Henry Scott Holland

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For other people of the same name, see Henry Holland (disambiguation).
Henry Scott Holland

Henry Scott Holland (27 January 1847 – 17 March 1918) was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. He was also a canon of Christ Church, Oxford. The Scott Holland Memorial Lectures are held in his memory.

Family and education[edit]

He was born at Ledbury, Herefordshire, the son of George Henry Holland (1818–1891) of Dumbleton Hall, Evesham, and of the Hon. Charlotte Dorothy Gifford, the daughter of Lord Gifford. He was educated at Eton where he was a pupil of the influential Master William Johnson Cory, and at the Balliol College of the University of Oxford where he took a first class degree in Greats. During his Oxford time he was greatly influenced by T.H. Green. He had the Oxford degrees of DD, MA, and Honorary DLitt.

Religious and political activity[edit]

After graduation, he was elected as a Student (fellow) of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1884, he left Oxford for St Paul's Cathedral where he was appointed canon.

He was keenly interested in social justice and formed PESEK (Politics, Economics, Socialism, Ethics and Christianity) which blamed capitalist exploitation for contemporary urban poverty. In 1889, he formed the Christian Social Union.

In 1910, he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, a post he held until his death in 1918. He is buried in the churchyard of All Saints church, Cuddesdon near Oxford. Because of his surname, Mary Gladstone referred to him affectionately as "Flying Dutchman" and "Fliegende Hollander"[citation needed].

While at St Paul’s Cathedral Holland delivered a sermon in May 1910 following the death of King Edward VII, titled Death the King of Terrors, in which he explores the natural but seemingly contradictory responses to death: the fear of the unexplained and the belief in continuity. It is from his discussion of the latter that perhaps his best-known writing, Death is nothing at all, is drawn:


The frequent use of this passage has provoked some criticism that it fails to accurately reflect either Holland's theology as a whole, or the focus of the sermon in particular.[1] What has not provoked as much criticism is the affinity of Holland's passage to St. Augustine's thoughts in his 4th Century letter 263 to Sapida, in which he writes that Sapidas brother and their love, although he has died, still are there, like gold that still is yours even if you save it in some locker.

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Academic offices
Preceded by
William Ince
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford
1911—1918
Succeeded by
Arthur Cayley Headlam