Isabel Rivers, Vanity Fair and the Celestial City: Dissenting, Methodist, and Evangelical Literary Culture in England 1720-1800, Oxford University Press, 2018, 480p, ISBN: 9780198269960
Publisher’s note: ‘In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the pilgrims cannot reach the Celestial City without passing through Vanity Fair, where everything is bought and sold. In recent years there has been much analysis of commerce and consumption in Britain during the long eighteenth century, and of the dramatic expansion of popular publishing. Similarly, much has been written on the extraordinary effects of the evangelical revivals of the eighteenth century in Britain, Europe, and North America. But how did popular religious culture and the world of print interact? It is now known that religious works formed the greater part of the publishing market for most of the century. What religious books were read, and how? Who chose them? How did they get into people’s hands?
Vanity Fair and the Celestial City is the first book to answer these questions in detail. It explores the works written, edited, abridged, and promoted by evangelical dissenters, Methodists both Arminian and Calvinist, and Church of England evangelicals in the period 1720 to 1800. Isabel Rivers also looks back to earlier sources and forward to the continued republication of many of these works well into the nineteenth century. The first part is concerned with the publishing and distribution of religious books by commercial booksellers and not-for-profit religious societies, and the means by which readers obtained them and how they responded to what they read. The second part shows that some of the most important publications were new versions of earlier nonconformist, episcopalian, Roman Catholic, and North American works. The third part explores the main literary kinds, including annotated bibles, devotional guides, exemplary lives, and hymns. Building on many years’ research into the religious literature of the period, Rivers discusses over two hundred writers and provides detailed case studies of popular and influential works’
Anne Dunan-Page, L’Expérience puritaine. Vies et récits de dissidents (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècle), Paris, Cerf, 2017, 512p, ISBN : 9782204121712.
Publishers’s note: ‘Cet ouvrage s’intéresse à la vie des communautés puritaines dans la Grande-Bretagne du XVIIe siècle et du début du XVIIIe siècle. Grâce à des dizaines de manuscrits rédigés par les pasteurs d’Églises indépendantes sur tout le territoire britannique, on a pu retracer la fondation d’Églises en marge de l’Église nationale, leurs procédures d’admission, la discipline exercée, les stratégies de survie en période de persécution, les relations entre fidèles, mais également le parcours individuel d’hommes et de femmes qui venaient faire le récit de leurs expériences spirituelles en public pour rejoindre une congrégation.
Ces manuscrits contiennent les minutes d’assemblées qui se tenaient chaque mois pour régler les affaires internes à chaque communauté, ainsi que des registres, des récits de fondations, des récits de controverses, des biographies, des correspondances, composant l’histoire des Églises dissidentes, avant et après l’Acte de Tolérance. Collectivement, ces documents représentent un corpus inédit pour saisir l’histoire et l’évolution du puritanisme et un vibrant hommage à l’écriture calviniste en terre réformée’.
Crawford Gribben, John Owen and English Puritanism: Experiences of Defeat, Oxford University Press, 2016, 424p., ISBN 9780199798155.
Publisher’s note: ‘John Owen was a leading theologian in 17th-century England. As vice-chancellor of Oxford University, he was a man of immense intellectual and cultural significance. Through his association with Oliver Cromwell in particular, he exercised considerable influence on central government, and became the premier religious statesman of the Interregnum. The restoration of the monarchy pushed Owen into dissent, criminalizing his religious practice and inspiring his writings in defense of high Calvinism and religious toleration. But Owen transcended his many experiences of defeat, and his claims to quietism were frequently undermined by rumors of his involvement in anti-government conspiracies. Crawford Gribben’s biography documents Owen’s interactions with the intellectual and print cultures of his social, political and religious environments; its narrative is structured around Owen’s own publications. In contrast to the current scholarly consensus, this book emphasizes Owen’s importance as a controversial theologian deeply involved with his social and political environment. Far from personifying the Reformed tradition, he helped to undermine it, offering an individualist account of Christian faith which downplayed the significance of the Church’s means of grace. His work contributed to the formation of the new religious movement known as evangelicalism, where his influence still can be seen today’
Mark Goldie, Roger Morrice and the Puritan Whigs: The Entring Book, 1677-1691, Boydell, 2016, 462p, ISBN 9781783271108.
Publisher’s note: ‘Roger Morrice and the Puritan Whigs explains a movement, illuminates the world of its emblematic representative, and explores one of the most remarkable documents of the seventeenth century. Morrice’s Entring Book was supremely well-informed, passionately committed, and relentlessly opinionated. Chronicling the years 1677 to 1691, nearly a million words in length, it is the fullest surviving record of the tumultuous final years of the Stuart regime, from the Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis to the Glorious Revolution. Morrice was a Puritan clergyman turned confidential reporter for leading Whig politicians, a barometer of opinion, for whom reliable information was vital for public action. Just twenty years after Pepys’s Diary, the Entring Book depicts a darker England, gripped by a new crisis of ‘popery and arbitrary government’. Mark Goldie’s deeply considered book examines the fortunes of Puritanism in the later Stuart age. It offers a story of disillusion and diminuendo, of struggles for survival in the face of intolerance, and of self-understanding among those who hoped to transform England through ‘Godly rule’. Yet the book also tells a countervailing story of revitalized and transformed Puritanism. Puritans worked through parliament, the royal court, and the households of gentry, merchants, lawyers, and clergy. Setting out to galvanize civil society, they mobilized public opinion, organized electorates, and deployed the arts of journalism, influence, and persuasion.’
Kristianna Polder, Matrimony in the True Church: The Seventeenth-Century Quaker Marriage Approbation Discipline, Routledge, 2015, 302pp, ISBN 9781409466888.
