This book examines the career of a significant but routinely overlooked figure in American religious and intellectual history, William Rainey Harper. The first president of the University of Chicago, Harper was one of the handful of university builders who helped give American higher education its distinctive character during the late nineteenth century. In addition to being a university builder, however, Harper was a leader of a biblical studies movement which sought to introduce critical biblical scholarship to the American public. Through a variety of institutions and publications, incuding his own journal, The Biblical World, Harper attempted to make the Sacred Scriptures accessible to Americans who were experiencing all the dislocations of moderninity. Harper’s many and varied endeavors were integrated and propelled by a sense that he was advancing “missionary work.” The nature of that work—its sources, its expressions, and its fate—are the subject of this book.
James P. Wind is director of Research and Publications at The Park Ridge Center in Park Ride, Illinois, and Editor of Second Opinion.