Book Reviews

Rowan Williams, Anglican Identities, Darton Longman & Todd (2004) 149pp., £7.95

Rowan Williams has selected eight individuals, whose life and work exerted a powerful influence over the creation of a distinctive Anglican theology and identity. The intention of the volume is not to produce a watertight definition of Anglicanism, but rather to highlight both the shared common ground, and the diverse approaches, of Anglican writers across the centuries. The biographical essays reflect ongoing debates over critical issues across five hundred years, and present a convincing demonstration of the importance of voices from the past in shaping the 21st century church. Chapters explore differing views on scripture, tradition, ecclesiastical authority, and the political position and function of the church, while exposing the potential for conflict and coexistence between the various groups and individuals within the church. Williams argues that the lives and works of these eight figures are testimony to the existence, and distinctiveness, of Anglican theology in the centuries after the Reformation, and suggests that although the book is primarily a study of the past, it is a past which has much to contribute to the more immediate question of what holds the modern Anglican community together. Anglicanism is broadly defined, and taken as clearly reformed, despite the ‘pervasive echoes’ of the mediaeval past in its life and thought. Its defining characteristic, a theme which recurs frequently throughout the book, is a ‘theologically informed and spiritually sustained patience’, which binds the members of the church together in past and present.

Each of the eight essays in the volume stands alone as a study of the life and work of one individual, but taken together they allow Williams scope to explore unexpected connections and interactions across the centuries. The selection of subjects is largely pragmatic: the author explains in the Introduction to the collection that several essays had their origins in invitations to deliver lectures and papers to different audiences. The most significant lacuna lies in the period between the Civil War and the High Victorian age. Williams is well aware of this, but excuses the rather patchy chronological coverage on the grounds that the case studies reflect the pattern of invitations received, and asks the reader to fill these two centuries with characters of their own choosing. The selection of subjects might well have something to say about the interests and preoccupations of the modern Anglican community, but the case studies reflect, Williams argues, a ‘distinctive constellation in Anglican history’. Successive chapters present an analysis of William Tyndale and the notion of Christian Society, the distinctive and influential thought of Richard Hooker, George Herbert’s Afflictions, the work of B.F. Westcott, Michael Ramsey, John A.T. Robinson, and various Anglican approaches to the Gospel of St John. The later essays provide ample opportunity for the discussion of liberalism in the modern church, and for Williams’ constructive criticisms and observations, not least in his analysis of the important but ‘imperfect’ Honest to God.

Readers of this journal, however, will be pleased to hear a modern archbishop describe William Tyndale as the ‘true theological giant’ of the English Reformation. The works of Tyndale, Williams suggests, in their emphases upon the home and family, and particularly the economic and social implications of Christian discipleship, have a real contribution to make to the Christian churches of the modern age. Tyndale, he argues, might have appealed to God to open the eyes of the king of England, but this was in no sense a denial of the oneness of the Christian community, its pastors, and secular leaders. Tyndale’s ‘project of reformation’ was doctrinal, political, and social in its implications, requiring the creation of a new commonwealth, founded upon the principle evangelical doctrine of justification by faith. The individual, delivered into freedom by Christ, incurred a debt which was owed to others, not only likeminded Christians, but, more radical still, those outside the church. For Tyndale, ‘wicked mammon’ was not the simple acquisition of wealth, but the failure to use this wealth for the good of others. Tyndale’s charity was not the gift of goods and money to the poor in alms, but the realisation of the potential of individuals to discharge their debts and duties themselves. The implications of this for the modern church, Williams suggests, are most evidently visible in debates over unshared wealth and international debt. The problems highlighted by Tyndale are those that face the church today, and Tyndale’s construction of a Christian language provides both a vocabulary and imperative for the modern church.