Publisher’s note: ‘Like many other denominations, seventeenth-century Quakers were keen to ensure that members married within their own religious community. In order to properly understand the ramification of such a policy, this book explores the early Quaker marriage approbation process and discipline as demonstrated through the works and marriage of the movement’s leaders, George Fox and Margaret Fell. The book begins with an introduction that briefly summarises the historical context of the early Quaker movement, the ministry of Fox and Fell, and importance they laid upon the marriage approbation discipline. The remainder of the book is divided into three broad chapters. Chapter one examines the practical aspects of the early Quaker marriage approbation discipline, including a summary of seventeenth-century courtship and marriage practice, and an analysis of early Quaker Meeting Minutes. Chapter two then looks at the theological foundations of the marriage approbation process, and the Quaker emphasis on ’Good Order’ and their desire to return to the primitive Christianity of the apostolic church. Chapter three examines the marriage between Fox and Fell, which they presented as a testimony of the union of Christ and his Church. Their married life is analysed through their correspondence to discover whether or not the marriage did indeed exemplify the spiritual gravity originally bestowed upon it by Fox, Fell and some in the Quaker community. Through this close investigation of Quaker marriage approbation, the book offers fascinating insights into early modern English society, attitudes to gender and the early Quakers’ self-perception of themselves as the one and only True Church.’
Francis J. Bremer, Lay Empowerment and the Development of Puritanism, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 239pp, ISBN 9781137352880.
Publisher’s note: ‘A study of the rise and decline of puritanism in England and New England that focuses on the role of godly men and women. It explores the role of family devotions, lay conferences, prophesying and other means by which the laity influenced puritan belief and practice, and the efforts of the clergy to reduce lay power in the seventeenth century.’
Chris R. Langley, Worship, Civil War and Community, 1638-1660, Routledge, 2015, 202pp, ISBN 9781848935211.
Publisher’s note: ‘This is the first study of the interaction between warfare and national religious practice during the British Civil Wars. Using hundreds of neglected local documents, this work explores the manner in which civil conflict, invasion and military occupation affected religious practice. As Churches elsewhere in Britain and Ireland were dismantled and the country was invaded by a foreign English army, mid-seventeenth-century Scotland provides an important, yet neglected, point of entry in exploring the intersection between early modern warfare and religious practice. The book establishes a fresh way of looking at the conflicts of the mid-seventeenth century. No other study has explored how soldiers were quartered or marched in close proximity to parish worship, how their presence affected worship patterns and how the very idea of conflict in the mid-seventeenth century impacted upon the day-to-day lives of worshippers. Using the signing of the National Covenant in 1638 as its starting point, this perspective emphasises flexibility in religious practice and the dialogue between local communities, religious leaders and troops as a critical element in the experience of war.’
Kirsty Milne, At Vanity Fair: From Bunyan to Thackeray, Cambridge University Press, 2015, 237pp, ISBN 9781107105850.
Publisher’s note: ‘At Vanity Fair tells the story of Bunyan’s powerful metaphor, exploring how Vanity Fair was transformed from an emblem of sin and persecution into a showcase for celebrity, wealth and power. This literary history, focusing on reception, adaptation and influence, traces the fictional representation of Vanity Fair over three centuries from John Bunyan’s masterpiece, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), to William Makepeace Thackeray’s own Vanity Fair (1847–8). It explores the influence of anonymous journalists and booksellers alongside well-known authors including Ben Jonson, Samuel Richardson and Thomas Carlyle. Over time, Bunyan’s dystopian fantasy has been altered and repurposed to characterise consumer capitalism, channelling memories that inform and unsettle modern hedonism. By tracking the idea of ‘Vanity Fair’ against this shifting background, the book illuminates the relationship between the individual and the collective imagination, between what is culturally available and what is creatively impelled.’
Robert Strivens, Philip Doddridge and the Shaping of Evangelical Dissent, Ashgate, 2015, 212pp, ISBN 9781472440754.
Publisher’s note: ‘Evangelical Dissent in the early eighteenth century had to address a variety of intellectual challenges. How reliable was the Bible? Was traditional Christian teaching about God, humanity, sin and salvation true? What was the role of reason in the Christian faith? Philip Doddridge (1702-51) pastored a sizeable evangelical congregation in Northampton, England, and ran a training academy for Dissenters which prepared men for pastoral ministry. Philip Doddridge and the Shaping of Evangelical Dissent examines his theology and philosophy in the context of these and other issues of his day and explores the leadership that he provided in evangelical Dissent in the first half of the eighteenth century. Offering a fresh look at Doddridge’s thought, the book provides a criticial examination of the accepted view that Doddridge was influenced in his thinking primarily by Richard Baxter and John Locke. Exploring the influence of other streams of thought, from John Owen and other Puritan writers to Samuel Clarke and Isaac Watts, as well as interaction with contemporaries in Dissent, the book shows Doddridge to be a leader in, and shaper of, an evangelical Dissent which was essentially Calvinistic in its theology, adapted to the contours and culture of its times.’
Publisher’s note: ‘Religious dissenters and their literary and social heritage are the principal subjects of this book. At its heart is a group of English men whose activities were local, transcontinental and circum-Atlantic. Drawing on letters, lecture notes, manuscript accounts of academies, and a range of printed texts and paratexts The Textual Culture of English Protestant Dissent 1720-1800 explores the connections between dissent, education, and publishing in the eighteenth century. By considering Isaac Watts and Philip Doddridge in relation to their mentors, students, friends, and readers it emphasizes the importance they and their associates attached to personal relationships in their private interactions and in print. It argues that this contributed to a distinctive literary style as well as particular modes of textual production for moderate, orthodox dissenters which reached beyond their own community to address and influence global discourses about education, enlightenment, and history. The book’s focus on ‘textual culture’ foregrounds relationships between forms as well as considering texts as they existed in one form or another. In examining textual culture, this book emphasises adaptation, transformation, fluidity and communality: it approaches the human relationships that make texts (including friendships, reading communities, intellectual exchange and business arrangements) with as much care as the content of the texts themselves. The book demonstrates that models of family and social authorship among Romantic-era dissenters advanced by Michelle Levy, Daniel White and Felicity James were rooted in the domestic culture at earlier academies and in the example of members of the Watts-Doddridge circle.’
