This special issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies explores the many continuities between medieval and early modern ideas about the sacred object. Until recently, the European Protestant Reformations were usually understood to mark a sharp break in the culture of the sacred object. Critical approaches to the status of religious objects across the period have often reflected this narrative of rupture: before the Reformations, belief that the divine inhered in the material world, and after the Reformations, concern about idolatry; before the Reformations, the sacred object, and after the Reformations, the holy book. The essays of this special issue diverge from narratives of cultural rupture, iconoclasm, or violence against the sacred object. Instead, they attend to the complexities and continuities of cultural translation, whether between medieval and early modern, Catholic and Protestant, secular and sacred, or natural and constructed.

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