This analysis of Tyndale’s Parable of the Wicked Mammon is followed by two separate chapters on the work and influence of Richard Hooker. Hooker’s thought, Williams suggests, was characterised by a sense of the wisdom of God, and the importance of the encounter between humanity and that divine wisdom. The analysis focuses upon issues of sacramental theology and ecclesiastical authority in the works of Hooker, and touches upon ongoing debates over the authority of scripture, tradition and discipline. Hooker’s defence of tradition by the same basic method that had been deployed in the defence of vernacular scripture, Williams concludes, provides evidence of paradox rather than contradiction in his thought. In this respect, he suggests, Hooker ‘like the Anglican tradition as a whole’ is almost impossible to pigeonhole. His legacy to the church is one of ‘contemplative pragmatism’, which can acquire fulfilment set against more rigidly defined orthodoxies. It is perhaps these three chapters that will be of the greatest interest to those concerned with the history and theology of the sixteenth century English church. However, as Williams repeatedly points out, Tyndale and Hooker are but the beginning of the story: the themes established in their thought and writings are those which have preoccupied the church throughout its history. The style and presentation throughout is engaging and provocative, and testimony to Williams’ efforts to ensure that papers initially produced for an academic audience remain accessible to a wider and broader congregation. The ease with which the more familiar ground is covered in the opening chapters provides a further incentive, if it were needed, to read the rest of the volume.


 

Helen Parish, University of Reading, June 2004


 

David W. Cloud, Rome and the Bible The History of the Bible through the Centuries and Rome’s Persecutions Against It. Way of Life Literature Port Huron, Michigan First printing, October 1996 Third edition revised and enlarged, September 2001 ISBN 1-58318-003-6.

Not long ago I attended a history seminar that could well have been called ‘The Softer Side of the Inquisition’. Downplaying the Holy Office’s atrocities is the in-thing these days, backed up by recent scholarship and documents newly plucked from the Vatican archives.

Our guide through this revisionist swamp was a likeable priest, similar to Father Mulcahy in the long-running “MASH” TV series. He did not deny the atrocities, including those committed by his own order, the Dominicans (or “Domini-Canes”, hounds of the Lord); he could not argue with the facts. He admitted the wanton confiscation of private property carried out under the Holy Office’s banner. But he put the Spanish Inquisition’s body count at a scant 2,000-5,000 for its entire centuries-long lifespan (we’ll come back to this figure later).

There are scraps of truth in this. If there’s no smoke without fire, then there are no fires without bellows, and poetic licence is easy to spot in historical accounts of the Holy Office’s barbarities. It may also be true, while of scant comfort to men awaiting trial, that the Inquisition marked a hobbling step toward enhanced due process freedoms for defendants.

Moreover, in their haste to damn the Catholic Church, Reformation enthusiasts have conflated the Mediaeval and Spanish Inquisitions, State authorities, private armies and lynch mobs, all distinct entities performing separate functions.

Tactical concessions apart, the agenda here is to discredit the Reformers and what they died for. In our Dominican speaker’s worldview, Protestant historians are propagandists, while Vatican archives are scrupulously accurate. Inquisition courts followed the rulebook, while Cathars and Waldensians were “the real extremists”. Many of the bodies burned at autos-da-fe were effigies, not human, and so on.

“Even if they killed nobody”, I interjected to lusty audience applause, “what a catastrophic waste of time, human energy, and resources this all was! Couldn’t this vast superstructure of priests, and trials, have been put to more productive use?”

“Well, yes… and no” mumbled the presenter. Yes, because some Catholic religious orders wanted no part of the Inquisitorial frenzy. And no, because… at this point our speaker was reduced to a feeble stammer. Why “no”? There is no “no” here!

Even as a lukewarm Church of England member steeped in the lore of the Reformation, I bore the Dominican no ill will, I quite liked him, and could gladly have carried on our talk elsewhere. He had his point of view and I have mine. I’m not alone that way. The Tyndale Society is a broad church, containing Protestants, Catholics, atheists, and straightforward admirers of fine English prose. We are drawn together by Tyndale’s universalist insistence that the Scriptures are, and must be, for everybody. We have no time for sectarian malice and could be said to have an ecumenical philosophy. One man who will have none of this is David W. Cloud, author of today’s book for review. In the United States where Cloud is based, Evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church made their peace decades ago, coalescing around social issues including shared opposition to abortion. Cloud represents an earlier generation for whom Vatican II never happened and for whom the battle lines remain forever stark. When I read that Cloud bears no hatred toward Catholics, just to “the blasphemous Roman Catholic system” – and to Evolution or Communism – I almost gave up.