Margaret Aston, Broken Idols of the English Reformation, Cambridge University Press, 2015, 1136pp, ISBN 9780521770187.
Publisher’s note: ‘Why were so many religious images and objects broken and damaged in the course of the Reformation? Margaret Aston’s magisterial new book charts the conflicting imperatives of destruction and rebuilding throughout the English Reformation from the desecration of images, rails and screens to bells, organs and stained glass windows. She explores the motivations of those who smashed images of the crucifixion in stained glass windows and who pulled down crosses and defaced symbols of the Trinity. She shows that destruction was part of a methodology of religious revolution designed to change people as well as places and to forge in the long term new generations of new believers. Beyond blanked walls and whited windows were beliefs and minds impregnated by new modes of religious learning. Idol-breaking with its emphasis on the treacheries of images fundamentally transformed not only Anglican ways of worship but also of seeing, hearing and remembering.’
Robin Gwynn, The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain: Volume I – Crisis, Renewal, and the Ministers’ Dilemma, Sussex Academic Press, 2015, 464pp, ISBN 9781845196189.
Publisher’s note: ‘The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain is planned as one work to be published in three interlinking volumes (titles/publication dates detailed below). It examines the history of the French communities in Britain from the Civil War, which plunged them into turmoil, to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, after which there was no realistic possibility that the Huguenots would be readmitted to France. There is a particular focus on the decades of the 1680s and 1690s, at once the most complex, the most crucial, and the most challenging alike for the refugees themselves and for subsequent historians. The work opens with the Calvinist French-speaking communities in England caught up in the Civil War. They could not avoid it, with many of their members largely assimilated into English society by the 1640s. Generally they favoured the Parliamentarian side, but any victory was pyrrhic because the Interregnum supported the rights of Independent congregations which undermined their whole Calvinist structure. Weakened by in-fighting, in the 1660s the old-established French churches then had to reassert their right to exist in the face of a sometimes hostile restored monarchy and episcopacy, a newly licenced French church emphasizing its Anglicanism and its loyalty to the crown, and the challenges of the Plague and the Fire of London which burnt the largest French church in England to the ground. They were still staggering to find their feet when the first trickle and then the full flood of new Huguenot immigration overwhelmed them.’
Hunter Powell, The Crisis of British Protestantism: Church Power in the Puritan Revolution, 1638–44, Manchester University Press, 2015, 304pp, ISBN 9780719096341.
Publisher’s note: ‘This book seeks to bring coherence to two of the most studied periods in British history, Caroline non-conformity (pre-1640) and the British revolution (post-1642). It does so by focusing on the pivotal years of 1638–44 where debates around non-conformity within the Church of England morphed into a revolution between Parliament and its king. Parliament, saddled with the responsibility of re-defining England’s church, called its Westminster assembly of divines to debate and define the content and boundaries of that new church. Typically this period has been studied as either an ecclesiastical power struggle between Presbyterians and independents, or as the harbinger of modern religious toleration. This book challenges those assumptions and provides an entirely new framework for understanding one of the most important moments in British history.’
Rachel Adcock, Baptist Women’s Writings in Revolutionary Culture, 1640-1680, Ashgate, 2015, 232pp, ISBN 9781472457066.
Publisher’s note: ‘Although literary-historical studies have often focused on the range of dissenting religious groups and writers that flourished during the English Revolution, they have rarely had much to say about seventeenth-century Baptists, or, indeed, Baptist women. Baptist Women’s Writings in Revolutionary Culture, 1640-1680 fills that gap, exploring how female Baptists played a crucial role in the group’s formation and growth during the 1640s and 50s, by their active participation in religious and political debate, and their desire to evangelise their followers. The study significantly challenges the idea that women, as members of these congregations, were unable to write with any kind of textual authority because they were often prevented from speaking aloud in church meetings. On the contrary, Adcock shows that Baptist women found their way into print to debate points of church organisation and doctrine, to defend themselves and their congregations, to evangelise others by example and by teaching, and to prophesy, and discusses the rhetorical tactics they utilised in order to demonstrate the value of women’s contributions.’
Thomas Dixon, Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears, Oxford University Press, 2015, 456pp, ISBN 9780199676057.
Publisher’s note: ‘Far from being a persistent element in the ‘national character’, the notion of the British stiff upper lip was in fact the product of a relatively brief and militaristic period of our past, from about 1870 to 1945. In earlier times we were a nation of proficient, sometimes virtuosic moral weepers. To illustrate this perhaps surprising fact, Thomas Dixon charts six centuries of weeping Britons, and theories about them, from the medieval mystic Margery Kempe in the early fifteenth century, to Paul Gascoigne’s famous tears in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup. In between, the book includes the tears of some of the most influential figures in British history, from Oliver Cromwell to Margaret Thatcher (not forgetting George III, Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, and Winston Churchill along the way).’
Peter Marshall, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation, Oxford University Press, 2015, 320pp, ISBN 9780199595488.
