suspension and by the controversy over the Gorham case, which involved the right of the privy council to adjudicate on matters of church doctrine. In the 1850s and 60s he published several works on the Real Presence and on the faults of rationalist methods of contemporary biblical scholarship. He strongly defended High Church doctrines that supported ritualism, although he was never a ritualist himself. His Eirenicon (3 parts, 1865–70), an endeavor to find some ground for reuniting Roman Catholicism and the Church of England, was answered by Cardinal Newman and generated considerable controversy. His name is perpetuated in Pusey House at Oxford, where his library is maintained.

See biographies by H. P. Liddon (4 vol., 1893–97), M. Trench (1900), and G. L. Prestige (1933); C. C. Grafton, Pusey and the Church Revival (1914); G. Faber, Oxford Apostles (1933).

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PUSEY, EDWARD BOUVERIE (18001882), along with John Keble and John Henry (later Cardinal) Newman, a leader of the Oxford Movement (sometimes called Tractarianism), a high church development in the Church of England that flourished between 1833 and 1845. Pusey was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, and was a fellow at Oriel before becoming regius professor of Hebrew and canon of Christ Church. Newman said of Pusey, "He at once gave us a position and a name." With Newman's defection to Roman Catholicism, Pusey became the primary leader of the movement until his death.

Pusey was among the first English scholars to become acquainted with the modern critical approach to scripture emerging in Germany, but throughout this exposure he maintained a quite conservative posture. His influence on the religious life of England can be seen in several areas: his tracts and sermons gave popular impetus to a revival of medieval piety in England, he was a friend and mentor of the nineteenth-century monastic revival, and the practice of private confession to a priest in modern Anglicanism can be traced to his sermon on the subject in 1846.

Extreme rigor characterized his personal piety, and his theology left little room for the forgiveness of sins after baptism. His long and diligent work on the subject of baptismal regeneration suffered from his failure to define the meaning of the term. As a whole, his scholarship lacked the subtle, seminal, and lasting quality of Newman's, or the poetic warmth of Keble's.

Pusey's life seemed characterized by defeats or disappointments: the appointment as regius professor of divinity of the liberal theologian Renn Hampden over Tractarian protests; the promulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility; his censure by the university for his sermon on the real presence in the Eucharist; the departure from Anglicanism of Newman and others; and the Privy Council's overruling of the Ecclesiastical Courts on the Gorham case, and others like it, which seemed to Pusey to be an unwarranted intrusion of the state into the affairs of the church. However, his prestige, loyalty, and steadying influence within the Oxford Movement and subsequent Anglo-Catholicism marked a permanent change in direction within Anglicanism.

See Also

Newman, John Henry.


Good collections of Pusey's writings are Spiritual Letters, edited by J. O. Johnston and W. C. E. Newbolt (New York, 1901), and The Mind of the Oxford Movement, edited by Owen Chadwick (Stanford, Calif., 1960). Useful biographical matter can be found in Life of Pusey, 4 vols., edited by Henry P. Liddon (London, 18841887), which includes an extensive bibliography of Pusey's published works in volume 4.

C. Fitzsimons Allison (1987)

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Anglican theologian, leader of the oxford movement; b. Pusey, Berkshire, England, Aug. 22, 1800; d. Ascot Priory, Sept. 16, 1882. His father, Philip Bouverie, took the name Pusey in 1789. Edward was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford. Elected a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, in 1823, he formed close friendships there with John keble and John Henry newman.

From 1825 to 1827 he attended German universities at Göttingen, Berlin, and Bonn, where he studied under Friedrich schleiermacher, Johann August Neander, and other leaders of the higher criticism. He studied also Oriental languages before returning to England, where in 1828 he was married, ordained, and appointed regius professor of Hebrew and canon of Christ Church, offices he held until his death. In 1833 he joined Newman, Keble, and Richard Hurrell froude in their effort to revive the Catholic tradition in the Church of England. Pusey's learning and prestige helped to establish the Oxford Movement as a serious force. His essay, Scriptural Views of Holy Baptism (1835), changed the character of the Tracts for the Times from pamphlets to learned studies. He also helped to found the Library of the Fathers. Despite his somewhat awkward preaching style, his sermons were most influential in propagating the movement's ideals.

Like Newman, Pusey was treated harshly by the Oxford authorities, who in 1843 condemned his moderately Catholic sermon on the Eucharist and suspended him from preaching for two years. Unlike Newman, Pusey refused to despair of the Church of England. Assuming leadership of the faltering movement, he sought to prevent others from following Newman into the Catholic Church by emphasizing that anglicanism retained the sacraments and apostolic succession. While his treatises on the sacraments, The Real Presence in the Fathers (1855) and The Real Presence (1857), defended the High Church position, he attempted to check the spread of liberalism in the church. He tried unsuccessfully to have Benjamin Jowett, professor of Greek at Oxford, prosecuted for heresy in 1863, and he maintained the eternity of hell against the views of F. W. Farrar in 1880. Pusey believed that reunion with Rome was the most effective means of checking the spread of unbelief. His first Eirenicon (1865) asserted that the only obstacles to reunion were unofficial doctrines respecting the Blessed Mother, purgatory, and indulgences. His second Eirenicon (1869) stressed Anglican objections to the immaculate conception. Newman's discouraging reply to his appeals, however, and the definition of papal infallibility in 1870 ended his hopes.

Bibliography: Spiritual Letters of E. B. Pusey, ed. j. o. johnston and w. c. e. newbolt (London 1898). h. p. liddon, Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey, ed. j. o. johnston and r. j. wilson, 4 v. (London 189397), with list of his writings in v.4.

[t. s. bokenkotter]

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Pusey, Edward Bouverie (1800–82). A leader of the Oxford movement, Pusey contributed to the series which led to the alternative description of ‘tractarians’. He also gave the movement another nickname by maintaining the tradition of the tractarians within the Church of England after Newman's secession to Roman catholicism. Pusey fought a rearguard action to prevent others following and his supporters, dedicated to restrained and respectable high churchmanship, became known as ‘Puseyites’. He refused to be drawn into the ritualism which for many was the natural consequence of the Oxford movement, but supported the revival of Anglican monastic life, particularly for women. He was unique in England in his deep knowledge of contemporary German theology and was also a prodigious scholar of Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew. A prime mover in making the writings of the church fathers more widely known, he was appointed regius professor of Hebrew in Oxford at the age of 28.

Judith Champ

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Pusey, Edward Bouverie (1800–82). Leader of the Oxford Movement. As Regius Professor of Hebrew he lent his prestige and erudition to the Tractarian cause, which even became known, to its opponents, as ‘Puseyism’. His most influential activities were preaching and polemical writing, as well as spiritual counselling and acting as confessor to a wide range of people.