Why, I hear you ask, are we giving a platform to hate literature? Well, that’s what reviewers are for - to act as a filter! But wait; Cloud’s special hero is… William Tyndale, who receives far more column inches than are customary in books produced by university presses and the London/New York publishing axis. And as an Evangelical publishing house based in the USA, Way of Life Literature is plugged into a potentially much bigger audience than our Society, acting alone, is likely to reach. It behoves us to monitor how our man is being treated around the world.

This book is written for readers who believe, and who do not merely profess to believe, that people’s actions in this life determine their salvation in the next. A sentence from the blurb captures the savour:

‘David W. Cloud is founder and director of Way of Life Literature, a 26-year old Fundamental Baptist missionary publishing ministry. Brother Cloud was saved in 1973 at age 23, and the Lord gave him a burden to communicate the truths of God’s Word via the printed page. (…) One of the chief goals of Way of Life Literature is to help protect churches from end-time apostasy through doctrinal preaching and carefully documented research.’

Cloud’s emphasis on salvation through Scripture has its merits. Historical episodes relegated to footnotes in conventional histories acquire fresh importance through his distinctive lens. The Venerable Bede’s translation of the Gospel of St. John, completed before his death, is credited with having saved the souls of those Anglo-Saxons lucky enough to read it. There is a logic to this. Brother Cloud looks forward to a celestial meeting with proto-Reformer John Oldcastle, who died bravely for the faith. It’s a sweet thought.

The facts presented here are much as we know them, but the emphases are different. Academic historians dare not indulge in the kind of cut-glass certainty that Cloud permits himself. Thus the Wycliffe Bibles were translated by Wycliffe and Purvey, no English bibles came before them, and there’s no mention of Trevisa.

This defiantly traditionalist approach is also apparent in the use of stylized Victorian woodcuts of Reformation scenes, quaint relics of a bygone era of historianship. Mind you, the author has read up on a stupendous number of long-lost Reformation histories. Grateful for the tip, I have already ordered a copy of Thomas M’Crie’s super-rare “History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Spain in the Sixteenth Century,” which I need for my collection.

And away we go, on a tour of early Bible translators throughout Europe, taking in Jacques Lefèvre in France, Francisco de Enzinas and Cassiodoro de Reina in Spain, Nicolo Malermi (or Malerbi) in Italy, and many others, all men who translated the Scriptures at great personal risk to themselves. A brief disclaimer: as your reviewer, I stumbled upon “Rome and the Bible” in a thankless effort to search for material on Enzinas using Google.

Regarding William Tyndale, I learnt little about him I didn’t know already (Cloud is a Foxe and Mozley guy, you’ll search in vain for David Daniell in the bibliography). Cloud views double agents Stephen Vaughan and Henry Phillips as having essentially similar motives, and his heart beats faster when he speaks of Anne Boleyn. We find a passing reference to William Tyndale translating the five books of Moses into Welsh (according to “History of the Welsh Baptists,” Jonathan Davis, 1835)! And this charming passage…

“Rome was directly connected, then, with the persecutions against this noble translator from beginning to end. Nothing frightened the old religious Harlot more than the thought of the Scriptures laid open before the common man. The Devil, surely understanding something of the importance of England and its language, employed his false church in a bitter warfare against this Bible which was to have a worldwide influence without peer among translations.”

Readers on Cloud’s mailing list will be left in no doubt as to the importance of Tyndale’s work throughout history. But his portrayal of the valiant English translator comes without the pretence of detachment, the scholarly caveats and nuances that we expect.

Just how badly does Cloud cloud the issues, if you’ll pardon the pun? He engages in overkill in his never-ending accounts of the massacres of Waldensians, mainly drawn from one source ( History of the Waldenses James Aitken Wylie, c. 1860). There’s only so much one can take of Cathar babies getting dashed against the rocks. And 2,000 deaths were recorded in the very first year of the Spanish Inquisition’s operation, in Cloud’s reckoning.

