Henry J. Cadbury : scholar, activist, disciple

by Margaret Hope Bacon

Pamphlet, 2005



Call number

CP 376/1


Wallingford, PA : Pendle Hill Publications, c2005.

User reviews

LibraryThing member kaulsu
Henry Joel Cadbury lived his entire life, in every aspect, with as much integrity as is humanly possible. He is remembered among Quakers for many things, uppermost for his adherence to the Peace Testimony, his work with the AFSC, and this bon mot: "Why must it be belief into action? Why not action into belief?"

Cadbury was a distinguished scholar of the New Testament, and was one of the translators of the Revised Standard Version. At the time he taught at Harvard Divintiy School, the student body there was quite "fundamentalist." Rather than try to change their theology, he taught the NT in a socratic manner, allowing students to read the books through their own experience and through the Spirit. He was a strong advocate for placing the New Testament in the context of the time it was written. It was important to ask WHY the gospel stories were told as they were. To understand that the gospel writers had a reason for how they told their stories. Then one can understand how the gospel can speak to us today.

Cadbury would affirm, but could not sign, the Loyalty Oath that the state of Massachusetts required of all teachers in 1935. In the end, he joined a group of other Massachusetts professors who opposed the oath. In lieu of the oath, the state agreed they could file papers expressing why they objected to it.

Cadbury was an advocate of "both/and" rather than "only."

At the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Moorestown (NJ) Meeting, Cadbury said, "Our critics cannot understand a religion whose genius is precisely the continuity of change. There is a living Christianity which not only in the middle of the First Century but also in the middle of the Twentieth 'turns the world upside down....' True independence does not rest on past-won emancipation, to settle down into smooth conformity. It must be continually on the alert lestit become the good that is the enemy of the best."

Cadbury had a deadpan, dry, wit. Quoting from an early Quaker journal that "We had a precious meeting," he would explain: "that means, I think, that he spoke." A page or two later, when the journal said, "We had a precious and blessed meeting," Cadbury explained that meant, "he spoke at some length." :-)

Cadbury exemplified Fox's injunction to "let your life speak." Quaker historian Kenneth Carroll said of Henry Cadbury: "To give the message you must be the message."
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LibraryThing member QuakerReviews
This is a very interesting biography of a great 20th century American Friend, a scholar of early Quakers and the New Testament, an activist for social justice, and a Quaker leader. Living from 1881 to 1974, he had a large impact on what American Quakerism is today.


0875743765 / 9780875743769

Local notes

Pendle Hill Pamphlet 376

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Call number

CP 376/1


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