Frederic William Farrar | Free Online Biblical Library

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Frederic William Farrar

1831-1903. Dean of Canterbury. Born in India of missionary parents, he went to school at King William's College, Isle of Man. There the religious teaching was strongly evangelical, and Farrar was to write about it in his best-selling school story Eric; or Little by Little (1858). He studied at King's College, London, where he was influenced by F.D. Maurice,* and after graduation and ordination was a schoolmaster until his mid-forties. He had a tremendous influence on the Victorian middle classes in both religious and cultural matters. His Life of Christ (1874) went through twelve editions in a year, and his Life and Works of St. Paul (1879) also had a great vogue.

Much controversy was aroused by his Eternal Hope (1878), a collection of sermons in which he questioned the doctrine of eternal punishment for the wicked. A particular adversary here was E.B. Pusey.* Farrar was to modify his position somewhat in Mercy and Judgment (1881). In 1882 he preached at Charles Darwin's funeral. It was held that Farrar's broad outlook long hindered his ecclesiastical promotion, but eventually, after having been a royal chaplain and canon of Westminster, he was appointed dean of Canterbury, which post he held for the last eight years of his life. Farrar was a pioneer in introducing into modern education some of the results of philological research, for which he was, on Darwin's nomination, elected in 1866 as a Fellow of the Royal Society-an honor not accorded to many modern churchmen.