There is grudging recognition that some Catholics throughout history have wanted the Bible translated into the vernacular, and distributed far and wide (not with priestly strings attached). This book’s concern is always with the Scriptures and people are judged by their relationship thereto; little else matters. As for Cloud’s central contention - that the Vatican has supported vernacular translations only when it had no choice, and crushed them when it had the power - that’s a matter for individuals to decide. Hence I thought I would act as a double Devil’s Advocate, for the sake of argument.

Cloud’s readers might not be aware, although I am well aware, of the Catholic Church’s record of support for scholarship in a wide variety of fields, including with regard to the Bible (from the Complutensian Polyglot on down). All large institutions detest freelancers and try to swat them; Bible translators are freelancers as a rule; and if you’re a freelance outcast from a mammoth institution, the fly-swatter is that much larger.

As the centuries progress in Cloud’s history, and as books and printing come to permeate all aspects of life, the Popes’ fulminations against vernacular Bibles acquire an air of desperation. Cloud takes them au pied de la lettre. Speaking as a Washingtonian, however, the never-ending Papal thunderbolts reminded me of the fax bombs which powerful lobbying groups send to the White House when the incumbent dares to stray from orthodoxy. These missives are meant to scare and threaten, and they are never less than utterly predictable. And they succeed! One would feel… let down if these messages failed to appear at the appointed moment.

What conclusions can we draw? Tyndale Society members are not this book’s intended audience. Our author is at home in the language of sectarian strife, which makes us feel uncomfortable. For Cloud, the task of pressing the Bible into ploughboys’ hands was nothing less than a fight to the death. Who is closer to the spirit of the times he describes? What would Tyndale have to say on the subject? These are sobering thoughts for the ecumenical age in which we imagine we live.


 

Neil L. Inglis, June 2004.


 

Alan D. Savage, D’Aubigné’s Méditations Sur Les Pseaumes, Studies In Reformed Theology and History, New Series. No 8, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, N.J., 2002. 119pp.+bibliography.

Although Agrippa d’Aubigné (1552-1630) fought and wrote in defence of the “Parti protestant,” this French Huguenot is hardly familiar to Tyndale readers. Professor Alan Savage of the French Department of Wheaton (Illinois) College in his D’Aubigné’s Méditations Sur Les Pseaumes offers a painstakingly wrought study of a noteworthy contribution to the history of meditative literature. This book is a most fitting addition to Princeton Theological Seminary’s Studies in Reformed Theology and History, since the Méditations should be of interest to students of Reformation religion, history, and literature. Even if we hesitate at Savage’s suggestion that his subject is “one of the major literary figures of the sixteenth century”, the generous quotations from d’Aubigné and their careful analysis reveal a writer of conviction and artistry.

To this reader, d’Aubigné in his prose meditations seems closer to Ignatius of Loyola than to William Tyndale. Tyndale in his commentaries on the New Testament preaches a gospel of personal salvation by faith, while d’Aubigné creates a prayerful meditation and dialogue that is at once both personal and also directed to a political Kingdom having a practical meaning for his persecuted French Huguenot readers.

But like Tyndale adopting the voice of Paul to his Christian communities, d’Aubigné takes on the “I” voice of the psalms, “je”, both for the writer of the Méditations and for his reader. Commentator and reader assume the character of David and expand the original situation of the psalm to “englobe their own circumstances,” in Savage’s words, and find a model both for their repentance and assurance of their reconciliation to God. Thus what Savage refers to as “the Catholic sacrament of penitence” — shouldn’t it be “penance”? – is rejected as man’s invention, as Tyndale did, even with his touch of ambivalence over “eare confession”. This turning by the true believers “directly to the Bible to repair their relationship with God” Savage illustrates by both d’Aubigné’s embracing the Old Testament voice of David, “J’annonce la justice dans la grande assemblée; Voici, je ne ferme pas mes Ires, Eternel, tu le sais!” and the New Testament Paul, “Mais rien ne me separera de la dilection de Christ”.

