The Fair Haven (1873)

First edition title page (BII FAI 1873.2)

The Fair Haven is a reworking of Butler’s pamphlet on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and is one of Butler’s least known works. Published anonymously in 1873, the book poses as the memoir of John Pickard Owen, a fictional champion of the Gospels, and offers an ironical defence of certain cardinal dogmas of Christianity. In attempting to use the religious ‘evidence’ for the resurrection to ‘refute’ the numerous rational objections, Owen’s argument exposes the wilful irrationality of the Christian approach.

Unfortunately, Butler’s irony was so subtle that only those who knew him to be the author perceived the joke, and many readers were fooled into thinking the book a straightforward theological treatise in defence of the Christian faith. To prevent any further confusion, Butler put his name to the second edition.

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