Adam Storey Farrar (1826-1905), fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford, delivered his Critical History of Free Thought as a set of eight sermons preached under the auspices of the Bampton Foundation in 1862. The work is a contribution to the history of apologetics and only secondarily to apologetics itself. But for the student of the subject it is an exceptionally valuable performance. Farrar covers the history of attacks on the Christian religion from Lucian, Celsus and Porphyry in the third century through Strauss and Renan in the nineteenth. His erudition is visible on almost every page, particularly with respect to the German literature, and he makes a serious attempt to understand the philosophical systems that lie behind some of the forms that “free thought” have taken across the centuries.

The only modern work in English comparable in scope and execution to Farrar’s Critical History is William Lane Craig’s The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy (1985). Anyone with a serious research interest in the history of apologetics needs to obtain these works.