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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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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

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

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

HOOKER, RICHARD

Leading Anglican theologian; b. Heavitree, near Exeter, March 1554; d. Bishopsbourne, near Canterbury, Nov. 2, 1600. He early demonstrated academic ability and, with aid from Bishop J. jewel and others, attended Oxford, distinguishing himself in Hebrew, Greek, and music. After graduation he stayed on as tutor and fellow at Corpus Christi College. He was ordained in 1581 and attracted notice by disagreeing with Calvin, then at the height of his influence. As a result, Hooker became known as an opponent of the puritan party, which was trying to infiltrate the Church of England and abolish the episcopate and Prayer Book. In 1585 he was appointed master of the Temple by the archbishop of York.

The Temple Church became the scene of a celebrated theological controversy. Hooker preached for the Established Church and his rival for the mastership, the reader Walter Travers, spoke for the thoroughgoing Calvinists. When the controversy moved from sermons to a series of tracts, Hooker felt obliged to treat the matter at greater length and was given a quiet country parish in Boscombe and later another benefice in Bishopsbourne. During this period appeared five volumes of his famous work, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (v. 14 in 1594, v. 5 in 1597). Volumes 6 and 8, suspected of revision by Hooker's widow and Puritans, appeared in 1648; volume 7, by Bishop John Gauden of Worcester, appeared in 1662. This work, which showed the way later followed by the caroline divines, became the quasi-official apologia of the Church of England and influenced almost every position within Anglicanism. Hooker's brilliant analysis of natural law has had a profound effect on subsequent political theorists. As a work of art, it stands as the first great original masterpiece of English prose.

The problem facing the Church of England was the claim of thoroughgoing Calvinists that the pattern of Geneva was the only legitimate one for a reformed church. Those who maintained this position held that only Presbyterian polity had the warrant of Scripture and that Anglican worship was vitiated by the "dregs of Popery." The Puritans were encouraged in their hopes for further reform by the instability of the Anglican Church in its early years; they found much support for their position among those most influential in Church and State, that is, Leicester, Walsingham, and Archbishop Grindal.

Doctrinal Presuppositions. The ground taken by Hooker had previously been covered by Archbishop J. whitgift, but less thoroughly, and from an essentially Calvinist position that prevented any critical examination of the Puritan presuppositions. The virtue of Hooker's work was that it moved the whole issue to the higher ground of general principles and worked out a rationale for the Elizabethan settlement.

While agreeing with the Calvinists that Scripture was the ultimate source of authority, Hooker maintained that it was not a complete body of positive law governing every aspect of the life of the church. In matters of polity or worship, he found the Bible often ambiguous or silent and insisted that patristic tradition must be consulted to clarify the situation. In those details where tradition was also ambiguous or silent, he was convinced that the common understanding of reasonable men could be relied upon; when conclusions were reached in this manner, he required no explicit scriptural authority, but held that it was sufficient that the results should not be contrary to the Bible. By means of this analysis, he justified episcopacy and the Book of Common Prayer as both reasonable in themselves and congruous with Holy Writ.

In the course of this argument, it was necessary for him to demonstrate the reliability of reason, and this he did by relating it to natural theology. In so doing, he rejected the Augustinianism, or voluntarism, prevalent in the churches of the Reformation and based his theories upon Thomas Aquinas and the scholastics. Thus he saw reason as grounded in God Himself, and he could look upon the episcopate as divinely ordered even if its origin were to be found in the Apostles or in the church as a whole. The church, he said, had made use of reason to develop her tradition, and the episcopacy was a providential element of the constitution of the church, not an element of divine law.

