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Daniel Rignall

History, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

The Authority of the Old Testament in Enlightenment Britain

My thesis examines the way that the Old Testament was read and interpreted in Britain during the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. 

Whilst recent scholarship has reassessed the religious dimension to eighteenth-century Britain, comparatively little has been done to explore the place of the Bible in the experience of eighteenth-century British Protestants.

Focussing on the figures of Moses and David, I look at the ways that these characters were interpreted, debated and deployed throughout the period by members of the clerical, political and cultural elite. I therefore study sermons, biblical commentaries, apologetic and polemical works, political tracts and popular literature to understand how these figures were perceived and discussed throughout the period. I want to get a sense of whether the Old Testament continued to have a role in public life in the eighteenth century and to what extent new Enlightenment thought and culture changed the way that Protestants interact with the Old Testament. 

Research Area

  • History
  • Religious History

Other Research Interests

- History of the Bible (history of interpretation, the 'Political Bible' etc.) 

- Historical theology

- Political history of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain 


MPhil in Early Modern History, University of Cambridge

BA (Hons) in History, King's College London