UU Minute #105

Theodore Parker, part 2

Theodore Parker, after reading the entire Harvard curriculum on his own, started an academy in Watertown, which he ran and taught at for 3 years. In Watertown, he met and became engaged to Lydia Dodge Cabot, youngest child of a wealthy Unitarian family. We last mentioned Watertown in UU Minute #78, about Lydia Maria Francis Child. Her brother, Convers Francis, was the Unitarian minister in Watertown. It was Convers Francis who introduced Theodore Parker to the new methods of Biblical analysis being developed in Germany.

Parker, now able to pay the tuition, attended Harvard Divinity school from 1834 to 1836. For a time, he was teaching himself to read a new language every month, and claimed a reading knowledge of 20 languages before leaving Divinity School.

In 1837, he was called to serve the Unitarian Church in West Roxbury and that year began attending meetings of a group that would later be called the Transcendentalist club. Members included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Elizabeth Peabody and, indeed, most of the literary lights of the Boston area. Parker would contribute numerous articles and reviews to the club’s periodical, The Dial.

Meanwhile, Parker was gaining notice around Boston for his intelligent, eloquent, heartfelt sermons. His theology, however, made him an increasingly controversial figure. Following the German Biblical scholars he had been studying, Theodore Parker came to see Old Testament miracles neither as factual, nor to be dismissed as legends. Rather, they were poetic expressions of ancient Jewish piety with profound symbolic meaning.

Then Parker came to hold the same true of New Testament miracles.

More on Theodore Parker’s emerging theology in our next thrilling episode.

NEXT: Theodore Parker, part 3

No comments:

Post a Comment