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The Attributes of God

1924 to 1925
University of St. Andrews

In his The Attributes of God, Lewis Farnell characterizes himself as interested in mediaeval theology, as a positivist, and as someone guided by the spirit of comparative religion. His task is to discover the origins which may influence religious faith and how changing attributes ascribed to divine nature evolved. In his first section, Farnell studies the early emergence of theism. The author shows that although there has been an overall linear progression form polytheism to monotheism, polytheistic elements often remain embedded in higher religions.

The second half of his book is devoted to the more positive attributes of God: political, moral and attributes of beauty, wisdom and truth. Farnell returns to the Hellenic city-state where society reached fruition. Morality is examined and found to have a long history, from a vindictive God to a God of justice. At the end of the book, in discussing aesthetics, Lewis Richard Farnell states his personal belief that ‘the philosopher and the philosophic life is the personality and the life nearest and dearest to God’. ‘Contemplation above the moral and practical brings men nearer to the divine ideal.’


The Attributes of God

Clarendon Press
  • David Kahan, University of Glasgow