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Renaissance & Reformation Literature

There have been few cultural movements as mutually sustaining and as diametrically opposed as the Renaissance and the Reformation. Coming on the heels of the Medieval era, both constituted responses to the supremacy of the Church—the first to the Church's appeals to tradition over reason, the second to the Church's insistence on its own authority over that of Scripture. The Renaissance and the Reformation both needed each other, but found little ground for cooperation or agreement.

When we speak of the Church in this context we're speaking not of the universal Church that constitutes Christ's body, but of the Roman Catholic Church headquartered in Rome and for several centuries the broker of spiritual authority everywhere the Gospel had been preached. Philosophy took a sharp turn after Aquinas, and instead of simply accepting Church dogma as the starting place for all intellectual inquiry, thinkers adopted a more anthropocentric (man-centered) attitude.

Eventually this would look like Descartes positing himself as the chief referent for all perceived reality (and thereby laying the foundation for philosophical solipsism and existentialism), but for the Renaissance thinkers it meant rooting their ideas in the works of Classical authors like Aristotle and Plato, and using inquiry as the basis for intellectual progress. Many of them still professed allegiance to Christianity (many for political reasons), but their true allegiences lay elsewhere. Wisdom was no longer the basis for philosophy; Truth was, and since the Church couldn't necessarily be trusted as the source of truth, man would have to construct his own using only his mental capacities.

These attitudes would become much more realized during the Enlightenment, but everything Rousseau and his ilk thought up had been established by their Renaissance forebears. The appeals to reason didn't have entirely negative effects, however. Men of God began investigating the Scriptures for themselves (formerly the sole province of certain Church theologians), and realized the true authority for Christian belief and practice was Christ as mediated through His Word, not the papacy or Church hierarchy (which, moreover, had as much clout in the temporal realm as the spiritual).

In a series of acts that may have been taken from any dramatic novel, Martin Luther laid the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation. Not least of his efforts was to interpret Scripture by the rubric of salvation by faith alone, thus controverting the Church's claims as the locus of salvific work. Luther (a bona fide genius) was soon followed by others (also bona fide geniuses mostly), and the beginnings of the separation of Church and State were formed in the sense that there was a move away from State-sponsored churches toward independent institutions of worship and discipleship.

A state of conflict this extreme historically either kills literary output for a time, or fans the flames of creativity to conflagration status. The Renaissance and Reformation had the latter effect, and soon Europe was burning with some of the greatest works the world has ever seen. Writers were still concerned with imparting ideas (perhaps more than ever), but they were also more directly concerned with the construction of the langauge and the musicality of words.

Who were these craftsmen, you may ask? William Shakespeare. Edmund Spenser. Desiderius Erasmus. Christopher Marlowe. Get the picture? Even Martin Luther and John Calvin penned works of enduring literary and theological significance. It was a time of change, of adherence to excellence, of great intellectual fervor and activity. It was the age of Galileo and da Vinci and Michelangelo. It was a glorious age in Europe!

Like all ages of men, it didn't last. Yet the twin flames (or spectres, depending on your perspective) of the Renaissance and the Reformation continue to guide thought, literature and religious practice all over the world. Some of the greatest works of all time were written during this (chronologically rather vague) era, and any student of literature and ideas needs to immerse himself in the writings each movement produced if he is to call himself educated, or thinks he understands the current situation. Currently our selection is a bit Shakespeare-heavy, but we're working on that.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

