Brad Gregory's The Unintended Reformation: How A Religious Revolution Secularized Society (2012) is a book whose aspirations dovetail with the aims of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. The journal fosters scholarship that crosses current disciplines and their periodization of western history, that is both committed to historical research and attentive to the theoretical models shaping such research. Gregory's The Unintended Reformation not only meets this criteria but goes beyond by unfolding an immensely erudite narrative of modernity and its sources. It is a work on the ideological and historical origins of the contemporary western world. What makes it especially relevant to JMEMS is that it puts the Reformation at the center of its story: how has it come about that contemporary western people are no longer capable of rational deliberation, capable of resolving substantial moral disagreements? Gregory's account of how we have become what we are centers its genealogical answer on the European Reformation of the sixteenth century and on the influences and “unintended” consequences of this Reformation. And Gregory's concentration on the world historical significance of the Reformation continually glances at that which the agents of this Reformation sought to reform: the Christian church and culture of the Middle Ages. It is a work that compels us to dissolve conventional periodization. And it is a work by a historian who is also a moralist, which has elicited both enthusiastic affirmation and passionate opposition. This special issue contributes to ongoing discussion of issues raised in The Unintended Reformation that many in today's universities feel are crucial to debate.
Research Article|September 01 2016
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