The Eucharistic Theology of Edward Bouverie Pusey

Sources, Context and Doctrine within the Oxford Movement and Beyond


In The Eucharistic Theology of Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882 and Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University from 1828 to 1882), Brian Douglas offers a critical account of Pusey’s eucharistic theology set in the context of his life and work at Oxford and as the leader of the nineteenth century Oxford Movement. Pusey has often been characterised as conservative and obscurantist but in this book Douglas critically assesses Pusey’s eucharistic theology as a consistent expression of moderate realism which is both wise and creative. The book analyses Pusey’s extensive written output on eucharistic theology and ends with a reassessment of Pusey as a theologian, portraying him as a thinker owing much to Scripture, the early church Fathers, Anglican divines and philosophical reflection. Pusey is also seen to anticipate modern eucharistic theology. Reassessments of Pusey in the modern era are rare and this book contributes to a significant gap in the literature.

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Brian Douglas, Ph.D. (2006), University of Newcastle, Australia, is a Senior Lecturer in Theology at Charles Sturt University, Australia. He has published A Companion to Anglican Eucharistic Theology (Brill, 2012) and several other peer-reviewed articles on eucharistic theology.
"The focus in this book is on the core component of Christian worship, namely the Eucharist, and in doing so Douglas examines very perceptively the role that Biblical scholarship had played in the evolution of Pusey’s thought. (...) It is impossible not to be impressed by Douglas’ research. (...) By virtue of his expansive research, Douglas has put all others in his debt and written a work that should be required reading for all schools of thought in Anglicanism. This is because his diligent re-appraisal shows that Pusey was the product of a family whose ancestors in their religious practice were always focused on the Eucharist as the central form of Anglican worship."

John A. Moses, in Charles Sturt University

"The book is valuable for two reasons: it takes Pusey seriously as a man and as a scholar; and it presents to the reading public an account of a wide selection of his theological works, many of which will be virtually unheard of by all but the most hardened Pusey fanatics. Much of Pusey’s printed output consisted of new editions of classic works of theology, long forgotten or never heard of by the Church of England. There is therefore a pleasing symmetry to the fact that part of the value of Douglas’s book lies in its potential to make Pusey’s work available to new audiences. The central chapters of the book, which deal with the nuts and bolts of Pusey’s Eucharistic theology, provide a valuable introduction to aspects of his thought, whilst the opening and closing chapters give him his proper due as a priest and theologian of stature."

Ian McCormack, Grimethorpe, U.K.

"This [theological] epistemology is one of three types of mediation that strike me as real contributions to Pusey scholarship in this book. First, Douglas traces to the Romantics the origins of an epistemology of God’s self-mediation to the world via typologies in Scripture and nature. Second, he stresses Pusey’s on-going mediation of German theology to an English-speaking audience. Third, he shows how Pusey’s ‘moderate realist’ view of the eucharist depended upon both his epistemology and some of what he learned in Germany. In this view, Christ is mediated to those who receive the eucharist by means of an objective spiritual (not bodily) presence in the consecrated bread and wine. Overall, this book shows the usefulness of Pusey’s eucharistic theology for today."

Benjamin J. King, The University of the South, Sewanee

"Among the leaders of the 19th century Oxford Movement it is Newman who has claimed centre stage in the 20th century, with influential ideas on doctrinal development, the role of the laity, and so on. By contrast, despite the high esteem in which he had been held during his life, by the second half of the twentieth century Pusey has come to be seen as an irrelevant reactionary. In an engaging and lively first volume that promises well for this new series on Anglican Theology and History, Brian Douglas effectively challenges that verdict. He does this not by denying that Newman is the clearer thinker or that on some issues Pusey cannot be defended but by persuasively arguing that there is a subtlety to Pusey’s thought that modern discussions have ignored. Simple answers like Newman’s have sometimes been bought at the cost of ignoring some of the rich, complex tapestry that is the Christian tradition. The result of Douglas’ labours is not only a persuasive re-evaluation of Pusey’s thoughts on the eucharist but also a powerful plea to re-introduce some of that subtlety into contemporary theological reflection."

David Brown, University of St Andrews

"Brian Douglas's careful reassessment of the eucharistic theology of Edward Bouverie Pusey nicely fills a gap in the available secondary treatments of historic Anglican theologies of the Eucharist. Douglas writes clearly and accessibly, and painstakingly reconstructs Pusey's distinctive eucharistic thought and piety from the existing sources. He is thus able to dispel a number of false or unsympathetic readings and to place Pusey in the tradition of 'moderate realism' that was already one of the classic options within Anglicanism. This is a timely study and is marked by careful and restrained scholarship."

Sarah Coakley, University of Cambridge
All interested in eucharistic theology and specifically the eucharistic theology of Edward Bouverie Pusey in the context of the Anglican tradition and the nineteenth century Oxford Movement.