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25 - Polemic’s Purpose

from Part IV - The Religious Question

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2019

R. Ward Holder
Affiliation:
Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire
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Summary

Sixteenth-century Reformers would not have understood Michel Foucault’s postmodern assault on polemic as the antithesis of truth because the defense of truth – divine truth, that is – was the guiding purpose of their endeavors. They would, however, have recognized Foucault’s description of their tactics as a no-holds-barred contest against an “enemy who is wrong, who is hurtful, and whose very existence constitutes a threat.”1 Across the confessional divide, early modern polemicists believed they were engaged in a war of words as deadly serious as the bloody confrontations taking place in the streets and on the battlefields of Europe. The new medium of print became a critical instrument in their efforts to win princely support; mobilize public opinion across broad geographical, linguistic, and confessional boundaries; and vanquish the heretic in their midst.

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John Calvin in Context , pp. 215 - 223
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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References

Balke, Wilhelm. Calvin and the Anabaptist Radicals. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981.Google Scholar
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Higman, Francis. The Style and Polemics of John Calvin in His French Polemical Treatises. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967.Google Scholar
Matheson, Peter. The Rhetoric of the Reformation. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998.Google Scholar
Neuser, Wilhelm, and Armstrong, Brian, eds. Calvinus Sincerioris Religionis Vindix: Calvin as Protector of the Purer Religion. Vol. 36. Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1997.Google Scholar
Racaut, Luc. Hatred in Print: Catholic Propaganda and Protestant Identity during the French Wars of Religion. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2002.Google Scholar
Szabari, Antònia. Less Rightly Said: Scandals and Readers in Sixteenth-Century France. Redwood, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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