Shedd is the author of the excellent Shedd's Dogmatic Theology, one of the top systematic studies in doctrine. This gook contains extended studies of many subjects, such as "The Nature of Sin;" "Clerical Education"; "Higher Criticism;" "Liberalism;" etc. It is an important book for both preachers and serious lay students of the doctrines of the Bible as applied to our current scene.
A big book (692 pp) of solid theology on a host of subjects by an excellent theologian.
Shedd, William Greenough Thayer (21 June 1820-17 Nov. 1894), theologian, was born in Acton, Massachusetts, the son of Marshall Shedd, a Congregational pastor, and Eliza Thayer, daughter of a wealthy Boston merchant. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 1839, he taught for a year in New York City and resolved to enter the ministry. He studied at Andover Theological Seminary, and following graduation in 1843 he served for two years as pastor of the Congregational church in Brandon, Vermont. He had been influenced in college by philosopher James Marsh, absorbing his teachers concern to balance emotion and reason in religion as well as his interests in Romanticism, the Cambridge Platonists, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was called back to the university as professor of English literature in 1845. He was married at that time to Ann Myers of Whitehall, New York; four children were born of the union.
Shedd's extensive literary knowledge, broadened in his seven years at the University of Vermont, was displayed in many of his later books, essays, and sermons, notably in his seven-volume edition of the works of Coleridge (1853). Andover seminary called him back to teach sacred rhetoric, 1852-1854; then he became professor of church history at the Presbyterian seminary at Auburn, New York, where he served for eight years. He returned briefly to pastoral duties at Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1862 and the next year was named professor of Bible at nearby Union Theological Seminary, becoming the first Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature two years later. He followed strictly the historical-philological method of his Andover teacher Moses Stuart, in which the precise meaning of the text was sought in its original setting, making use of new materials from philology and textual criticism.
In 1874 he was transferred to the Roosevelt Professorship of Systematic Theology, and it was in this role that he is especially remembered. He was honored for his sincerity, firm convictions, and adherence to truth as he saw it. As a systematician he was steeped in the patristic, medieval, and reformation periods and was especially influenced by Augustine and Calvin. His crowning work was Dogmatic Theology (3 vols., 1888-1894). As a Presbyterian he became a defender of the Old School position that the whole Bible was inspired and inerrant, which put him in tension with Unions New School background and its acceptance of what came to be called the higher criticism, a method of study that deals with matters of authorship, dates of writing, and original meanings of the biblical books, using approaches developed by archaeology, literary criticism, and the history of religion, among others. Though Union Seminary backed Charles A. Briggs, the leading biblical scholar of the New School, during the trials that led to his suspension from the Presbyterian ministry in 1893, Shedd did not; the two colleagues criticized each others views publicly. Shedd was given emeritus status in 1890 but taught for three more years while his successor was being sought, until illness made it impossible for him to continue. He died in New York City.
Shedd's writings were direct, logical, and lucid; for him theology was a science, understood in Baconian terms, developed from the philosophy of Francis Bacon into the science-oriented empirical and inductive methods of Enlightenment thought as interpreted by Scottish commonsense realism. His other well known works include History of Christian Doctrine (1863), Literary Essays (1878), and Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (1893). His later teaching showed an increasing conservatism. Originally from the Old School branch of his communion before the reunion of 1869û1870, Shedd increasingly sided with that tradition as developed at Princeton Seminary under the teachings of Charles Hodge and Benjamin B. Warfield, and he rejected the higher criticism of the Bible. Some of his works, in print more than a century after their publication, have been used particularly by fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. A versatile, lucid, prolific scholar, teacher, and writer, Shedd moved away from some of his earlier literary and philosophical interests as he staunchly defended orthodox Calvinism in his later work.