James Nayler and the quest for historic Quaker identity

Euan David McArthur

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Scholars continue to dispute the foundations of Quakerism, with James Nayler and George Fox’s relation to him proving of particular interest. Conventionally, historians and theologians have taken either a ‘traditional’ approach which assesses Nayler by the standards of orthodoxy, or a ‘revisionist’ one which absolves him by the standards of early Quaker relativism and Christology. This study mediates between these positions, finding that Nayler and Fox developed an ambiguous theology, but adopted a consis- tent approach to Quaker performances. The latter dissuaded against performances such as Nayler’s ‘sign’ in 1656. Nayler is argued, instead, to have been led to antagonism with other Quaker leaders following increasingly personalized and corrosive modes of disputation over the years 1655 and 1656. The lessons his person and activities hold for us are concluded to be complex, but still worthy of study.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages105
ISBN (Electronic)9789004535886
ISBN (Print)9789004534438
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2024

Publication series

NameBrill research perspectives in humanities and social sciences
ISSN (Print)2542-4971
ISSN (Electronic)2542-498X


  • James Nayler
  • George Fox
  • Quakerism
  • Seventeenth-century England
  • English Civil War
  • British Civil Wars
  • Radical religion
  • Theology
  • Intellectual history


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