Public Religious Disputation in England, 1558–1626  book cover
1st Edition

Public Religious Disputation in England, 1558–1626

ISBN 9781472415554
Published September 25, 2014 by Routledge
252 Pages

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Book Description

With a focus on England from the accession of Elizabeth I to the mid-1620s, this book examines the practice of direct, scholarly disputation between fundamentally opposing and oftentimes antagonistic Catholic, Protestant and nonconformist puritan divines. Introducing a form of discourse hitherto neglected in studies of religious controversy, the volume works to rehabilitate a body of material only previously examined as part of the great, subjective mass of polemic produced in the wake of the Reformation. In so doing, it argues that public religious disputation - debate between opposing clergymen, arranged according to strict academic formulae - can offer new insights into contemporary beliefs, thought processes and conceptions of religious identity, as well as an accessible and dramatic window into the major theological controversies of the age. Formal disputation crossed confessional lines, and here provides an opportunity for a broad, comparative analysis. More than any other type of interaction or material, these encounters - and the dialogic accounts they produced - displayed the shared methods underpinning religious divisions, allowing Catholic and reformed clergymen to meet on the same field. The present volume asserts the significance of public religious disputation (and accounts thereof) in this regard, and explores their use of formal logic, academic procedure and recorded dialogue form to bolster religious controversy. In this, it further demonstrates how we might begin to move from the surviving source material for these encounters to the events themselves, and how the disputations then offer a remarkable new glimpse into the construction, rationalization and expression of post-Reformation religious argument.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; The culture of controversy; The disputation process; Disputation exploited?; Disputation applied; Disputation distinguished; Disputation opposed; Determination; Bibliography; Index.

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Joshua Rodda is an early career researcher and tutor in the History Department at the University of Nottingham, where in 2012 he completed a doctoral dissertation on public religious disputation in post-Reformation England. This, his first book, represents the culmination of more than five years’ research, speaking and publication on the topic.


'Rodda has done a fine job, and raised various questions for further study or, indeed, an edition of extant texts of disputations as a handbook. The monograph because of its terse style demands careful reading, but the effort is worthwhile.' Journal of Jesuit Studies