Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Religion of the Word: The Defence of the Reformation in the Reign of Edward VI

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Religion of the Word: The Defence of the Reformation in the Reign of Edward VI

Article excerpt

A Religion of the Word: The Defence of the Reformation in the Reign of Edward VI. By Catharine Davies. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2002. xxiii + 264 pp. £49.99 (cloth); $74.95 (cloth).

Catharine Davies's A Religion of the Word: The Defence of the Reformation in the Reign of Edward VI masterfully demonstrates the importance of Protestant writings of variant genres in sustaining and shaping the Edwardian Reformation. For Davies, therefore, "Word" refers not only to Scripture, but also the written "word" used in the defense of Edwardian Protestantism. Davies's methodology (pp. ix-xix) is clear as she develops her history of the period by thematically surveying "the printed material produced by the English Protestants in the period from c. 1546-53" (p. ix). This material was intended to establish Protestantism by stimulating public debate.

The introduction ("Historical Perspectives on the Reign of Edward VI"), chapter 1 ("The Struggle Against Popery"), and chapter 2 ("The Threat of Religious Radicalism") offer no new insights into the Edwardian Reformation. Together, however, they form a well-documented and well-written synopsis of the political, cultural, and religious factors that interplayed to give rise to the early English Reformation, albeit from the revisionist perspective of Haigh, Scarisbrick, and Duffy, with due consideration to Diarmaid MacCulloch's blending of the revisionist and religionist historiographies. Davies assumes the Edwardian Reformation to have been nothing more than a politically driven "top down" reformation arising from the "Henrician Schism" while rejecting Elton's and Dickens's perspective of a true religious reformation generated by changes in faith, practice, and the availability in the vernacular language of the Word of God. Her uncritical acceptance of the revisionist historiography and its permeation through the entire work is the one weakness of her study. …

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