George Smeaton (1814-1889) and his Novum Organum: Biblical Theology and Reformed Orthodoxy

Longwe, Andrew Gideon Howard (2020) George Smeaton (1814-1889) and his Novum Organum: Biblical Theology and Reformed Orthodoxy. MTh(R) thesis, University of Glasgow in partnership with Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

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This thesis seeks to retrieve the invaluable and erudite contribution made by Professor George Smeaton (1814-1889) in his much-overlooked magnum opus, The Doctrine of the Atonement, As Taught by Christ Himself (1868). In previous assessments of Smeaton’s theology, it has been claimed that it was a ‘ground-breaking work’ and a ‘novum organum of theology’ because of the new method he applied to the study of the atonement.
This thesis wants to ask the following questions: what was Smeaton’s new method? Was it a ‘novum organum of theology’? Was it a ‘ground-breaking’ contribution to the study of the atonement in Scotland? Did his application of this new method to the study of the atonement contradict or cohere with his classical Reformed orthodoxy?
The thesis is divided into five chapters. Chapter one presents a biographical sketch of Smeaton’s life; highlighting the various aspects which led him to become a Reformed orthodox Biblical scholar. Chapter two presents an overview of the relevant developments which took place within Smeaton’s ecclesiastical and theological milieu; highlighting the various factors which shaped his interest in the atonement and Biblical studies. It also gives an overview of the leading theological methods applied to the doctrine of the atonement in Scotland prior to 1868. The evidence will enable us to establish whether or not his method was ground-breaking. Chapter three examines Smeaton’s Biblical theological method and how he applied it to his study of Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement. Chapter four examines his key theological postulates which ultimately shaped and informed his Biblical theological study of the atonement. The evidence will enable us to establish whether or not his application of the method contradicts or coheres with Reformed orthodoxy. The final chapter will summarise the various conclusions which have arisen from our discussion. In short it will argue that in Scotland Smeaton pioneered a ‘novum organum of theology’ by applying the Biblical theological method to the study of the atonement. Although it was both a bold and ironic innovation in his context; his application of this new method cohered with his loyalty to the classical Reformed orthodox tradition.

Item Type: Thesis (MTh(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: George Smeaton, Free Church of Scotland, Reformed Orthodoxy, Biblical Theology, Nineteenth Century.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Ferguson, Dr. Sinclair
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Rev Andrew Longwe
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81295
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 May 2020 08:43
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2022 13:44
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81295

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