Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

Page 1 of 1 (1 items)
This post has 0 Replies | 0 Followers

Posts 18876
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Nov 16 2018 9:51 PM

Wow, this looks good! Reviewed in First Things by a friend of mine who has a PhD in Church History and is a post-doctoral fellow.

Heretics and Believers: 
A History of the English Reformation

by Peter Marshall
Yale, 652 pages, $40

The author of 2 Maccabees—a contested book in Reformation England—reminds readers that a historian’s duty is “to occupy the ground, to discuss matters from every side, and to take trouble with details.” In Heretics and Believers, Peter Marshall more than fulfills this duty. Adeptly inter­lacing theology and high politics with the experiences and anxieties of everyday people, this volume not only illuminates perhaps the most transformative period of British history—approximately 1480 to 1590—but also offers compelling arguments for the ongoing significance of this “volcanic eruption of change.”

Marshall argues that the meaning of religion in Britain changed during the English Reformation because “habits of ‘doing’ religion themselves underwent transformative, irreversible changes.” Dramatic oscillations of national religious policy led to doctrinal plurality and to the emergence of rival confessional identities, both alongside and opposed to official programs of reform. These entrenched divisions led to a new awareness of being part of the faithful, as opposed to the fallen; to a sharpening of the social aspects of belief; and to the deployment of derogatory labels, such as “papist” and “puritan.” During the course of the sixteenth century, English society became an “uneasy aggregate of true and false Christians,” or “‘heretics’ and ‘believers’—people who knew they were in the right by their ability to point out those who were in the wrong.”

Despite the book’s daunting size, readers with little background in English history will find it accessible. Marshall provides a haunting portrait of an era of remarkable change. Well worth reading. 

—Jonathan Reimer

Page 1 of 1 (1 items) | RSS