Publisher’s note: ‘Covering both Protestant and Catholic reform movements, in Europe and across the wider world, this beautifully illustrated volume tells the story of the Reformation from its immediate, explosive beginnings, through to its profound longer-term consequences and legacy for the modern world. The story is not one of an inevitable triumph of liberty over oppression, enlightenment over ignorance. Rather, it tells how a multitude of rival groups and individuals, with or without the support of political power, strove after visions of ‘reform’. And how, in spite of themselves, they laid the foundations for the plural and conflicted world we now inhabit.’
John Coffey, Exodus and Liberation: Deliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr., Oxford University Press, 2014, 320pp, ISBN 9780199334223.
Publisher’s note: ‘The history of deliverance politics in Anglo-American history contains remarkable moments of achievement, but this is not a story of triumphal progress. Exodus was hotly contested, used by the powerful as well as the weak, and mobilized to support a host of rival causes. By writing themselves into the Protestant history of liberty, African Americans undercut complacent narratives of progress, injecting a powerful sense of unease into the tradition. The argument over who owns the biblical narrative has continued into the twenty-first century. If Barack Obama saw himself as an inheritor of Exodus politics, so too did George W. Bush. Many Christians – and many non-Christians too – remain understandably suspicious of those who read Israel’s history as political paradigm, especially when it underpins religious nationalism. This story is riddled with moral ironies. The Books of Moses could be used to justify anti-black racism and the dispossession of Native peoples as well as freedom from slavery. In the name of liberation, Protestants have justified war, revolt, and imperialism. High-minded missions have often had dismal consequences.’
Stephen Burley, Hazlitt the Dissenter: Religion, Philosophy, and Politics, 1766-1816, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, 240pp, ISBN 9781137364425.
Publisher’s note: ‘Hazlitt the Dissenter is unique in providing the first book-length account of Hazlitt’s early life as a dissenter, and how this shaped his literary apprenticeship until 1816. Each chapter draws on a substantial body of new material – including a range of previously unattributed writings by Hazlitt and his father – to offer fresh readings of important early writings. Its multidisciplinary approach, chronological focus, and appreciation of denominational difference and theological nuance make it invaluable reading for anyone interested in literary and religious history on both sides of the Atlantic. As the first multi-disciplinary account of Hazlitt’s early literary career, it provides a new insight into the literary, intellectual, political and religious culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Challenging the prevailing critical understanding of Hazlitt as a ‘Romantic essayist’ or ‘radical journalist’, Hazlitt the Dissenter presents an innovative portrait of one of the great English prose writers.’
Paul Hammond, Milton and the People, Oxford University Press, 2014, 288pp, ISBN 9780199682379.
Publisher’s note: ‘Who are ‘the people’ in Milton’s writing? They figure prominently in his texts from early youth to late maturity, in his poetry and in his prose works; they are invoked as the sovereign power in the state and have the right to overthrow tyrants; they are also, as God’s chosen people, the guardians of the true Protestant path against those who would corrupt or destroy the Reformation. They are entrusted with the preservation of liberty in both the secular and the spiritual spheres. And yet Milton is uncomfortably aware that the people are rarely sufficiently moral, pure, intelligent, or energetic to discharge those responsibilities which his political theory and his theology would place upon them. When given the freedom to choose, they too often prefer servitude to freedom. Milton and the People traces the twists and turns of Milton’s terminology and rhetoric across the whole range of his writings, in verse and prose, as he grapples with the problem that the people have a calling to which they seem not to be adequate. Indeed, they are often referred to not as ‘the people’ but as ‘the vulgar’, as well as ‘the rude multitude’, ‘the rabble’, and even as ‘scum’. Increasingly his rhetoric imagines that liberty or salvation may lie not with the people but in the hands of a small group or even an individual. An additional thread which runs through this discussion is Milton’s own self-image: as he takes responsibility for defining the vocation of the people, and for analysing the causes of their defection from that high calling, his own role comes under scrutiny both from himself and from his enemies.’
Charles-Edouard Levillain, Un Glaive pour un royaume. La querelle de la milice dans l’Angleterre du 17e siècle, Honoré Champion, 2014, 520pp, ISBN 9782745326102.
Publisher’s note: ‘La culture politique anglaise a longtemps été marquée par une hostilité tenace à l’égard des armées de métier, associées aux « monarchies militaires » comme l’Espagne, la France ou, au XVIIIe siècle, la Prusse. À ce contre-modèle continental, l’Angleterre opposait les vertus prétendument immanentes d’une milice civique constituée de non-professionnels de la guerre, chez qui l’amour de la liberté et de la patrie primait sur tout instinct mercenaire. La milice était considérée comme fondatrice du droit et des libertés, en même temps qu’elle devait servir de garante de l’ordre public. À partir d’une relecture de l’histoire longue de l’Angleterre et d’une analyse comparée des régimes républicains depuis l’Antiquité, se mit en place un mythe politico-constitutionnel qui devait perdurer longtemps après le siècle des révolutions. La présente étude se propose de revisiter les origines de ce mythe à l’aune de sources nouvelles, en montrant notamment que la distinction traditionnelle entre milices civiques et armées de métier relevait en grande partie d’une construction rhétorique, encouragée par l’extraordinaire vitalité des débats politiques et religieux qui ont entouré les révolutions de 1640-1649 et de 1688-1689, ainsi que l’Interrègne (1649-1660) et la période de la Restauration (1660-1688). La milice constitua en réalité un objet de controverse non moins vif que les armées de métier, s’inscrivant à l’intérieur d’un débat plus large sur les capacités de défense d’une puissance internationale en devenir.’
W. Gregory Monahan, Let God Arise : The War and Rebellion of the Camisards, Oxford University Press, 312pp, ISBN 9780199688449.
