The Early English Baptists, 1603-49

March 2006
288 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843831952
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC REL073000, REL033000

The Early English Baptists, 1603-49

Stephen Wright

A fresh examination of the Baptist movement, showing its growth and development to be more complex than hitherto assumed.
This book challenges the orthodoxy that seventeenth-century Baptists were divided from the first into two separate denominations, 'Particular' and 'General', defined by their differing attitudes to predestination and the atonement, showing how the position was in fact much more complicated. It describes how from the foundation of the 'Generals' in 1609 there were always two tendencies, one clericalist and pacifist, influenced by the Dutch Mennonites, and one reflecting the English traditions of erastianism and local lay predominance in religion. It re-analyses the confessional struggle during and after the civil war, showing how Independent and erastian sentiment in Parliament increasingly combined to baulk Presbyterian ambition; during and partly because of this process (which they also influenced), the Baptists evolved into three recognisable tendencies. Amongst General Baptists there was a politically radical current, but also a more passive tendency which was starting to gain ground. In 1647-9 most but by no means all Particular Baptist leaders were hostile to the Levellers. The book looks at the nature of religious conviction in the New Model Army, reassessing the role and influence of Baptists in it. In the late 40s, many Baptists, soldiers and civilians, rejected formal ordinances altogether.
STEPHEN WRIGHT received his Ph.D. from the University of London. He has been visiting lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire and the University of North London.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781846154638), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


In addition to a detailed analysis of some of the key documents for early Baptist history, the book contains in both the text and the appendices a wealth of biographical information on members of individual congregations. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
This substantial new study of early English Baptists is full of fresh insights and perspectives. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
Exhaustive, detailed and persuasive. SOUTHWESTERN JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY
The best, most reliable, history of the early Baptists. PATRICK COLLINSON, ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
Sets a high standard for meticulous scholarship that advances new and persuasive theories for a foundational time period in Baptist history. [...] Stephen Wright's work is exhaustive, detailed, and persuasive. BAPTIST THEOLOGY, SW BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
This important book deserves to be read widely and its results incorporated into the way the story of early Baptists is told. THE EXPOSITORY TIMES
A well documented historical reassessment of the place these believers held in the early Stuart era. [...] [This] work will hopefully lead to further studies of the early English Baptists. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY
Offers an in-depth reading of the primary and secondary sources of English Baptist origins and provides several provocative revisions to standard treatments of the era. BAPTIST HISTORY & HERITAGE
Demonstrate[s] the rich diversity characteristic of Baptist belief in the period and the complex inter-relationships between different leaders, congregations, and thus offers an important contribution to a fuller understanding of the English Revolution. JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS HISTORY
Wright's volume is very much to be welcomed moving as it does beyond the traditional debates. REVIEWS IN HISTORY
A significant contribution to our understanding about how Baptists developed in the 1640s and why they belonged to differing factions. [...] For anyone seriously interested in looking at Baptists beginnings in seventeenth-century England, Dr Wright has set down a challenge which cannot be ignored. BAPTIST QUARTERLY
A most impressive and well-argued work. BAPTIST UNION OF SCOTLAND NEWS
This erudite work must be read by those interested in the origins of the Baptist traditions. CONGREGATIONAL HISTORY CIRCLE MAGAZINE