Tolerance and Intolerance in the European Reformation. Edited by Ole Peter Grell and Bob Scribner. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 294 pp. $59.95.
This book of fifteen essays accomplishes what a landmark collection should. Cumulatively, the essays signal a paradigm shift and the reemergence of the practical political context as the analytical framework of choice for explaining advances and declines in tolerance and intolerance in Reformation Europe of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The book is organized primarily by national area and each contributor should be considered a preeminent specialist.
In the paradigm shift evident in each essay, the driving forces of "idealism" and humanist values are replaced by political pragmatism as the engine of history. Traditional assumptions of the "organic growth of toleration from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century" are replaced by case studies which examine highly variable chronologies and specific political conjunctures. The result is by no means a return to stereotypical arguments of reason of state or even models based on the compelling interests of commerce. Instead, tolerance and intolerance take their place as factors in the process of state-building and in a carefully nuanced history of confessionalization. The essays on Eastern Europe are particularly informative where the concept of "confessional absolutism" is developed by Jaroslav Panek writing on Bohemia and Moravia.
Bob Scribner offers a probing critique of R.I. Moore's presentation of "classification" and "stigmatization" as explanatory factors for the emergence of a "persecuting society" by showing that a much finer analysis of the microdynamics driving classification and stigmatization is required. Scribner urges analysis of a wide range of "active moral entrepreneurs" "beyond the …