The heart of Savage’s work is his explication of d’Aubigné’s devotion to the “langage de Canaan”. (If there were an index for this book, a regrettable omission, I would wager the use of this phrase would be noted in moderate three figures!) Savage first discusses the ideal readers of the Méditations which for d’Aubigné “definitely does not include atheists” but “the like-minded Christian reader”. (Tyndale would have approved!) The realities of the wars of religion intrude, interestingly, with d’Aubigné’s targeting in his satirical writing “the many self-seeking conversions to Catholicism by Protestants”. More fundamentally, d’Aubigné is making the accusation that Catholicism is more of a political, social, and professional structure than it is a true religion dealing with spiritual issues”. (Sounds a bit like my “separated brethren” of the various “Protestant” denominations over here in South Carolina!) Savage notes that “A simply Christian d’Aubigné, as opposed to a Protestant d’Aubigné very much hostile to Catholicism, cannot be found in any of his writings”.

The “language of Canaan” is the simple communication of the Christian with his God, like the Israelites being rescued from their persecutors and given their Kingdom, their promised land, their Canaan - like the Pilgrims of America, before they turned to banking and shipping - finding “la prise de possession de Canaan”. Savage effectively describes the particular political conditions of sixteenth-century France as related to d’Aubigné’s combination of spiritual and worldly hope in his prose meditations on the Psalms. In Savage’s chapter, Speaking the ‘Langage de Canaan’, he refers to d’Aubigné’s use of Job’s complaints about the way God is treating him. Doubtless this struck home to readers of the Méditations: Job “after remaining faithfully silent for so long.., decides he is justified.., and demands an audience with God”. The “language of Canaan” is direct and frank.

Is there a real difference between the Catholic tradition of meditation and d’Aubigné’s Méditations? Both look to the conversion of the individual, to repentance by faith in a loving God—albeit after occasional meditations on personal damnation from the Catholic Ignatius of Loyola and America’s own Protestant, Jonathan Edwards. The Méditations, however, look to a Kingdom, if not in this world, at least in the next. Savage closes his penultimate chapter thus: “The interaction between the author-mediator and God often reflects interaction between the king and his subjects. For d’Aubigné, however, all things earthly pale in comparison with spiritual realties, and, in the end, the main focus of the Méditations is the individual believer’s relationship with God, a relationship that will be sealed in the eternal Kingdom”.

D’Aubigné’s Méditations with their “langage de Canaan” were intended to bring both d’Aubigné “contentement du coeur” and “exultations de la langue” to his fellow Christians. Savage’s conclusion is that the complexities of this language can be simplified as “God’s eternal Word expressed in the human language of Scripture and appropriated by readers”. Our simple conclusion is that every serious collection of Reformation scholarship, institutional or individual, should own this book.


 

Donald Millus, Coastal Carolina University, May 2004

Editor’s Note:
Prof. D. Millus is the editor of the William Tyndale’s Exposition of the Fyrste Epistle of Seynt Ihon for the Catholic University of America Press edition of The Complete Independent Works of William Tyndale to be published in 2005.


David Daniell, The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. Yale University Press, New York and London, 2003 ISBN 0-300-09930-4 hardback, pp.900 £29.95.

This is a scholarly book with multiple themes, but written in a way that makes reading easy. One theme, running through the book, is the bloodstained story of how the Bible was made available to the people in a language they could understand. We are alerted to this theme at the beginning by the coloured frontispiece of the Lindisfarne page showing the first verses of St John’s Gospel in Latin with tiny translations between the large and beautiful lines of the Latin. This is contrasted on the back cover with a line drawing of Tyndale being burnt at the stake. The frontispiece shows the kindness of a monk to another, less educated in his Latin. If he could read it would have to be in Old English so he could say the Latin as required and know what he was saying. The back cover shows the savagery of those who resisted the Bible open to the people. There was savagery on both sides and Daniell has not hesitated to recognize the courage of Catholic martyrs in Rheims and Douai.

