The 'problem of authority' was not an invention of the Protestant Reformation, but, as the essays contained in this volume demonstrate, its discussion, in ever greater complexity, was one of the ramifications (if not causes) of the deepening divisions within the Christian church in the sixteenth century. Any optimism that the principle of sola scriptura might provide a vehicle for unity and concord in the post-Reformation church was soon to be dented by a growing uncertainty and division, evident even in early evangelical writing and preaching. Representing a new approach to an important subject this volume of essays widens the understanding and interpretation of authority in the debates of the Reformation. The fruits of original and recent research, each essay builds with careful scholarship on solid historiographical foundations, ensuring that the content and ultimate conclusions do much to challenge long-standing assumptions about perceptions of authority in the aftermath of the Reformation. Rather than dealing with individual sources of authority in isolation, the volume examines the juxtapositions of and negotiations between elements of the authoritative synthesis, and thereby throws new light on the nature of authority in early-modern Europe as a whole. This volume is thus an ideal vehicle with which to bring high quality, new, and significant research into the public domain for the first time, whilst adding substantially to the existing corpus of Reformation scholarship.
Helen Parish is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Reading. She is the author of Clerical Marriage and the English Reformation (2000), Monks, Miracles and Magic (2005), Clerical Celibacy in the West: c.1100-1700 (2010) and a number of articles on religion, church, and clergy in the early modern period. Elaine Fulton is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham, UK. She is the author of Catholic Belief and Survival in Late Sixteenth-Century Vienna (2007) and co-editor of Communities of Devotion (2011). Peter Webster is Web Archiving Engagement and Liaison Manager at the British Library. His research focusses on issues of church and state and on the religious arts, in both early modern and twentieth century Britain.
'This anthology provides readers with a detailed, nuanced understanding of the searching questions and debate regarding the nature of authority occasioned by the Reformation implementation of the principle of sola scriptura.' Lutheran Quarterly