Victoria's Reviews > Christianity in the West, 1400-1700

Christianity in the West, 1400-1700 by John Bossy
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's review
Jan 18, 10

bookshelves: non-fiction, history, 2007, comps-eme, 2010, history-early-modern, history-europe
Read in January, 2007

Re-read January 18, 2010. I don't like this book any more on re-read, which is a shame, as my supervisor loves it. In an overly subtle argument (which I will admit to not having got the first time, and probably only understand now because NT explained it to me), Bossy argues that in the fifteenth century, "Christianity" encompassed a society of believers who were united through belief and the practice of ritual; but that by the end of the seventeenth century, "Christianity" was, instead, a collection of societies that were delineated less by practice and more by the written, printed and spoken word, and were united less through ritual than through a collected awareness of the ideas (expressed through words) that marked their unique corner of Christian society. A compelling argument, but utterly exhausting to read. Expects a high degree of familiarity with Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist (and other radical reform groups) theologies -- which I have, but oh my god so exhausting to puzzle through, as Bossy seems to think (for example) that the ridiculousness of a Ranter catechism (p. 114) is self-evident.

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