Thoughts about the SCSC Session: “New Approaches to the Radical Reformation”

Thoughts about the SCSC Session: “New Approaches to the Radical Reformation”

Here are a few bibliographical notes related to my contribution to the roundtable on 1 Nov. 2018 in Albuquerque, NM…

I have 3 proposals for the future of Radical Reformation Studies:

  1. Scholars shouldn’t study the Radical Reformation any longer, except as a once-inspiring and now very problematic heuristic tool or historiographical category.
  2. In its place, scholars of early modern “radicalism” (however understood) should study the transformation of new religious movements into established churches, which in turn were challenged in time by movements of reformers / freethinkers / heretics / dissenters / competing factions (or whatever).
  3. The study of transformations from movements to institutions to movements puts the study of heresy and dissent into a broader framework by reconnecting it with the study of confessionalization / confessional cultures, and by encouraging scholar of the German Reformations to join conversations with other scholars of early modern radicalisms.

  1. Scholars shouldn’t study the Radical Reformation any longer, except as a once-inspiring and now very problematic heuristic tool or historiographical category.
    • M. Driedger, “Against ‘the Radical Reformation’: On the Continuity between Early Modern Heresy-Making and
      Modern Historiography” in Radicalism and Dissent in the World of Protestant Reform. Eds. Bridget
      Heal and Anorthe Kremers. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017, pp. 139-161.
    • M. Driedger, “Thinking inside the Cages: Norman Cohn, Anabaptist Münster, and Polemically Inspired Assumptions about Apocalyptic Violence” in Nova Religio 21:4 (May 2018), 38-62.
  2. In its place, scholars of early modern “radicalism” (however understood) should study the transformation of new religious movements into established churches, which in turn were challenged in time by movements of reformers / freethinkers / heretics / dissenters / competing factions (or whatever).
    • Specifically on this dynamic in early 16th-century German history, see Hans-Jürgen Goertz’s work on religious movements, the radical Luther, anticlericalism, and Reformation history in general.
    • For a general sociological view of this dynamic in Christianity, see the work of David Martin, the British sociologist of religion. A good introduction is David Cayley’s interview with Martin (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-myth-of-the-secular-part-2-1.3143513).
    • For more about this dynamic in early modern dissenter communities (mostly in 17th-century Amsterdam), see the work of Leszek Kolakowski (Christians without churches, and the antinomies of religious freedom).
  3. The study of transformations from movements to institutions to movements puts the study of heresy and dissent into a broader framework by reconnecting it with the study of confessionalization / confessional cultures, and by encouraging scholar of the German Reformations to join conversations with other scholars of early modern radicalisms.
    • Nicholas Terpstra. Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World: An Alternative History of the Reformation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
      • For an even more global view, see Merry Wiesner-Hanks, ed., Religious Transformations in the Early Modern World: A Brief History with Documents. Boston and New York: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2009.
    • Glenn Burgess and Matthew Festenstein, eds., English Radicalism, 1550-1850. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
    • Ethan Shagan, The Rule of Moderation: Violence, Religion, and the Politics of Restraint in Early Modern England. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
    • Margaret Jacob, The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons, and Republicans. London: Allen & Unwin, 1981.
    • Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Other links:

  • “Amsterdamnified”: Gary Waite and Mike Driedger’s collaborative research project on “Religious Dissenters, Spiritualist Ideas and Urban Associationalism in the Emergence of the Early Enlightenment in England and the Low Countries, 1540-1700” (http://amsterdamnified.ca/project/)
  • Special issue special issue on “Reframing the History of New Religious Movements,” Nova Religio 21:4 (May 2018) (available online at http://nr.ucpress.edu/content/21/4/5)
  • Emodir: The Research Group in Early Modern Dissents and Radicalism (https://emodir.hypotheses.org/)

 

Jacob Aertsz Colom, Dutch Mennonite Anticonfessionalism, and the Persistence of Dissent in the 17th Century

Jacob Aertsz Colom, Dutch Mennonite Anticonfessionalism, and the Persistence of Dissent in the 17th Century

The text below dates from 2013. It is the previous unpublished version of a paper I presented at the annual meeting of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the moment there are no notes with the text. I plan to update the text to include at least a bibliography. The title of the paper I presented in San Juan is “Mennonite Printers, Anticonfessionalism, and the Persistence of Dissent in the Netherlands.” Except for updating the title for this post, I have only edited the text of the 2013 paper very lightly.

