A Field the Lord hath Blessed
: the Person, Works, Life and Polemical Ecclesiology of Richard Field, DD, 1561‐1616

  • Vernon Wilkins

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Richard Field, DD, 1561-1616, has been described in modern times as ‘one of the most stupendously learned’ amongst theologians of his age; in his own time he was hugely admired too, by King James, by protestant (and some Roman Catholic) academic theologians and by neighbours and family. He wrote one published work, Of the Church, Five Bookes, a substantial systematic ecclesiology of 700,000 words. He preached many sermons, but only one was ever printed. He was overlooked for preferment until too late. But attention to him in the scholarly world has been comparatively minimal. Until recently no major study has been made of him, although numerous scholars have mined his work piecemeal for quotations on various doctrines, or, occasionally, aspects of his ecclesiology. Only in this century has there appeared a substantial study prior to this one, and it also is devoted substantially to certain aspects of Field’s doctrinal understanding rather than to his ecclesiology as a whole.
This study attempts to redress further this lack of attention to the ecclesiology of this largely forgotten divine. Field the scholar-churchman is introduced with a brief biography and assessment of his erudition, and then an examination of his worth in relation to two of his predecessors. Then the second section of the study analyses his one published sermon, and then his systematic ecclesiology. Particular attention is given to Field’s protestant ‘notes’ of the church, defended in contrast to the notes of Cardinal Bellarmine, and to his conception of ministerial orders and bishops. Following this, in the third section of the study, Field is set in the context of his own time, analysing a sample of how Field was received in his own day, and latterly. The conclusion of the study is that Field is of substantial importance, and warrants continued study today.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorJon Balserak (Supervisor)

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