Publisher’s note: ‘Let God Arise draws upon an extensive array of archival sources to present the first modern account in English entirely devoted to the rebellion and war of the Camisards. Combining traditional narrative with analysis, W. Gregory Monahan examines the issues that led to that rebellion, beginning with the conversion of the artisans and peasants of the remote mountain region of the Cévennes to Protestantism in the sixteenth century, its persistence in that confession in the seventeenth, and the shattering impact of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which deprived Protestants first of their pastors, and then of the itinerant preachers who attempted to take their place. Beginning in 1701, prophetism swept the region, and the prophets, who believed they heard and followed the word of the Holy Spirit, soon led their followers into violent attacks on the Catholic Church and rebellion against the crown. A persistent and occasionally successful guerrilla war raged for over two years.’
Elizabeth Sauer, Milton, Toleration, and Nationhood, Cambridge University Press, 2014, 230pp, ISBN 9781107041943.
Publisher’s note: ‘John Milton lived at a time when English nationalism became entangled with principles and policies of cultural, religious, and ethnic tolerance. Combining political theory with close readings of key texts, this study examines how Milton’s polemical and imaginative literature intersects with representations of English Protestant nationhood. Through detailed case studies of Milton’s works, Elizabeth Sauer charts the fluctuating narrative of Milton’s literary engagements in relation to social, political, and philosophical themes such as ecclesiology, exclusionism, Irish alterity, natural law, disestablishment, geography, and intermarriage. In so doing, Sauer shows the extent to which nationhood and toleration can be subjected to literary and historicist inquiry. Her study makes a salient contribution to Milton studies and to scholarship on early modern literature and the development of the early nation-state.’
Larry J. Kreitzer, William Kiffen and his World, 4 vols., Regent’s Park College Oxford, 2010-14, ISBN 9780953974672 (vol. 1), 9781907600128 (vol. 2), 9781907600159 (vol. 3), 9781907600173 (vol. 4).
This four-volume set forms part of the ‘Re-Sourcing Baptist History: Seventeenth Century Series’ from the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies. It is a Regent’s Park College Publication. For further details, please click on the link.
Geoffrey Treasure, The Huguenots, Yale University Press, 2014, 488pp, ISBN 9780300208665.
Following the Reformation, a growing number of radical Protestants came together to live and worship in Catholic France. These Huguenots survived persecution and armed conflict to win—however briefly—freedom of worship, civil rights, and unique status as a protected minority. But in 1685, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes abolished all Huguenot rights, and more than 200,000 of the radical Calvinists were forced to flee across Europe, some even farther. In this capstone work, Geoffrey Treasure tells the full story of the Huguenots’ rise, survival, and fall in France over the course of a century and a half. He explores what it was like to be a Huguenot living in a “state within a state,” weaving stories of ordinary citizens together with those of statesmen, feudal magnates, leaders of the Catholic revival, Henry of Navarre, Catherine de’ Medici, Louis XIV, and many others. Treasure describes the Huguenots’ disciplined community, their faith and courage, their rich achievements, and their unique place within Protestantism and European history. The Huguenot exodus represented a crucial turning point in European history, Treasure contends, and he addresses the significance of the Huguenot story—the story of a minority group with the power to resist and endure in one of early modern Europe’s strongest nations.’
Rachel Weil, A Plague of Informers: Conspiracy and Political Trust in William III’s England, Yale University Press, 2014, 360pp, ISBN 9780300171044.
Publisher’s note: ‘Stories of plots, sham plots, and the citizen-informers who discovered them are at the center of Rachel Weil’s compelling study of the turbulent decade following the Revolution of 1688. Most studies of the Glorious Revolution focus on its causes or long-term effects, but Weil instead zeroes in on the early years when the survival of the new regime was in doubt. By encouraging informers, imposing loyalty oaths, suspending habeas corpus, and delaying the long-promised reform of treason trial procedure, the Williamite regime protected itself from enemies and cemented its bonds with supporters, but also put its own credibility at risk.’
Leif Dixon, Practical Predestinarians in England, c.1590-1640, Ashgate, 2013, 398pp, ISBN 9781409463863.
Publisher’s note: ‘The belief that God eternally and unalterably decrees the election of one part of humankind and the reprobation of the rest has not aged well, but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the doctrine of predestination was publicised and popularised to an extent unparalleled in the history of Christianity. Why was this? How successfully was the doctrine able to mix with other ideas, and to what effect? And did belief in predestination encourage confidence or despair? Practical Predestinarians is a study of the ways in which the doctrine of predestination was understood and communicated by churchmen in late Tudor and early Stuart England. It connects with debates about the ‘popularity’ of Protestantism during England’s ‘long reformation’, as well as with the question of whether predestination tended toward inclusive or divisive, and conformist or subversive, applications. Intersecting with recent debates about the popular reception of Protestant preaching, this book focusses upon the pastoral message itself – it is therefore an investigation into the public face of English Calvinism.’
Clint C. Bass, Thomas Grantham (1633-1692) and General Baptist Theology, Regent’s Park College Oxford, 2013, ISBN 9781907600111.
This text forms part of the ‘General Series’ of publications at the ‘Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies’. It is a Regent’s Park College Publication. For further details, please click on the link.
This text forms part of the ‘General Series’ of publications at the ‘Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies’. It is a Regent’s Park College Publication. For further details, please click on the link.
Howard D. Weinbrot, Literature, Religion, and the Evolution of Culture, 1660–1780, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013, 392pp, ISBN 9781421405162 (hardback), 9781421408606 (electronic).
