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Protestantism after 500 Years$
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Thomas Albert Howard and Mark A. Noll

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190264789

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190264789.001.0001

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Myth and History in Interpreting Protestantism

Myth and History in Interpreting Protestantism

Recent Historiographical Trends

(p.167) 7 Myth and History in Interpreting Protestantism
Protestantism after 500 Years

Matthew Lundin

Oxford University Press

The more that scholars have examined the legacy of 1517, the less confident they have become to proclaim the Reformation as a decisive turning point. Specialized studies have made a familiar Reformation strange, ethnography has largely replaced historical theology as the primary method of studying early modern Protestantism, and scholars have shifted their attention to the deep structural forces affecting all of society. This chapter charts this historiographical shift. It also explores recent attempts at reviving grand narratives of the Reformation as a “religious revolution.” The chapter argues that despite new attempts to contextualize the Reformation, many still find its significance in the degree to which it anticipated modernity. It is only by setting early modern Protestantism fully within its original context—one in which the church was as powerful a reality as the state or the market today—that can one begin to understand its historical importance.

Keywords:   Reformation, historiography, social history, contextualization, ethnography, confessionalization, grand narrative

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