Church and State. Hooker showed some concern to maintain the integrity of the Church with respect to the State. He granted the Church a juridical autonomy to determine her rites and ceremonies, but not complete autonomy in her own sphere. He saw Church and State as

divinely ordered aspects of one society and united the two in an unstable equilibrium on the theories of marsilius of padua. The monarch, as head of the State, was head of the Church, though without any spiritual power. The exigencies of the Elizabethan establishment prevented the resolution of the problem in other ways that might have been more consistent with Hooker's earlier volumes and more congenial to him personally. He is credited with determining the Anglican via media between Calvin and Rome, as well as the cosmic orientation of Anglican theology. His denial of transubstantiation may be viewed as linked with his denial of complete autonomy for the Church.

Hooker restored the idea of natural law and sought to harmonize it (or reason) with revelation. The supernatural law of Holy Scripture, he said, is only part of God's law and requires knowledge of the natural law to be understood. He also sought to harmonize the two sources of the State: nature, (i.e., God); and the social compact (his notion of which is less individualistic than that of locke). He rejects the theories of resistance and tyrannicide, emphasizing the divine origin of power more than its human origin.

Bibliography: Works, ed. r. w. church and f. paget, 3 v. (7th ed. Oxford 1888). l. s. thornton, R. Hooker: A Study of His Theology (London 1924). e. t. davies, The Political Ideas of R. Hooker (London 1946). f. j. shirley, R. Hooker and Contemporary Political Ideas (London 1949). p. s. schÜtz, R. Hooker, der grundlegende Theologie des Anglikanismus (Göttingen 1952). p. munz, The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought (London 1952). j. s. marshall, Hooker's Theology of Common Prayer (Sewanee 1956). a. passerin d'entrÈves, Medieval Contribution to Political Thought (New York 1959). y. congar, Catholicisme 5:935937. g. hillerdal, Reason and Revelation in R. Hooker (Lund 1962).

[r. h. greenfield]

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Hooker, Richard

HOOKER, RICHARD

HOOKER, RICHARD (15541600), was an apologist and theologian of the Church of England, famous for his work Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (hereafter cited as Laws ). Born at Heavitree near Exeter, Hooker received his basic education in the Exeter Grammar School. His parents could not afford more advanced schooling for him, but his uncle took the boy to see Bishop John Jewel of Salisbury (15601571), who agreed to be his patron and arranged for his admission as a clerk at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1568. His tutor was Dr. John Rainolds (15491604), a leader of the moderate Puritans at the university.

Hooker received his B.A. in 1574 and his M.A. in 1577. He was made a fellow of the college and a lecturer in Hebrew, and in 1581 he was ordained. His wide learning, gentle disposition, and genuine piety were admired at Oxford. Among his pupils two became lifelong friends and advisers in the writing of the Laws: Edwin Sandys, son of Bishop Edwin Sandys of London (15701576; archbishop of York, 15761588), and George Cranmer, grandnephew of Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury (15331556).

In December 1584 Hooker received the living of Drayton Beauchamp, Buckinghamshire, but a few months later he was appointed master of the Temple in London. He was soon involved in bitter controversy with Walter Travers, the afternoon lecturer at the Temple, who was a noted Puritan of presbyterian views and ordination. Instead of living in the master's house, which was in disrepair and partly occupied by Travers, Hooker took lodging in the nearby home of John Churchman, a prosperous member of the Merchant Taylors' Company and a friend of Sandys. In February 1588, Hooker married Churchman's daughter Joan, who bore him two sons (both of whom died in infancy) and four daughters.

Hooker resigned from the Temple in 1591 and was given the living of Boscombe, near Salisbury. It is doubtful if he was ever resident there, for he was already writing the Laws in the Churchmans' home, where he lived with his growing family. There also Sandys, who had entered Parliament, and Cranmer could easily confer with him about the work. In 1595, Hooker moved with his family to a living in Bishopsbourne, near Canterbury. He remained there, except for frequent visits to London, until his death on November 2, 1600.

In the preface to the Laws, Hooker outlined the themes of his eight projected books and made clear the purpose of the work. It was a defense, based on scripture, the tradition of the church, and reason, of Queen Elizabeth's settlement of the Church of England against the radical Puritans. The latter sought to overthrow the settlement by abolishing the royal supremacy, episcopacy, and The Book of Common Prayer and to substitute a presbyterian system of church government and discipline modeled on Calvin's church at Geneva.