Publisher’s note: ‘Literature, Religion, and the Evolution of Culture, 1660–1780 chronicles changes in contentious politics and religion and their varied representations in British letters from the mid-seventeenth to the late
eighteenth century. An uncertain trend toward tolerance and away from painful discord significantly influenced authors who reflected on and enhanced germane aspects of British literary and intellectual life. The movement was stymied during the painful Gordon Riots in June 1780, from which Britain needed to repair itself.
Howard D. Weinbrot’s broad-ranging interdisciplinary study considers sermons, satire, political and religious polemic, Anglo-French relations, biblical and theological commentary, Methodism, legal
history, and the novel.’
Mark Burden, A Biographical Dictionary of Tutors at the Dissenters’ Private Academies, 1660-1729, Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, 2013.
Author’s note: ‘The Dictionary consists of 91 entries on the lives of dissenting tutors and a substantial introduction examining the political, literary, and educational significance of the academies. Each tutor entry considers the individual’s life and writings, with particular emphasis upon his education, teaching, and literary output. Extensive information is also provided on the tutor’s ministerial career, attempts to prosecute him, his posthumous legacy, and the careers of his students. Every entry is accompanied by a bibliography of manuscript and printed sources, and (wherever possible) a list of the tutor’s works. Unlike most previous accounts of the academies, the information used to compile the Dictionary is drawn from contemporary documents, including letters, diaries, funeral sermons, manuscript and printed memoirs, state papers, and chapel registers. As well as discussing printed works, considerable attention is devoted to manuscript notebooks used by tutors and students, including lecture notes, systems of learning, philological and mathematical exercises, and disputations.’
Bremer, Francis J., Building a New Jerusalem: John Davenport, a Puritan in Three Worlds, Yale University Press, 2012, ISBN: 9780300179132.
Publisher’s note: ‘John Davenport, who cofounded the colony of New Haven, has been neglected in studies that view early New England primarily from a Massachusetts viewpoint. Francis J. Bremer restores the clergyman to importance by examining Davenport’s crucial role as an advocate for religious reform in England and the Netherlands before his emigration, his engagement with an international community of scholars and clergy, and his significant contributions to colonial America. Bremer shows that he was in many ways a remarkably progressive leader for his time, with a strong commitment to education for both women and men, a vibrant interest in new science, and a dedication to upholding democratic principles in churches at a time when many other Puritan clergymen were emphasizing the power of their office above all else. Bremer’s enlightening and accessible biography of an important figure in New England history provides a unique perspective on the seventeenth-century transatlantic Puritan movement. Shortlisted for the 2012 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association, Reading the West Book Awards in the Adult Nonfiction category. Finalist for the 2013 New England Society Book Awards in the Nonfiction category.’
Publisher’s note: ‘Francis J. Bremer has spent his entire career broadening our understanding of America’s colonial founders. Now, in this eminently readable collection of biographies, Bremer brings us a surprisingly varied and dynamic group of characters who continue to guide and influence America today. With its cast of magistrates, women, clergy, merchants, and Native Americans, First Founders underscores the breadth of early American experience and the profound transatlantic roots of our country’s forebears. Bremer succeeds in bringing little-known figures out of the shadows, while allowing us to appreciate better known figures in an entirely new light. This is a truly fascinating look at the Puritans with keenly drawn portraits and the insight that only a lifetime of scholarship can achieve. It should become the standard introduction to the field. Written in the mold of Joseph Ellis’s Founding Brothers and Gordon Wood’s Revolutionary Characters, the book will appeal to general readers, students, and scholars alike.’
Michael Brown, A Political Biography of John Toland, Pickering & Chatto, 2012, 208pp, ISBN 9781851969142.
Publisher’s note: ‘John Toland was notorious. A pamphleteer, a polemicist and a prankster of the first order, modern scholarship has struggled to position his writings within the debates of his day. This study is the first to fully recount his remarkable biography, situating his writings within the controversies that sparked and shaped them.’
Michael E. Bryson, The Atheist Milton, Ashgate, 2012, 190pp, ISBN 9781409447016.
Publisher’s note: ‘Basing his contention on two different lines of argument, Michael Bryson posits that John Milton-possibly the most famous ‘Christian’ poet in English literary history-was, in fact, an atheist. First, based on his association with Arian ideas (denial of the doctrine of the Trinity), his argument for the de Deo theory of creation (which puts him in line with the materialism of Spinoza and Hobbes), and his Mortalist argument that the human soul dies with the human body, Bryson argues that Milton was an atheist by the commonly used definitions of the period. And second, as the poet who takes a reader from the presence of an imperious, monarchical God in Paradise Lost, to the internal-almost Gnostic-conception of God in Paradise Regained, to the absence of any God whatsoever in Samson Agonistes, Milton moves from a theist (with God) to something much more recognizable as a modern atheist position (without God) in his poetry. Among the author’s goals in The Atheist Milton is to account for tensions over the idea of God which, in Bryson’s view, go all the way back to Milton’s earliest poetry. In this study, he argues such tensions are central to Milton’s poetry-and to any attempt to understand that poetry on its own terms.’
Simon J. G. Burton, The Hallowing of Logic: The Trinitarian Method of Richard Baxter’s Methodus Theologiae, Brill, 2012, ISBN 9789004226401.
Publisher’s note: ‘While Richard Baxter (1615-91) has been called the ‘chief of English Protestant schoolmen’, few studies of his theology exist, and none of his major systematic work the Methodus Theologiae (1681). Through examining the scriptural and metaphysical foundations of his exemplaristic logic, and engaging extensively with his medieval and early modern sources, this study presents Baxter’s understanding of method as the unfolding of the believer’s relation with the Triune God through salvation history, revealing his profound debt to Scotist and Nominalist thought. In tracing the manifold ramifications of this method it offers a fresh reading of Baxter’s soteriology, countering the charges of moralism and rationalism often levelled at him, and placing his thought within a scholastic paradigm of “faith seeking understanding”.’