But his authority as well as his loyalty go to Tyndale who is the patron saint of this book which is dedicated to him. David Daniell, Emeritus Professor of English in the University of London, is the author of books on Shakespeare and editor of Tyndale’s New and Old Testaments. He has also written a very significant biography of William Tyndale which will no doubt be the standard for many years to come.

There have been histories of translations before and they are kept up to date by writers listing new ones every time a major translation appears. This is one of those histories, but much more. In his detailed survey he shows the way in which translations of the Bible have developed the English language - much as Luther’s translation did for the German language. His examples of the influence on Shakespeare are impressive. One reason is that the Tudor translators worked in the high renaissance of the English language and they became part of it. Daniell does not give as much space to modern translations, which are at times nearer to the original but do not approach the style or give the uplift that the King James’ Version (the AV) does. That was supported one night for me as I walked home from a service introducing the New English Bible. A local farmer walked with me and his comment was ‘Ah! It don’t sing’. He did not know that the NEB was often more accurate but he knew it didn’t sound right. Of course, we need modern translations, as the Anglo-Saxon monks did, but academic accuracy must never be allowed to rob us of the inspiration which comes from the page as we read.

The first part of Daniell’s book deals with the period before printing, reaching a climax in Wycliffe’s translation from the Latin. There is a strange irony in the opposition to this. The Latin was itself a translation, made so that the people could understand it. Hence the name ‘Vulgate’. But that was set in stone and soon became thought of as the original and certainly the accepted text. Wycliffe’s Lollard Bibles were fiercely opposed. It was suspected that they had stimulated rebellion and were one of the inspirations for the Peasants’ Revolt of the 14th century. To be fair, some thought it was a mistranslation and would lead people astray. Bibles should be read by those with learning enough to interpret them to the common people.

One of the themes running through this book is the glory of the open Bible. It took Tyndale his life work and ultimately his life itself to obtain this. So far as England is concerned “what Tyndale opened has never been shut”. Printing changed a great deal. Erasmus had his Greek text of the New Testament printed and it circulated among scholars. Tyndale circulated his translation with difficulty. He was not alone and Daniell brings out the support he received from Coverdale and others. The three chapters on William Tyndale, After Tyndale and Coverdale’s Bible 1535 are the heart of the book. But the effect on subsequent editions such as the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva New Testament of 1557 and the Geneva Bible of 1560 are treated in detail with appreciation.

What emerges again and again is Daniell’s absorbing interest in the language that was developing, greatly affected by Tyndale. He makes a startling revelation when he writes, ‘The English language when Tyndale began to write was a poor thing, spoken only by a few in an island off the shelf of Europe, a language unknown in Europe…. It is hard to think that in 1500 it was as irrelevant to life in Europe as today Scots Gaelic is to the city of London’. Daniell shows the change with adequate illustrations. He does not claim all this for Tyndale, but putting the Bible into plain English was a part of the development. There is much space given to the Geneva Bible and the events that brought it into being. The role of the Psalms in the Reformation is argued closely linked with translations published or otherwise circulated. There are chapters on editions and revisions.

Chapter 21 on the Rheims New Testament, l582, is short but appreciative at first, leading to a violent opposition to the polemic nature of both preface and translation. The chapter ends with, ‘Mercifully, the Rheims New Testament had little effect’. David Daniell has not written an impartial book. He has strong views and he supports them well.

A brief but very important chapter in this book is that which examines the language of Spenser and Shakespeare. Much is original and worth careful study. On Shakespeare he writes:

‘What Shakespeare and the Bible have in common is that language, at the highest moments, of elemental simplicity, from the Gospels. It is suffering and poverty that are interiorised by Shakespeare..... Shakespeare met suffering people, registered in the ordinary language of the people, in the texts of the Gospels in English, ultimately Tyndale’s English. He interiorised their suffering and put them on the stage’.

After a chapter on ‘The English Bible in America - From the beginning to 1640’, Daniell devotes two chapters to the King James Bible of 1611. Although much of the story is known, he goes into unseen corners and arouses curiosity, particularly through notes and comments. Appropriately, as this chapter ends and the readers have been convinced that this ‘Authorised Version’ is 80% Tyndale and all our familiar quotes are from him - including ‘chopping and changeing’ - a section of 47 black and white reproductions appears, showing the title pages and other prints to bring out the common appeal of the Bible. One is of Queen Victoria, flanked by Prince Albert, presenting a copy of the Bible to a native chief of some British colony. It is entitled ‘The Secret of England’s Greatness’.

