Fear of Atheism

Antoinina Bevan Zlatar

in Reformation Fictions

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604692
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729430 | DOI:
Fear of Atheism

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This chapter argues that George Gifford's Countrie diuinitie (1581) and I.B.'s much less well-known A dialogue between a vertuous gentleman and a popish priest (1581) form a polemical pair, and that they are particularly instructive when read in tandem. The unreformed country parishioner personified in Gifford's ‘Atheos’ and the unreformed country parson personified in I.B.'s ‘Neverbegood’ give shape to perennial puritan concerns, namely that the English ministers are readers not preachers, and as a consequence, the English people are ‘atheists’, but ‘halfly reformed’. Whereas Gifford stages a failed conversion, I.B. has the gentleman parson ‘Neverbegood’ experience a complete change of heart via the agency of a gentleman wayfarer, opposing conversion narratives that convey powerful messages.

Keywords: Elizabethan ministry; uneducated ministers; gentlemen clerics; simony; pluralism; ideal preachers; catechizing; unreformed country parishioners; George Gifford's Countrie diuinitie

Chapter.  14454 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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