Kate Narveson, Bible Readers and Lay Writers in Early Modern England: Gender and Self-Definition in an Emergent Writing Culture, Ashgate, 2012, 246pp, ISBN 9781409441670.
Publisher’s note: ‘Bible Readers and Lay Writers in Early Modern England studies how immersion in the Bible among layfolk gave rise to a non-professional writing culture, one of the first instances of ordinary people taking up the pen as part of their daily lives. Kate Narveson examines the development of the culture, looking at the close connection between reading and writing practices, the influence of gender, and the habit of applying Scripture to personal experience. She explores too the tensions that arose between lay and clergy as layfolk embraced not just the chance to read Scripture but the opportunity to create a written record of their ideas and experiences, acquiring a new control over their spiritual self-definition and a new mode of gaining status in domestic and communal circles. Based on a study of print and manuscript sources from 1580 to 1660, this book begins by analyzing how lay people were taught to read Scripture both through explicit clerical instruction in techniques such as note-taking and collation, and through indirect means such as exposure to sermons, and then how they adapted those techniques to create their own devotional writing. The first part of the book concludes with case studies of three ordinary lay people, Anne Venn, Nehemiah Wallington, and Richard Willis. The second half of the study turns to the question of how gender registers in this lay scripturalist writing, offering extended attention to the little-studied meditations of Grace, Lady Mildmay. Narveson concludes by arguing that by mid-century, despite clerical anxiety, writing was central to lay engagement with Scripture and had moved the center of religious experience beyond the church walls.’
Publisher’s note: ‘This book explores the nature of religious community at a time when, by some accounts, it was in its death throes. Many have argued that early modern communities suffered too much damage to survive, as cumulative assaults of the Reformation, the rise of Puritanism, and the denominational fragmentation of the Interregnum and Restoration destroyed parish unity forever. Without minimizing the significance of these events, this book argues for the resilience of religious community. By analyzing the religious networks of Oliver Heywood (1630-1702), a strategically-placed and well-documented Presbyterian minister, this work illustrates the flexibility of the communal ideal in the face of the challenges presented by the Long Reformation. Through Heywood’s eyes we watch the inhabitants of the northern parish of Halifax as they cross, and at times blur, the denominational boundaries that loom large both in the heated rhetoric of the time and in recent historiography.’
Alan P. F. Sell, The Great Ejectment of 1662 : Its Antecedents, Aftermaths and Ecumenical Significance, Pickwick Publication, 2012, 308pp, ISBN 9781610973885.
Publisher’s note: ‘By Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August, 1662, all ministers and schoolmasters in England and Wales were required by the Act of Uniformity to have given their “unfeigned assent and consent” to the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. On theological grounds nearly two thousand ministers—approximately one fifth of the clergy of the Church of England—refused to comply and thereby forfeited their livings. This book has been written to commemorate the 350th Anniversary of the Great Ejectment. In Part One three early modern historians provide accounts of the antecedents and aftermath of the ejectment in England and Wales, while in Part Two the case is advanced that the negative responses of the ejected ministers to the legal requirements of the Act of Uniformity were rooted in positive doctrinal convictions that are of continuing ecumenical significance.’
Kathleen Lynch, Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World, Oxford University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780199643936.
Publisher’s note: ‘Autobiographical narrative is seldom viewed as a catalyst for the social and political upheavals of mid-seventeenth-century England and its colonies. Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World argues that it should be. Focusing on the inward search for signs of election as a powerful stimulus for new, written forms of self-identification, this study directs critical attention toward the collective processes through which ‘truthful’ texts of spiritual experience were constructed, validated, and endorsed. This new analysis of the rhetoric of authentic selfhood emphasizes the ways in which personal accounts of religious awakening became another opportunity to conceptualize experience as an authorizing principle. A broad spectrum of Protestant life-writing is explored, from Augustine’s Confessions, first translated into English in 1620, through John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666) and Richard Baxter’s Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696).The forms in which these landmark texts were circulated and the interests that those circulations served are examined in such a way as to put canonical texts back into conversation with the outpouring of individual life writings that dates from the middle of the 17th century on.’
Raymond Brown, Spirituality in Adversity: English Nonconformity in a Period of Represse, 1660-1689, Studies in Evangelical History and Thought, Milton Keynes, Paternoster, 2012, 375pp, ISBSN 1842277855.
Publisher’s note: ‘The unique feature of this scholarly and very readable work is that it examines the way those persecuted responded to hardship: their faith, their worship, their perseverance. With marvellous warmth Raymond Brown shows us the spirituality of these men and women- spirituality centred on Jesus Christ and the Father’s love, even in such times.’
Paul C. H. Lim, Mystery Unveiled: The Crisis of the Trinity in Early Modern England, Oxford University Press, 2012, 512pp, ISBN 9780195339468.
Publisher’s note: ‘Paul C. H. Lim offers an insightful examination of the polemical debates about the doctrine of the Trinity in seventeenth-century England, showing that the philosophical and theological re-configuration of this doctrine had a significant impact on the politics of religion in the early modern period. Lim’s analysis of these heated polemics shows how Trinitarian God-talk became untenable in many ecclesiastical and philosophical circles, leading to the emergence of Unitarianism. He demonstrates that those who continued to uphold Trinitarian doctrine articulated their piety and theological perspectives in an increasingly secularized culture of discourse. Drawing on both unexplored manuscripts and well-known treatises of Continental and English provenance, he uncovers the complex layers of the polemic: from biblical exegesis to reception history of patristic authorities, from popular religious radicalism during the Civil War to Puritan spirituality, from Continental Socinians to English anti-Trinitarians who claimed an independent theological identity, from the notion of the Platonic captivity of primitive Christianity to that of Plato as “Moses Atticus”.’