Because Hooker had difficulty finding a publisher, Sandys contracted with a printer, John Windet, Hooker's cousin, to produce the work. Sandys agreed to bear the entire cost. Archbishop John Whitgift of Canterbury gave his license, and the preface and first four books were issued in early March 1593. The publication, as Sandys had hoped and planned, came just before the opening of Parliament to consider (and pass) the Act to Retain the Queen's Subjects in Obedience, a stringent ruling against all who refused to attend the Church of England's services or who were "present at any unlawful assemblies, conventicles, or meetings, under colour or pretence of any exercise of religion."

Book 5, much longer than the others, appeared in 1597. Hooker completed drafts of the last three books before his death. They were not published for many yearsbooks 6 and 8 in 1648 and the complete work, with book 7, in 1662. Their authenticity, often questioned, is now generally accepted. A large portion of the beginning of book 6 has been lost, although notes on it by Sandys and Cranmer are extant, and Hooker's manuscript pages of book 8 were left in some disorder.

Books 14 deal with laws in general: the divine law of God himself, the immutable natural law implanted by God in creation, and the positive law of human societies. Yet human reason, impaired by the fall but assisted by divine revelation and grace, can understand the natural law and be guided in positive law according to times, circumstances, and experience. No positive law is perfect, but it is always reformable.

Against the radical Puritans, Hooker argued that the scriptures were not self-authenticating. Their authority had been determined by the church. Nor did the scriptures contain a detailed ordering of the governance and worship of the church, but only its basic principles. These principles were different from the unchanging and essential revelation for faith and salvation. On the basis of scriptural principle, Hooker defended in book 5 the rites and customs of The Book of Common Prayer and in book 6 its mode of penitential discipline.

In book 7 he based episcopacy not on any divine institution but on the universal practice of the church since apostolic times. Book 8 on the royal supremacy is cautiously ambivalent. Hooker defended on scriptural grounds the necessity of obedience to constituted civil authority by the consent of the people. In his England, as in ancient Israel, civil and ecclesiastical societies were coextensive. He was aware, however, that the Crown had used its prerogatives to limit the church's freedom in ordering its own internal life.

Hooker's extensive and erudite documentation of his arguments, the richly textured eloquence of his style, and his openness to reforms in the Church of England have made his work a constant resource in the later development of Anglican theology. His political philosophy has been judged as both a conservative apology for the status quo and a liberal critique of the Elizabethan church. He has been acclaimed as the first major prose writer in modern English literature. Yet his lasting legacy has been his appeal to reason in the interpretation of scripture, the church's government, and worship.

Bibliography

The standard text is that edited by John Keble, The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker, With an Account of his Life and Death by Isaac Walton (1838), 3 vols., 7th ed., revised by R. W. Church and F. Paget (1888; reprint, New York, 1970). Another edition is The Folger Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker, edited by William S. Hill (Cambridge, Mass., 19771998). For an introduction to this edition, see Studies in Richard Hooker: Essays Preliminary to an Edition of His Works, edited by William S. Hill (Cleveland, 1972), with an extensive annotated bibliography.

Charles J. Sisson's The Judicious Marriage of Mr. Hooker and the Birth of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (Cambridge, U.K., 1940), by researches into parish, chancery, and other records, effectively questions and revises many statements in Isaac Walton's famous Life and opens new insights into the publication of the Laws and the fate of Hooker's posthumous manuscripts.

An important Anglican interpretation, which errs in an attempt to make the Laws a summa of Anglican theology, is John S. Marshall's Hooker and the Anglican Tradition: An Historical and Theological Study of Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity (Sewanee, Tenn., 1963). Robert K. Faulkner's Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England (Berkeley, Calif., 1981) gives a fresh reading of the Laws.

Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. (1987)

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