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Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World$
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Kathleen Lynch

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199643936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199643936.001.0001

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Writing religious identities in Bedford

Writing religious identities in Bedford

Exemplary lives in historical perspective

(p.179) 4 Writing religious identities in Bedford
Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World

Kathleen Lynch

Oxford University Press

Though John Bunyan maintained a critical distance from what he took to be a conventionalized story form, his Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners became the paradigmatic Protestant conversion narrative. Further, its deep epistemological uncertainty gives it an important place in the history of differentiation between human and divine authorities. But Grace Abounding is seldom studied for an understanding of the relations between individual and communal identities. This chapter studies Bunyan as a member of a specific community in formation and under duress. With John Gifford, the chapter illustrates the communal investments in an exemplary life. With Agnes Beaumont and John Child, it details the prices exacted for deviations from that model. With the bookseller Francis Smith, it examines arguments for the liberty of conscience and resistance to the Clarendon Code.

Keywords:   John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Agnes Beaumont, John Child, Francis Smith, Clarendon Code

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