The James Henley Thornwell Collection (10 vols.) contains 4,400 pages of rich history and Southern Presbyterian doctrine. Thornwell was a leading figure in the beginnings of the Southern Presbyterian church and a contemporary of another well-known Southern Presbyterian theologian, Robert Lewis Dabney. His writings and published sermons document the beginnings of the Southern branch of the Presbyterian Church, and they also contain a keen insight into American history before the Civil War up to 1862, when the Civil War was in full force. An excellent collection for historians, theologians, laity, professors, and students, the ten volumes of Thornwell’s writings continue to inspire all who read them.
Professor Eugene Genovese describes Thornwell as wanting “to envision a Christian society that could reconcile, so far as possible in a world haunted by evil, the conflicting claims of a social order with social justice and both with the freedom and dignity of the individual.” These ideas shine through in Thornwell’s writings, which are now more accessible than ever through Logos Bible Software. In electronic format, his writings are easily searchable and easily referenced—his works in Logos make the ideal companion to theological studies.
In the classroom, Thornwell’s pupils regarded him as without an equal. The accuracy of his knowledge, together with its wide range made him, without doubt, the most illuminating instructor of his time in theological and philosophical subjects. His writings upon these themes, moreover, have come down to us to bear witness to the depth of his understanding. As a preacher of the gospel, however, more than in any other respect, Thornwell stood supreme in his own generation.
Thornwell was an early-mid 19th century Southern Presbyterian who might have been the single most influential theologian in organizing the Southern Presbyterian Church.
James Henley Thornwell, born in 1812, was a Southern Presbyterian minister from South Carolina. He was a professor both at South Carolina College and Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Columbia, and penned many theological essays throughout his life. A contemporary of Robert Lewis Dabney and Charles Hodge, he founded the Southern Presbyterian Review and was one of the leading figures in the establishment of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America. Thornwell was highly involved with the current day’s political situation—a vocal proponent of slavery and supporter of the South during the Civil War. He died in 1862 after a long battle with tuberculosis.