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He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Benedict, Philip. Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism. Yale, $50

Canadian Journal of History: “an invaluable synthesis…This elegantly written book is a masterpiece that brilliantly combines a compelling narrative, a superb overview of existing scholarship, and fresh interpretations. A must read for Reformation specialists, this synthetic history of the Reformed movement—the first such work in a half century—is also most accessible to the general reader.” H-Net: “This is not your father’s history of Calvinism, but an improved version that brings the best of modern scholarship on the early modern period to a new generation of readers…Benedict has done a remarkable job of synthesis, presenting a coherent and very readable portrait of a movement that profoundly influenced political and cultural developments through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Even more remarkably, he has succeeded in writing a book that can be read by several different audiences…McNeill’s book served its purpose for more than a generation of scholars, but it is time to be retired, now that Benedict has provided us with such a splendid replacement.” Church History: “Impressive both for its scope and for its erudition. Benedict has written a comprehensive survey of Calvinism in the early modern period, and it will be the standard work on the subject for years to come….a work of major significance. All students of both the history of Calvinism and the history of early modern Europe need to be familiar with Benedict’s narrative, arguments, and conclusions.” Choice: “A thoughtful, learned, and lucid synthesis…This is an important book of lasting value.” American Historical Review: “the first English-language synthesis of Reformed Protestantism in nearly fifty years, and it replaces John T. McNeill’s The History and Character of Calvinism, which students and teachers of the Reformation have relied on for half a century…replete with a scholarly apparatus of more than a hundred pages of references to primary and secondary sources…Benedict argues persuasively that Reformed believers tended to share the same general economic and political outlooks as their Lutheran and Catholic counterparts…a laudable achievement. Although I expected to find greater coverage of the French Huguenots in these pages, overall the book is well balanced and for the most part a pleasure to read.”


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