Winstanley and Baptist Thought

Ariel Hessayon
  • Prose Studies, January 2014, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/01440357.2014.914749

Winstanley and Baptist thought

What is it about?

I have suggested elsewhere that the outlines, if not the precise moments, of Winstanley’s spiritual journey can be reconstructed with confidence. Here I want to build on my own work together with John Gurney’s important recent studies by locating Winstanley within a milieu that makes his beliefs and subsequent practices explicable. For it appears that despite his undoubted gift for original thought, Winstanley did not always give credit where it was due.

Why is it important?

Of all the enigmas about Gerrard Winstanley, perhaps the greatest is how did a man of unremarkable origins come to articulate one of the most penetrating and damning critiques of his own society in such powerful and crafted prose? The answer to this question has as much to do with Winstanley’s spiritual progress and broadening intellectual horizons as with his increased engagement in local and national politics, which became more pronounced after the establishment of the Digger plantation.

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