Michael P. Winship, Godly Republicanism Puritans, Pilgrims, and a City on a Hill, Harvard University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780674063853.
Publisher’s note : ‘Puritans did not find a life free from tyranny in the New World—they created it there. Massachusetts emerged a republic as they hammered out a vision of popular participation and limited government in church and state, spurred by Plymouth Pilgrims. Godly Republicanism underscores how pathbreaking yet rooted in puritanism’s history the project was. Michael Winship takes us first to England, where he uncovers the roots of the puritans’ republican ideals in the aspirations and struggles of Elizabethan Presbyterians. Faced with the twin tyrannies of Catholicism and the crown, Presbyterians turned to the ancient New Testament churches for guidance. What they discovered there—whether it existed or not—was a republican structure that suggested better models for governing than monarchy. The puritans took their ideals to Massachusetts, but they did not forge their godly republic alone.In this book, for the first time, the separatists’ contentious, creative interaction with the puritans is given its due. Winship looks at the emergence of separatism and puritanism from shared origins in Elizabethan England, considers their split, and narrates the story of their reunion in Massachusetts. Out of the encounter between the separatist Plymouth Pilgrims and the puritans of Massachusetts Bay arose Massachusetts Congregationalism.’
Elizabeth Clarke, Politics, Religion and the Song of Songs in Seventeenth-Century England, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 256pp, ISBN 9780333714119.
Publisher’s note: ‘This book investigates a surprising textual and spiritual phenomenon – the huge number of versions of the Song of Songs produced in England in the century and a half after the Reformation. The Biblical book as interpreted by Calvinist commentators is seen to encode metaphorically many of the key Reformation doctrines. The love affair which is the book’s main focus is interpreted allegorically (and sometimes absurdly) to advocate a particularly close relationship between the believer and Christ. This way of reading the text became controversial as the seventeenth century proceeded: however, it sustained a Puritan constituency in the religiously-driven warfare and rebellions that took place in England. The widespread nature of the metaphor of the Bride for the holy soul, especially as she was the author of much of the poetry of the Song, encouraged women to pick up the pen in an age when authorship was thought of as male.’
Tim Cooper, John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity, Ashgate, 2011, ISBN 9780754663614.
Publisher’s note: ‘John Owen (1616–1683) and Richard Baxter (1615–1691) were both pivotal figures in shaping the nonconformist landscape of Restoration England. Yet despite having much in common, they found themselves taking opposite sides in several important debates, and their relationship was marked by acute strain and mutual dislike. By comparing and contrasting the parallel careers of these two men, this book not only distils the essence of their differing theology, it also offers a broader understanding of the formation of English nonconformity. Placing these two figures in the context of earlier events, experience and differences, it argues that Restoration nonconformity was hampered by their strained personal relationship, which had its roots in their contrasting experiences of the English Civil War. This study thus contributes to historiography that explores the continuities across seventeenth-century England, rather than seeing a divide at 1660. It illustrates the way in which personality and experience shaped the development of wider movements.’
Russell M. Hillier, Milton’s Messiah: The Son of God in the Works of John Milton, Cambridge University Press, 2011, 266pp, ISBN 9780199591886.
Publisher’s note: ‘Milton’s Messiah provides the first comprehensive book-length analysis of the nature and significance of the Son of God in Milton’s poetry and theology. The book engages with Biblical and Patristic theology, Reformation and post-Reformation thought, and the original Latin of the treatise De Doctrina Christiana, to argue for a radical reassessment of Milton’s doctrine of the atonement and its importance for understanding Milton’s poetics. In the footsteps of Dennis Danielson’s Milton’s Good God, this study responds to William Empson’s celebrated portrayal of Milton’s God as a deity invoking dread and awe, and instead locates the ultimately affirming presence of mercy, grace, and charity in Milton’s epic vision. Challenging the attribution of an Arian or Socinian model to Milton’s conception of the Son, this interdisciplinary interpretation marshals theological, philological, philosophical, and literary-critical methods to establish, for the first time, not only the centrality of the Son and his salvific office for Milton’s oeuvre, but also the variety of ways in which the Son’s restorative influence is mediated through the scenes, characters, actions, and utterances of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regain’d. From the allegorical sites Satan encounters as he voyages through the cosmos, to Eve’s first taste of the Forbidden Fruit, to the incarnate Son’s perilous situation poised atop the Temple pinnacle, Hillier illustrates how a redemptive poetics upholds Milton’s proclaimed purpose to assert eternal providence and justify God’s ways. This original study should court debate and controversy alike over Milton’s priorities as a poet and a religious thinker.’
Polly Ha, English Presbyterianism, 1590-1640, Stanford University Press, 2010, ISBN 9780804759878 (printed), 9780804776936 (electronic).
Publisher’s note: ‘This book offers an alternative interpretation of pre-Civil War England, challenging the standard narrative that English presbyterianism was successfully extinguished from the late sixteenth century until its prominent public resurgence during the English Civil War. From their emergence in the 1570s, English presbyterians posed a threat to the Church of England, and, in 1592, the English crown arrested the leaders of the presbyterian movement. Ha shows that, during the ensuing half century of apparent silence, English presbyterians remained continually active. They made a concerted effort, for example, to build an alliance with common lawyers against episcopal authority. Yet they also sought to prove the compatibility of their church government with royal supremacy. They agitated for further reformation of the Church of England, but by the early seventeenth century they had contributed to the birth of ‘independency’ and to puritan appeals to neo-Roman views of liberty.’