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  • The Formation of Clerical and Confessional Identities in Early Modern Europe
  • R. Po-chia Hsia
The Formation of Clerical and Confessional Identities in Early Modern Europe. Edited by Wim Janse and Barbara Pitkin. [The Dutch Review of Church History, Volume 85.] (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. 2006. Pp. viii, 569. €169,00; $228.00.)

Excluding the book reviews appended at the end, this volume collects twenty-four essays from two conferences under the procrustean frame of the title indicated. The editors have divided the essays into three parts. Seven are grouped under "Education and Theological Training,"which deal with the theological and pedagogic undertakings of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands and Germany, giving this section a strong thematic unity; they represent the contributions by Riemer Faber, Stefan Ehrenpreis, Leendert Groenendijk, Andreas Mühling, Wim Janse, F. G. M. Broeyer, and Karin Maag. A second group of eight essays in Part Two, "Interpretation of Scripture and Confessional Preaching," represents two directions of research:while Raymond Blacketer, G. Sujin Pak, Barbara Pitkin, and Rady Roldan-Figueroa analyze Protestant (mostly Reformed)biblical exegesis, Robert Christman, Sven Tode, Emily Michelson, and Jason Sager devote their essays to the study of sermons. A third group of nine essays goes in different directions in spite of the loosely worded theme, "Construction of Clerical and Communal Identities":three deal with England (Robert Scully, Gary Jenkins, and Ellen Macek), two with Italy (Kathleen Comerford and Wietse de Boer), and one each with Scotland (Margo Todd), Germany (David Fors Freeman), and The Netherlands (Gerrit Voogt). For the readers of this journal, there are nine contributions on Catholicism that may be of more interest which will be discussed below.

Robert Scully examines the Jesuit mission strategy in Tudor England. Its focus on the gentry and aristocracy reflected both the family origins of many of the English Jesuits themselves as well as a strategy to secure protection and maximum political influence. Highly successful in counties removed from central governmental intervention, such as in Lancashire, this Jesuit strategy of gentry missions came under criticisms by secular priests and limited, in the long run, the social impact of recusant Catholicism. That last subject is the theme of Gary W. Jenkins's examination of recusant political thought in the first decade of the reign of Elizabeth. Bested by the Anglican rhetoric of monarchical apotheosis, as in the writings of Bishop Jewel, the recusants found themselves caught between loyalty to their earthly sovereign and a universal ecclesiastical authority. In her essay, Ellen Macek examines advice manuals for both Anglican and Catholic clerics between 1560 and 1660 to reconstruct the different ideals for the clergy. Turning to Spain, Patrick J. O'Banion studies confessional manuals to argue for the importance of negotiations in the relationship between clergy and laity. Taking a wider perspective, Kathleen M. Comerford examines the professionalization of the clergy in the dioceses of Florence, Lucca, and Arezzo after the Council of Trent. Comparing the synodal [End Page 313] and episcopal acts with the records of diocesan visitations, she concludes that Tridentine norms were hardly fulfilled up to the middle of the seventeenth century. Arguing against the theories of professionalization and confessionalization, Wietse de Boer pleads for reflecting on the individual experiences of the parish clergy and offers the interesting example of Girolamo Magni, a parish priest in Tuscany who kept a personal journal from 1531 to 1595.

R. Po-chia Hsia
Pennsylvania State University


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