In 1883, an obituary in a Natal paper remarked that Natal was best known in the world through Bishop Colenso. In terms of total public impact it is even conceivable that Colenso was the best known member of the Victorian episcopate.

His early tracts con­ taining a strategy for a gradual Christian penetration of South East Africa linked to Shepstone’s plans for a personal paramountcy beyond the colony, are one of the most remarkable missionary manifestos of the period. His published view that polygynous Africans should not put away their wives before baptism provoked furious, if largely local, reaction. He became an outstanding Zulu linguist and translator.

The mortal combat with his “metropolitan”, Robert Gray of Cape Town, brought him notoriety with the British public; the arcane proceedings of ecclesiastical law did not usually, in the Victorian era, involve the excommunication by one bishop of another for heresy. Both on jurisdiction and on his legal right as a bishop to hold and express his published views Colenso won the battle but lost the war; in the former case this facilitated constitutional developments that were permanently to affect the shape of the Anglican communion.

The “heresies” which had originally disturbed Gray were compounded by Colenso’s famous volumes on Old Testament criticism, which arrested the attention of people not greatly exercised by univer­ salism or the exact limits of the royal supremacy. In his last decade, overworked, understaffed, constantly betrayed, his ramshackle diocese starved of resources, the brave schemes of the 1850s turned to ashes, the man who had faced so much anger from churchmen consistently defied the British South African administration in the name of justice.

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THE HERETIC : A Study of the Life of John William Colenso 1814-1883

All pages yellowed; 1 crease down spine 378pp incl index; frontis, 3 maps, 6 b&w photos plus 1 in text.
Bookseller Inventory #: 12458
Author: GUY, JEFF
Format/binding: Soft Card Cover.
Book condition: Used – Very Good in Plastic
Quantity available: 1
Edition: First Edition.
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Ravan / University of Natal,
Place: Pietermaritzburg
Date published: 1983
Keywords: Missionary Work, Anglican Church, Church of England in South Africa, Bible Study, Theophilus Shepstone, Book of Genesis, Exodus,
Bookseller catalogs: Africana; Biography;
Size: 214x25p07mm