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Plumptre, Reverend Edward

Category: Religious

 

Edward Hayes Plumptre (6 August 1821 – 1 February 1891) was an English theologian, poet, and scholar born in London.

He wrote much on the interpretation of scripture. He contributed to the commentaries known respectively as the Cambridge Bible, the Speaker's Commentary, that edited by Bishop Ellicott, and the Bible Educator. He also wrote Biblical Studies, 1870 (3rd edit. 1885), St. Paul in Asia (1877), a Popular Exposition of the Epistles to the Seven Churches (1877 and 1879), Movements in Religious Thought: Romanism, Protestantism, Agnosticism (1879), and Theology and Life (1884).

Plumptre also published several volumes of verse. Lazarus and other poems appeared in 1864; Master and scholar, which was warmly praised in the Westminster Review, in 1866; and Things New and Old in 1884. Several of Plumptre's hymns were admitted into popular collections.  He also translated ‘with much success’ the plays of Sophocles (1865) and of Æschylus (1868), and thus gave readers 'ignorant of Greek some adequate conception of the masterpieces of Attic drama'. For twenty years he studied Dante, and his English version of Dante's work appeared as The Divina Commedia and Canzoniere of Dante Alighieri; with Biographical Introduction, Notes and Essays.

But the reason Edward Hayes Plumptre is on the site is that his most remarkable work was The Spirits in Prison, and other studies on Life after Death (1884 and 1885).

The Spirits in Prison

The Spirits in Prison, and other studies on Life after Death  is based on a Sermon, preached at St. Paul's, on April 30th, 1871.   When the first edition of the book was published, Dr Plumptre said, in a short Prefatory Note that he " hoped before long to show that nothing I had said on the question discussed in it had been said hastily, and that there were ample grounds for every statement I had made …"

 

The Spirits in Prison, and other studies on Life after Death  is described as a work of Eschatology. The word arises from the Greek ἔσχατος eschatos meaning "last" and -logy meaning "the study of", and was first used in English around 1844. The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as "the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind".  It is largely a mystic concept, as it incorporates acceptance of the Great Work, of Destiny and even reincarnation.

History is divided into "ages" -  increments or configurations each of which have some overall objective. 

 

As one age comes to an end,  a new age or increment takes over when different realities are present. When such transitions from one age to another are the subject of eschatological discussion, the phrase, "end of the world", is replaced by "end of the age", "end of an era", or "end of life as we know it". It is not apocalyptic in the sense of total destruction doom and death, but a transition between ages [yugas] where destruction must take place to enable a new age to start.

For a very traditional Church of England cleric to be interested in this, something had to have happened and indeed it did.  When Dr. Plumptre was Primate of Wells, he wrote in The Spectator of August 26, 1882 of an event which had clearly had some effect on him

 Lagniez, June 10-th.

In April, 1854, the mother of one of the greatest thinkers and theologians of our time was on her death bed and had been in almost unconscious conditions for several days. But, a few moments before she died, she waved her lips and managed to mutter distinctly: "There is William, there is Elizabeth, there is Emma and Anna." Then, after a pause: "Here is Priscilla too!" William was one of her sons, who died in his early childhood, and whose name had not returned to his mother's lips for many years. As for Priscilla, she had died two days earlier. But the news of the sad event, although known to the family, was unknown to the patient.


Life

Plumptre was born on 6 August 1821, being the son of Edward Hallows Plumptre, a London solicitor. He was educated at home, and after a brief stay at King's College, London, entered Oxford as a scholar of University College, Oxford, of which his uncle, Frederick Charles Plumptre (1796–1870), was master from 1836 till his death. In 1844, he took a double first-class, alone in mathematics, and in classics with Sir George Bowen, Dean Bradley, and E. Poste. He was elected to a fellowship at Brasenose College, which he resigned three years afterwards, on his marriage with Harriet Theodosia.

 

He was ordained in 1847, by Bishop Wilberforce, he proceeded M.A. in 1847, and joined the staff of King's College London. There his work mainly lay for twenty-one years, and he enlarged the scope of the institution by introducing evening classes. From 1847 to 1868, he was chaplain there, from 1853 to 1863 professor of pastoral theology, and from 1864 to 1881 professor of exegesis. He proved a most sympathetic teacher, and took a genuine interest in the future welfare of his pupils. He also took a leading part in promoting the higher education of women as a professor of Queen's College, Harley Street, where he held the office of principal during the last two years of his work there (1875–77).

Throughout this period he was also occupied in clerical work. From 1851 to 1858, he was assistant preacher at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1863 prebendary of St. Paul's. He was rector of Pluckley from 1869 and of Bickley from 1873. He was Boyle lecturer in 1866, and the lectures were afterwards published under the title of 'Christ and Christendom.' From 1869 to 1874, he was a member of the Old Testament revision committee, and from 1872 to 1874 Grinfield lecturer and examiner at Oxford.

In 1881, he resigned his work in London on becoming Dean of Wells.

Wikipedia
He was an ideal dean, possessing a genuine talent for business, and being always ready to consider the suggestions of others. Not only the cathedral and the Theological College, but the city of Wells, its hospital, its almshouse, and its workhouse, commanded his service.

Plumptre died on 1 February 1891 at the deanery of Wells, and was buried in the cathedral cemetery beside his wife, who had predeceased him on 3 April 1889. The marriage was childless.

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