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Science and Salvation

Evangelical Popular Science Publishing in Victorian Britain

Science and Salvation

Evangelical Popular Science Publishing in Victorian Britain

Threatened by the proliferation of cheap, mass-produced publications, the Religious Tract Society issued a series of publications on popular science during the 1840s. The books were intended to counter the developing notion that science and faith were mutually exclusive, and the Society’s authors employed a full repertoire of evangelical techniques—low prices, simple language, carefully structured narratives—to convert their readers. The application of such techniques to popular science resulted in one of the most widely available sources of information on the sciences in the Victorian era.

A fascinating study of the tenuous relationship between science and religion in evangelical publishing, Science and Salvation examines questions of practice and faith from a fresh perspective. Rather than highlighting works by expert men of science, Aileen Fyfe instead considers a group of relatively undistinguished authors who used thinly veiled Christian rhetoric to educate first, but to convert as well. This important volume is destined to become essential reading for historians of science, religion, and publishing alike.

432 pages | 38 halftones, 8 line drawings, 7 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2004

History: British and Irish History, General History

History of Science

Library Science and Publishing: Publishing

Religion: Religion and Society


"Fyfe has written an original and highly stimulating study that elucidates the fascinating ways in which evangelicals sought to embrace science on their own terms and to serve their own purposes. . . . Fyfe deepens our knowledge of the Victorian world and convincingly demolishes stereotypes of disengaged or disputatious evangelicals. Science and Salvation is replete with interesting episodes and thought-provoking asides. . . . Well researched, intriguing and rewarding."

William J. Astore | Endeavour

"Fyfe’s book has the same satisfying appeal as the detailed and illuminating works on popular reception of such leaders in the field of the history of nineteenth century science as Adrian Desmond and James Secord."

Timothy Larsen | The Library

"One of the great merits of this book is to provide insights into ordinary people and popular conceptions of science. These are critically important for an understanding of the wider place of science in society."

Colin A. Russell | Notes & Records of the Royal Society

"What makes Fyfe’s study so outstanding is that she does not just address the ideological issues but examines how the evangelicals of the RTS practically addressed the problems they faced."

Frank A.J.L. James | Journal of Religion

"For the student of Victorian publishing, Victorian religion, andVictorian science, this book is an essential read."

David Knight | Sharp News

"Fyfe’s close study enables her to contribute significantly to the historical trend away from theologically based armchair debates over science and religion."

Roger Cooter | American Historical Review

"[Science and Salvation] manages to achieve something that is quite remarkable in a field that has been so thoroughly picked over--it reveals new characters, new stories, and new truths about the wonderfully Byzantiner religious context of nineteenth-century Victorian science."

Matthew Day | Church History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
The Threat of Popular Science
Christian Knowledge
Reading Fish
The Techniques of Evangelical Publishing
The Ministry of the Press
Reinterpreting Science
Appendix A: Biographical Sketches of RTS Writers and Staff
Appendix B: Volumes of the "Monthly Series"

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