The Work Of Joseph Estlin Carpenter In The Field Of Comparative Religion

Marshall, Dennis Vernon (2001). The Work Of Joseph Estlin Carpenter In The Field Of Comparative Religion. MPhil thesis The Open University.



This thesis examines how Joseph Estlin Carpenter (1844-1927) used his skills in Comparative Religion to propagate a distinctive evolutionary scheme that elevated his own Unitarian Christianity.

1. The introductory chapter looks at Carpenter’s life and career and explores some of the written and human sources of inspiration for his Comparative Religion work.

2. Chapter 2 begins with an exploration of the trends and authorities in nineteenth century Unitarianism in both Britain and the USA. Carpenter’s Christianity is then examined in depth with a consideration of the different emphases at the different stages of his career.

3. The next chapter considers how Carpenter understood the theory of evolution. Different ways of how Carpenter applied the theory are examined. This is followed by an examination of the criteria he used to determine the evolutionary status of the religions.

4. In Chapter 4, a closer examination is made of Carpenter’s assessment of Buddhism and how it was presented in the light of his criteria for advanced evolutionary status.

5. Chapter 5 explores Carpenter’s work in relation to Hinduism and how he assessed the religion by application of his evolutionary assessment criteria.

6. The final chapter assesses the intelligibility of Carpenter’s evolutionary scheme, his contribution to the inter-faith movement, his contribution to Comparative Religion and his contribution to Unitarian thought.

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