Review Of "Salvation At Stake: Christian Martyrdom In Early Modern Europe" By B. S. Gregory

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This is an especially fine study of martyrdom in 16th-century Europe. Drawing on a wide range of sources, among them pamphlets, hymns, sermons, woodcuts, and engravings, as well as martyrologies and theological and devotional writings, Gregory (history, Stanford Univ.) presents a well-rounded and enlightening account of the thousands of Protestants, Anabaptists, and Roman Catholics who were executed for religious reasons in the ferment following the Reformation. Gregory's comparative methodology clearly demonstrates that the three major religious groups shared convictions about the treatment of dissidents and that these common sensibilities, in spite of other differences, made credible what in our century many deem bizarre: the eagerness of martyrs to die, authorities to kill, martyrologists to memorialize, and controversialists to dispute. Gregory also clarifies the formative influence that martyrs had on the religious consciousness of succeeding generations and their ambiguous legacy for our own. Contemporary readers will find valuable the author's introductory methodological reflections. Recommended for all college and university readers. Salvation at Stake was awarded The Thomas J. Wilson Prize of Harvard University Press.


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