The Reception of Martin Luther in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England

Carl R. Trueman and Carrie Euler

in The Reception of Continental Reformation in Britain

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780197264683
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734878 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Reception of Martin Luther in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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By challenging any assumed passivity in British adoption of continental reform, reception calls for a closer scrutiny of their relationships. The reception of Martin Luther in England reflects his changing role among continental Protestants. This chapter identifies how English reception of Luther shifted over time. Whereas the early English writer William Tyndale adapted Luther’s theological writing to speak to his own preoccupations, John Foxe was largely responsible for Elizabethan translations of Luther’s commentaries that provided pastoral guidance for afflicted consciences. Luther’s translations continued to speak to troubled consciences in the seventeenth century, yet English divines more often cited Luther as a symbol than as a source in the heated debates over justification in the mid-seventeenth century. The symbolic status of Luther in theological disputes, however, did not simply introduce the indiscriminate use of his example.

Keywords: William Tyndale; theological writing; Martin Luther; John Foxe; continental Protestants

Chapter.  8038 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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