Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Reformation Experience by Eric Ives

Ives argues that, if you want to understand why the world thinks the way it does today, you must consider the relevance of the Reformation. He sets out to tell the Reformation story in light of recent scholarship, from the bottom up. He concentrates primarily on England.
The first section of the book looks at religion before the Reformation and what Christianity meant at the grassroots level. He describes a typical service, relates religious activities and customs, and what biblical texts were available.
The second section looks at the context and character of the Reformation in Europe. He identifies the main participants, what the issues were, and what changes were seen in Spain, Italy and France.
The final section investigates the governmental and local responses in England, as well as what had and had not been achieved towards the end of the sixteenth century. He reviews Henry VIII's reformation, the ensuing protests, enacting The Book of Common Prayer, changes in belief and practices by the time Edward VI died, return to Catholicism under Mary, persecution and the resulting martyrs, Protestant survival, Protestant Elizabeth, the hybrid church with Reformed doctrine but traditional Catholic structure, puritans, the impact of the accessibility of the Bible in English, and other consequences of the Reformation.

I really appreciated Ives' concentration on what the Reformation meant to individual Christians in England. He helps us understand the differences in worship experiences and religious practices. I usually read books on the Reformation that deal with doctrine and belief. This book is a refreshing change.
While there is some information included regarding the Reformation on the continent, Ives certainly concentrates on England. Anyone wanting to understand Christianity in England during the sixteenth century will find much to appreciate in this book.

Eric Ives is Emeritus Professor of English History at the University of Birmingham, and an expert on the Tudor period. He is the author of Life and Death of Anne Boleyn and Jane Gray: A Tudor Mystery. He died in the fall of 2012.

Kregel Publications, 320 pages. Publisher's product page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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