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This article seeks to provide a new way of interpreting the Age of Reform and its legacy on the occasion of the Protestant Reformation's 500th anniversary. Over the past several decades, many scholars have interpreted the Age of Reform through the lens of a “Discipline Paradigm.” They have stressed the centrality of social and moral discipline in the Age of Reform and its legacy for the modern world. This paradigm has inspired much important and original scholarship, and yet it has also failed to take account of significant aspects of the Age of Reform. This article seeks to revise and challenge the “Discipline Paradigm” by focusing on one of the most important and widespread practices of the period: verbal consolation. There was an unprecedented flowering of such consolation in the Age of Reform and yet scholars have largely ignored it in their treatments of the period. This article seeks to demonstrate how viewing the Age of Reform as an Age of Consolation can provide important new insight into the character and legacy of the Age of Reform, and, indeed, into human existence in the past.
This essay surveys the ways the attitudes of Piccolomini and Cusa toward the initiation of a crusade were shaped by their shifting allegiances between 1432 and their deaths in 1464. Piccolomini's developing interest in crusade, which became his central concern during his reign as pope, is traced through his years at Basel and in the service of Frederick III. Cusa's attitude toward crusade is approached in terms of the apparent contradiction between the views set out in his De pace fidei and the role that he played at imperial diets in the 1440s and 1450s. In the case of both men, the impact of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 is reassessed.
An analysis of Calvin's multifaceted use of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus reveals several things of importance both for scholarship on Renaissance historical and biblical criticism generally, and for Calvin studies in particular. Calvin's reception of Josephus was quite extraordinary in its breadth, and complex in its employment and function. References to the historian are peppered throughout his works in a wide array of contexts, from the special authority of Moses to the length of the Sea of Galilee. Significantly, Calvin not only used Josephus as a source for raw historical data, but also employed him to philosophical, theological, and political ends as well. And while the reformer is not unequivocally positive in his judgment of the historian as a reliable source, an overwhelming majority of the instances where Calvin cites Josephus's texts are used to augment his exegetical works, and at times Josephus's authority comes close to overriding that of the literal biblical account. The purpose of this paper is to show how Calvin's engagement with Josephus in his commentaries reveals him to have been an able and discerning critic who would at times go to great lengths in order to sort out perceived discrepancies or to fill in historiographical lacunae pertinent to the biblical story, but also an opportunistic humanist who would use whatever resources he had at his disposal for clarifying the historical background of the biblical text.
At the beginning of James I's reign, a petition campaign, the Hampton Court conference, numerous tracts, and considerable effort in Parliament all failed to overcome the king's adamant defense of the forms and practices of his episcopal church. In a milieu of deprivations and perception of declension, Henry Jacob, one of the organizers of the petitioning, denounced the illegitimacy and dangers of prelatical church government in several tracts between 1604 and 1609, advocated congregationalism, and outlined the basis for a second conference to bring continuing religious disputes to a close. In 1609, having achieved no success, Jacob turned away from scriptural arguments for reform and instead boldly adopted the novel reason-of-state political language to request “toleration” for politically loyal nonconforming Protestants. Jacob relied on “axioms of pollicie” and recent examples to demonstrate that necessity sometimes determined that toleration, while unpalatable, was the most prudent political course (as the new language had it). James's handwritten marginalia on this tract reveal his continuing antipathy toward any reform he believed derogated from his monarchical “interest.” The variety of arguments Jacob employed illustrates both the difficulties facing early Jacobean reformers and the often-unrecognized degree of flexibility and development in their thought and tactics. In asking for toleration as a royal favor, Jacob also illustrates the seventeenth-century nonconformist dilemma of achieving desired ends through doubtful means.
In 1909, the philosopher Arthur Drews unleashed a brief but furious debate when he published Die Christusmythe, in which he denied the historicity of Jesus Christ. This article seeks to understand the origin and significance of the “Christ Myth” controversy, focusing not simply on its scholarly content, but also on the historical contexts in which it unfolded, in particular the increasingly public and popular nature of theological debate in late Wilhelmine Germany. The article examines Drews's long-standing commitment to a monist religious philosophy inspired by his mentor Eduard von Hartmann, as well as his decision to intervene in the increasingly contentious debate around Protestant liberal theology's view of the “historical Jesus.” It also describes Drews's campaign to spread his views to a broader public through a series of lectures and debates, many of which were organized and promoted by the German Monist League. Although the actual theses of Die Christusmythe were not particularly original or well argued, the ensuing controversy placed Protestant liberal theology in a difficult position, which opponents were quick to exploit. While a wide range of Protestant theologians attempted to refute Drews, others moved away from a reliance on the historical Jesus. This shift was in part a response to intellectual difficulties in liberal theology that Drews helped expose, but it can also be seen as a reaction to the unseemly spectacle of university professors defending themselves against autodidacts and dilettantes, a situation that led some theologians to ground their positions on intellectual terrain less susceptible to such attacks.
In standard postcolonial political polemics in Uganda, colonial Anglican and Catholic churches have been castigated for fomenting and exacerbating Uganda's political divisions. These polemics overlook the growing ecumenical ties between Catholic and Anglican leaders that began in the 1950s and continued well into the 1980s. In particular, the shared experience of political oppression forged solidarity between erstwhile Catholic and Anglican rivals, especially during the Idi Amin dictatorship of 1971–1979 and the brutal civil war of 1979–1986. Drawing on an array of archival, oral, and secondary sources, this article offers a synthesis of Ugandan Christian leaders’ political engagement during the quarter-century following independence in 1962. I argue that church leaders in the 1960s embraced a politically quiescent, “social development” approach best embodied in the ecumenical Uganda Joint Christian Council. In the early 1970s, Anglican and Catholic leaders slowly withdrew from active collaboration with Amin's regime, embracing an approach I term “prudent recalcitrance,” entailing shifting stances of official silence, private lobbying, and carefully crafted written critiques. Finally, during the political unrest and civil war of the early 1980s, church leaders adopted a posture of “prophetic presence,” standing for and with the people in opposition to Milton Obote's increasingly violent state.