The book goes on, giving a great deal of space to the Bible in America, a subject which will be new to many readers. The research here has been meticulous and rewarding.

The 19th century was rich in material for such a book as this. It began with the formation of The British and Foreign Bible Society and towards its end the Revised Version of the King James Bible. Daniell uses this period to highlight the effect of the Bible on two artists - William Blake and William Holman Hunt. The greater part is given to Blake and is brilliant, but Holman Hunt is chosen for his ‘Light of the World’. Of this, Daniell writes,

‘It is a painting in which Hunt achieved something rare, the confident combination of Pre-Raphaelite realism, imaginative vision and true Christian power, in which the biblical typology allows continual revelation of new meaning’.

One chapter of 35 pages is given to the twentieth century, which is not his main interest and it has been covered many times by many writers - and there will be more. The concluding chapter ends with Tyndale. It is a personal summary well worth discussing. Finally he gives us the full text of the Preface to the first 1611 edition of the KJV. It runs for almost 20 pages.

David Daniell’s ‘The Bible in English’ is a rare book and it will not be replaced for many years as the standard work on the English Bible.


 

Edwin Robertson, June 2004.


 

Jeremy Goring, Burn Holy Fire: Religion in Lewes since the Reformation Lutterworth Press £17.50 (0-7188-3040-7)

There seems no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot in Lewes, the East Sussex county town that plays host to England’s most bloodcurdling Bonfire Night celebrations. These also keep alive the memory of a still earlier anti-Roman Catholic grievance: the early Protestants burned at the stake there in Mary I’s reign, though in Burn Holy Fire Jeremy Goring argues that the Lewes Bonfire Night has less to do with a continuous remembrance of these martyrs than with a 19th century invention of tradition.

This study demonstrates how much more there is to the story of Christianity in Lewes than pope-burnings and blazing tar-barrels; but an awareness of religious polemic is inevitably to the fore. Goring focuses on the interplay among the town’s different denominations and sects. Simply to list these gives some idea of the possible tensions: Anglicans; Roman Catholics; General, Particular and Strict Baptists; English, Scottish and Irish Presbyterians; Calvinistic, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists; Quakers; Independents; Congregationalists; Huntingdonians and Huntingtonians; Salvationists; Unitarians; Free Christians.

The micro-history, which addresses broad political, religious and social issues through concentrating on a single town or village, is now a fashionable genre – rightly so, since at its best it can fuse the compelling human details of local history with the methodological clarity of the academy.

Goring attempts a longer time-span than most. The book starts with St Wilfrid’s conversion of Sussex in 666, but concentrates on the town’s post- Reformation history, and ends in the present day. Within this, the histories of individual church buildings are themselves revelatory of the larger picture. In the 1720s, dissentient members of the Westgate Chapel congregation seriously proposed locking their minister out of the pulpit; but 200 years later Westgate worshippers were pioneering ecumenism, and in 2000 Anglicans, Quakers and Methodists all participated in the chapel’s 300th anniversary celebrations.

If Lewes can yield ecumenical success-stories, anywhere can. Goring comes as close as anyone ever will to explaining the complex dynamics of Lewes religion and, more broadly, the enigma of why this part of the country should have been associated with Nonconformity and with sectarianism to such a legendary degree.

One sect he does not discuss is the Church of the Quivering Brethren, described in Stella Gibbon’s comic novel Cold Comfort Farm, which is also based in Sussex. As the historian Geoffrey Elton commented, this has always been “a shire given to its own secret ways”.


 

Alison Shell

This review by Dr A. Shell, lecturer in English at the University of Durham, first appeared in the Church Times 26 March 2004. The book is available from the Church Times Bookshop tel. 0044 (0)1420 592975 ctbookshop@shineonline.net price £15.75 + postage.