Part of the reason for publishing the 2013 paper as a blog post now is that my grad student, Brookelnn Cooper, is finishing off her MA research paper, and she is making the case for Colom as the printer / publisher of Menno Simons’ Blasphemy. For more about the Blasphemy, see my post about it here.

Image details coming soon…

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New publications about Ana/baptist Münster

New publications about Ana/baptist Münster

NOTE: This post will focus on literature from approximately the last 10 years (i.e., since the publication of Bernhard Rothmann and the Reformation in Münster).

More literature is on the way. Stay tuned. (LAST UPDATED: 12 May 2018)

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Using Zotero

Using Zotero

This is a quick introduction to using Zotero, a bibliographic tool that is unique and powerful because it allows for individual and collaborative work. This is an early draft of a page that will eventually be available at the Amsterdamnified Project webpage. I’m making this draft for Gary Waite‘s graduate students at the University of New Brunswick at Fredericton, and for my students at Brock University. In other words, it’s main audience is intermediate-level university students. Suggestions for improving this page are welcome. Read more

The Blasphemy of Jan of Leiden: A research plan

The Blasphemy of Jan of Leiden: A research plan

ORIGINAL POST (May 2017): The Blasphemy of Jan of Leiden is the oldest text by Menno Simons, and it indicates that he was an early opponent of the Anabaptists of Münster. This, at least, has long been the consensus view about early Mennonite history. A challenge for researchers, however, is that the oldest copy of The Blasphemy is from 1627. This post introduces a project to find out more about this 1627 text.

UPDATE (April 2018): The transcription project is still in planning. Brookelnn Cooper has completed her archival research and is now working on her MA paper, tentatively titled “Identifying the Anonymous Printer of Menno Simons’ The Blasphemy of Jan van Leiden (1627): A Typographical Analysis.”

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Münster / Monster: A Twitter Essay

MuensterMonster-Storify-2015

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Images of the Lamb Church (aka Singelkerk) in Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Doopsgezind (aka Mennonite) church on the inner city canal ring called the Singel is a major landmark in the history of Dutch dissenters. Its modern address is Singel 452. The building did not and still does not look like a church from the outside. Since Mennonites did not enjoy rights of public worship in most part of the Netherlands until the 19th century, they usually made the outside of their meeting houses to look like a regular building (for more, see the Wikipedia article on clandestine churches). The Singelkerk is a major example of a Dutch clandestine church.

The Singel Church was the epicentre of the so-called “War of the Lambs” in the middle of the 17th century (see the building’s symbol). Read more

EMoDiR: Research Group in Early Modern Dissents and Radicalism

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Quotation: F.A. van der Kemp on the American Revolution as a model for the Dutch (1782)

In America the Sun of Salvation has risen, which will shine its rays upon us provided we so desire. Only America can revive our Trade and our Shipping…. America provides us again, if we dare look at it, a striking proof of how Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. America can teach us how to resist the degeneration of National Character, how to check the corruption of morals, how to prevent bribery, how to choke off the seeds of tyranny and restore moribund Liberty to health.

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The Publisher of the Book Forged in Hell: The Output of Jan Rieuwertsz Sr., Spinoza’s Intellectual Agent

Nadler-BookForgedInHellThe title of this post is an allusion to Steven Nadler’s A Book Forged in Hell. That 2011 book is about Baruch Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, a work that scandalized secular and ecclesiastical authorities in the later 17th century — and has influenced philosophers and historians in recent years. The purpose of this post is to share a bibliography compiled by Piet Visser and his students in the 1990s. Piet retired in June 2014 from his professorship at the Mennonite seminary at the Free University in Amsterdam. Before that he was the chief curator of rare books and professor of book history at the University of Amsterdam. It’s in this earlier role that the list that you can find below originated.

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