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Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and Its Reformation Opponents [Hardcover]

By James Simpson (Author)
Our Price $ 23.76  
Retail Value $ 27.95  
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Item Number 100492  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   368
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.42" Width: 5.94" Height: 1.21"
Weight:   1.17 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2007
Publisher   Belknap Press
ISBN  0674026713  
EAN  9780674026711  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

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.


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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Workmanlike and repetitious indeed  Jan 11, 2008
Publishers Weekly has it about right: Simpson's writing is pretty pedestrian and repeats itself entirely too much.

That being said, he does provide some valuable insights into how the early fundamentalist Christians in England thought and read, insights which make the reader realize, sadly, how little has changed since the 16th century and to what extent we in the US today are the spiritual heirs of Tyndale et al.

Also, Simpson logically relies quite a bit on textual studies for his analysis, but it seems to me that they are more of a one-trick pony than anything else: after you get past the initial "revelation" that a text is never to be taken at face value, everything else is taxonomy and the usefulness of such studies becomes more and more questionable.

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