George Fox and early Quaker culture

Author: Hilary Hinds

What was distinctive about the founding principles and practices of Quakerism? This book explores how the Light Within became the organising principles of this seventeenth-century movement, inaugurating an influential dissolution of the boundary between the human and the divine. Taking an original perspective on this most enduring of radical religious groups, it combines literary and historical approaches to produce a fresh study of Quaker cultural practice. Close readings of George Fox's Journal are put in dialogue with the voices of other early Friends and their critics to argue that the ‘light within’ set the terms for the unique Quaker mode of embodying spirituality and inhabiting the world. This study of the cultural consequences of a bedrock belief shows how the Quaker spiritual self was premised on a profound continuity between sinful subjects and godly omnipotence. It will be of interest not only to scholars and students of seventeenth-century literature and history, but also to those concerned with the Quaker movement, spirituality and the changing meanings of religious practice in the early modern period.

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