Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and Its Reformation Opponents

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2007 - History - 346 pages
3 Reviews

The evidence is everywhere: fundamentalist reading can stir passions and provoke violence that changes the world. Amid such present-day conflagrations, this illuminating book reminds us of the sources, and profound consequences, of Christian fundamentalism in the sixteenth century.

James Simpson focuses on a critical moment in early modern England, specifically the cultural transformation that allowed common folk to read the Bible for the first time. Widely understood and accepted as the grounding moment of liberalism, this was actually, Simpson tells us, the source of fundamentalism, and of different kinds of persecutory violence. His argument overturns a widely held interpretation of sixteenth-century Protestant reading--and a crucial tenet of the liberal tradition.

After exploring the heroism and achievements of sixteenth-century English Lutherans, particularly William Tyndale, Burning to Read turns to the bad news of the Lutheran Bible. Simpson outlines the dark, dynamic, yet demeaning paradoxes of Lutheran reading: its demands that readers hate the biblical text before they can love it; that they be constantly on the lookout for unreadable signs of their own salvation; that evangelical readers be prepared to repudiate friends and all tradition on the basis of their personal reading of Scripture. Such reading practice provoked violence not only against Lutheranism's stated enemies, as Simpson demonstrates; it also prompted psychological violence and permanent schism within its own adherents.

The last wave of fundamentalist reading in the West provoked 150 years of violent upheaval; as we approach a second wave, this powerful book alerts us to our peril.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - karl.steel - LibraryThing

Several months ago, visiting family, someone mentioned that he had just returned from a sermon on Ezekiel 16. We asked, "what did the pastor say?" "Do what God wants or else." If you don't know ... Read full review

Review: Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and Its Reformation Opponents

User Review  - Jonathan Lyons - Goodreads

A radical reinterpretation of the roots of religious fundamentalism in the Christian tradition. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Two Hundred Years of Biblical Violence
10
Good Bible News
34
Salvation Reading and Textual Hatred
68
The Literal Sense and Predestination
106
Bible Reading Persecution and Paranoia
142
History as Error
184
Thomas More and Textual Trust
222
The Tragic Scene of Early Modern Reading
260
Abbreviations
284
Notes
285
Index
341
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information