Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Jewel on the Eucharist

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Jewel on the Eucharist

Article excerpt

John Jewel, bishop of Salisbury during the 156Os, sought to restore what his friend Vermigli called "the initial simplicity of observing the Lord's Supper." To that end, Jewel jettisoned the doctrine of transubstantiation, and he questioned clerical prerogatives then associated with the sacrament. At his eucharist, there would be "no difference between priest and people."1 he conceded, as did Thomas Cranmer a decade before, that clerical consecration converted the bread and wine to godly use, but Jewel frowned on explanations and gestures that suggested the priests' prestige and power at the altar. he was like Cranmer in this as well, though the latter finally acquiesced-for convenience, he said-to the laity's kneeling at reception. It is curious, then, to read in the historical survey Christopher Cocksworth composed for his fine study of recent sacramental spirituality that Jewel "made a clear break with Cranmer." What follows puts that observation to the test, revisiting the principals to discover what Jewel hoped to achieve.2


Stephen Gardiner got it right. His reverence for the consecrated elements of the eucharist was no greater than Archbishop Cranmer's had been. Gardiner assured young King Edward's privy councillors as much, yet he was prevented from returning to his diocese (Winchester) and confined near London for contending that Christ was corporally, "locally" present, body and blood, as what appeared to be the bread and wine at the altar3

Gardiner was offered his freedom in july 1550, on the condition that he subscribe to articles drawn from the prayer book authorized the year before, one of which stipulated "that the sacrament shoulde not be lifted up and shewed to the people to be adored." Gardiner's replies, alternatively combative and conciliatory, were invariably evasive. It was reported that he found enough in the prayer book to imply Christ's presence and allow proper veneration "although the elevation was taken away," yet he was unprepared to admit that as long as he was confined. And the king's council believed it was unwise to release him until he became the crown's kind of Protestant.4

Cranmer had been the crown's kind of Protestant for over a decade while maintaining "we ought to beleve that in the sacrament we receyve trewly the bodye and bloude of Christ" and "[we] ought not to doute but we eat his veray bodye."5 Bishop Hooper of Gloucester thought the "oughts" "very defective and in some respects manifestly impious."6 According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, Cranmer's most discerning biographer, what especially irritated Hooper and other ardent reformers was that "conservatives" like Gardiner "gleefully seiz[ed] on the ritual opportunities which the archbishop incautiously built into the 1549 liturgy."7

Martin Bucer apparently shared Hooper's concern. He arrived too late to assist with the prayer book's composition, but he was generous with his counsel during its revision. Bucer told Cranmer that the liturgy, in effect, was too equivocal. It intimated that Christ's body was present at the altar localiter, parceled out by the priests to many mouths (ac ita in multa loca distractum). The prayer book, for instance, obliged priests to turn from the laity with cup and bread in hand, a turn that made Bucer doubt "the elevation conception was...sufficiently eliminated."8

But Cranmer was already making changes when Bucer offered his observations. The archbishop took aim at the christological arguments for transubstantiation. He did not deny that divinity was materially present in Jesus's humanity, yet he alleged that colleagues' were wrong to infer from such presence that Christ's humanity and divinity were present in the elements on the altar. The incarnation reconciled creatures to their creator and redeemer; thereafter, reconciliation was represented and renewed sacramentally. But Cranmer insisted that nothing in his statement suggested Christ was corporally present at communion, as he had been on Calvary. …

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