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Elmer Gantry Historical Context

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Historical Context

Fundamentalism

Protestant fundamentalism was in part a reaction in the early twentieth century to the development of the "higher criticism" in Biblical scholarship. Higher criticism was a method of Biblical criticism that originated in Germany. It applied the methods of historical and literary analysis in order to determine the authorship, date and place of composition of the books of the Bible. Higher criticism also showed that some elements in the Bible were also found in other religions and mythologies (the virgin birth, for example). This tended to undermine the uniqueness of Christianity and the literal interpretation of the Bible. Traditionalists, therefore, rejected the new approach of liberal theology. In the novel, when Elmer takes up his first appointment in a small-town Methodist church, one of the first questions the fundamentalist trustees asks him is, "Do any monkeying with this higher criticism?" Against the tide of modernist thought that...

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This section contains 556 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Elmer Gantry Study Guide
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Elmer Gantry from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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