Platten Stephen, (editor) Anglicanism and the Western Christian Tradition: Continuity, change and the search for communion Canterbury Press £19.99 (1-85311-559-2)

The Church of England has changed in the past 25 years, and its history has changed with it. The Catholics who dominated mid-20th-century Anglicanism tended to downplay the Reformation, stressing continuity with the mediaeval Church; but also (paradoxically) they tended to heighten the Oxford Movement’s novelty by playing up the Protestantism of the preceding generations. Recent scholarship has redressed the balance: the Church of England was more Reformed in the 16th century, and more high-church in the early 19th, than has sometimes been claimed.

In this book, the new picture is presented by the leading historians who painted it. Others fill in colour and detail. This accessible summary deserves a wide readership.

Diarmaid MacCulloch describes the successive Reformations: Henry VIII’s “could more plausibly be called Lutheranism without justification by faith” than “Catholicism without the Pope”; Edward VI’s swept away almost all the Henrician Reformation’s features; and Elizabeth I’s largely restored the Edwardian Reformation, but with more conservative tone and style.

Eamon Duffy concludes that the Elizabethan reformers “intended to establish a Reformed Church which would be part of a Protestant international, emphatic in disowning its mediaeval inheritance and rejecting the religion of Catholic Europe”. As MacCulloch says, it is very doubtful whether the distinctive Catholic-but-Reformed strand of Western Christianity known as “Anglicanism” can be found in the English Reformation.

But from the late 1580s came what Peter Lake calls “the Anglican Moment”: “the polarities were reversed”. To counter Puritan arguments, Hooker redefined the Church of England’s position, re-evaluated Rome, and recovered a positive view of tradition and ceremonial worship: “echoes of and continuity with the Catholic Christian past became badges of pride”. Bancroft went further, defending episcopacy as divinely instituted. In a sense, Hooker invented ‘Anglicanism’, but his work was part of a wider seachange, which was also reflected, as Duffy’ shows, in nostalgia for the lost world pointed to by “bare ruin’d choirs”.

Pauline Croft illustrates these changing attitudes in the lives of three members of the Cecil family. As Judith Maltby shows, the changes produced Prayer Book Protestants unhappy at Laudian innovations, but loyal to Anglican liturgy and episcopacy even through the interregnum: there was widespread support for restoration of the Church.

The book then leaps from 1662 to the Tractarians, who, Peter Nockles argues, “sought to redefine and remould the Church of England”. Their attempted “construction of a self-conscious ‘Catholic’ identity” involved “a deliberate rewriting of Anglican history”. They came to view the English Reformation as an embarrassment. The precedent of the Caroline divines makes it wrong to characterise the Tractarians as mere innovators, but Newman eventually concluded that he had been “taken in” by the Carolines, and went over to Rome.

Newman, like Laud, was unwilling “to settle for a mere right to observe certain Catholic doctrines and practices within the widening comprehensive fold of Anglican teaching”. Nockles rightly points out that the Anglo- Catholics who stayed had to do so - though their success in remoulding the Church of England should not be underestimated.

The historians’ pendulum may have swung a little too far. Despite its subtitle, the book emphasizes discontinuities; but, as Duffy recognizes, the Church of England uniquely “retained totally unchanged the full mediaeval framework of episcopal church government”, and its Prayer Book was “saturated with echoes of mediaeval Catholicism”. As MacCulloch notes, the threefold ministry in historic succession was continued (if not initially valued).

He also highlights the survival of the cathedral foundations: these corporate bodies with choirs and large staffs of clergy were “an ideological subversion” of Reformed Protestantism. Structural continuity with the mediaeval Church, which made the recovery of Catholic identity possible, was arguably of more enduring significance than the opinions dominant in particular, sometimes quite brief, periods. For a fully balanced picture, both must be given due weight.


 

Cohn Podmore

This review by Dr Cohn Podmore, Administrative Secretary at Church House, Westminster first appeared in the Church Times 19 March 2004. The book is available from the Church Times Bookshop tel 0044 (0) 1420 592975 ctbook shop@shineonline.net price £18 + postage.

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