Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

John Foxe and the English Reformation

Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

John Foxe and the English Reformation

Article excerpt

David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation, St Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Aldershot, Scholar Press, 1999, pp. xii + 340, hb. £55.00, ISBN: 1859283519

This volume emerged from a colloquium intended to bolster the project that will produce critical editions of Acts and Monuments. It can be said, in a sense, to be a manifesto for this, demonstrating the need for such a project and the need for further Foxeian study. In this it wholly succeeds. It has, as is all too often the case, the drawbacks of such collections but there are several thought provoking, satisfying and convincing contributions.

Perhaps the most exemplary essay is the iconographical study by Margaret Aston and Elizabeth Ingram. Providing sensitive readings of the illustrations and tracing connections in terms of sources and established forms, they deepen the simplistic treatments that tend to dominate the field. They also make clear the necessity of placing the martyrology firmly in its pan-European context. This recurrent theme is addressed, in different ways and with differing success, by David Watson and Andrew Pettegree. Watson provides a short and workmanlike look at Jean Crespin which is interesting but a little peripheral. Pettegree gives a more useful study of the Antwerp minister Adriaan van Haemstede. He looks at the virtually incestuous relationships between martyrologists and goes on to examine the common types and themes that structure the various accounts.

The content of the form is taken further by a splendid piece by John King, using a series of narratives and studying the hermeneutic determinism of the range of genres adopted. His contribution reads as an appropriate castigation of the Victorian editions but also exposes a neglected area that will aid our future assessments, not least in that he modifies traditional questions about Foxes veracity. Similar issues are addressed by Tom Betteridge but, in his case, between editions. He characterises the 1563 edition as prophetic, 1570 as apocalyptic and 1583 as monumental. The analysis across editions is a vital part of the Foxe project and Betteridge gives a stimulating schematic framework that will need taking further in detail. …

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