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134 Items found Print
Alexandria Tutorials Summer Shakespeare Course
from Dover Publications
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$12.60
All's Well That Ends Well
Folger Shakespeare Library
by William Shakespeare
from Washington Square Press
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.99
All's Well that Ends Well
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
for 10th grade-adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.00
Antony and Cleopatra
Dover Thrift Editions
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
Historical Tragedy for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.50
Antony and Cleopatra
Oxford School Shakespeare
by William Shakespeare
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$9.95 $7.00 (1 in stock)
Antony and Cleopatra
Folger Shakespeare Library
by William Shakespeare
from Simon and Schuster
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.99 $3.00 (3 in stock)
As You Like It
Dover Thrift Editions
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
Comedy for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.00
As You Like It
Folger Shakespeare Library
by William Shakespeare
from Washington Square Press
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.99 $3.00 (2 in stock)
As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$9.95
Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
by Benvenuto Cellini
from International Collectors Library
for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Bondage of the Will
by Martin Luther
from Baker Academics
for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$15.99
Book of the Courtier
by Baldesar Castiglione
from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Comedy of Errors
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
for 10th grade-adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.00
Comedy Of Errors
Folger Shakespeare Library
by William Shakespeare
from Washington Square Press
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.95 $3.00 (1 in stock)
Complete Poems of Christopher Marlowe
by Christopher Marlowe
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$2.50
Complete Sonnets
Dover Thrift Editions
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
Lyrical Poetry for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$2.50
Comus
by John Milton
from Macmillan
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: APO-05A)
$7.00 (1 in stock)
Conquest of New Spain
by Bernal Diaz del Castillo
Reprint from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Discarded Image
by C. S. Lewis
from Cambridge University
Medieval and Renaissance Lit Guide/Resource for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$19.99
Dr. Faustus
by Christopher Marlowe
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$2.50
Dr. Faustus
by Christopher Marlowe
from Cambridge University
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions
by CRC Publications
from CRC Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Creeds, Confessions & Catechisms (Location: C05-01E)
$6.80
Eight Famous Elizabethan Plays
by Christopher Marlowe, et. al.
from Modern Library
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Elfin Knight
by Edmund Spenser & Toby Sumpter
from Canon Press
for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$20.00
Essays of Michael Montaigne
by Michel de Montaigne
3rd edition from Penguin Classics
for 11th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$17.00
Essays of Montaigne
by Michel de Montaigne
from Grolier Publishing
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Everything Shakespeare Book
by Peter Rubie
from Adams Media Corp.
for 7th-12th grade
in Shakespeare Materials (Location: A06-00E)
$6.50 (1 in stock)
Experiment in Criticism
by C. S. Lewis
Reissue from Cambridge University
Literature Guide/Resource for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$19.99
Faerie Queene
Penguin Classics
by Edmund Spenser
from Penguin Putnam
Allegory/Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$20.00
Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves
by Roy Maynard & Edmund Spenser
from Canon Press
Allegory/Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$17.00
First Voyage to America
by Christopher Columbus
from Dover Publications
Historical Primary Sources for 10th-Adult
in Exploration (1450-1900) (Location: B01-05A)
$9.95 $6.00 (1 in stock)
Four Voyages
by Christopher Columbus
from Penguin Putnam
Historical Primary Sources for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$12.00 $7.50 (2 in stock)
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
by John Foxe
from Baker Books
Historical Non-fiction for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.59
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
by John Foxe
from Bridge-Logos
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$13.59
Hamlet
Dover Thrift Editions
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.50 $2.00 (1 in stock)
Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$9.95
Hamlet
Folger Shakespeare Library
by William Shakespeare
from Washington Square Press
for 10th grade-adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.99
Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
from Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$6.95 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Henry IV, Part 1
Dover Thrift Editions
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$2.50
Henry IV, Part I
by William Shakespeare
from Bantam Books
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Henry IV, Part One
Folger Shakespeare Library
by William Shakespeare
from Washington Square Press
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.99 $3.00 (1 in stock)
Henry V
Oxford School Shakespeare
by William Shakespeare & Roma Gill, editor
from Oxford University
Historical Drama for 7th-10th grade
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$9.95
Henry V
Folger Library
by William Shakespeare
from Washington Square Press
Historical Drama for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$5.99
Henry V
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
Historical Drama for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.00
Hyde Park
by James Shirley
from Methuen
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
In Praise of Folly
Dover Thrift Editions
by Desiderius Erasmus
from Dover Publications
Religious Satire for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$3.00
Institutes of Christian Religion (abridged)
by John Calvin
from Baker Books
for 10th-12th grade
in Reformed Theology (Location: C06-01A)
$15.19 $8.40 (1 in stock)
Institutes of the Christian Religion
by John Calvin
from Eerdmans
Theology for 10th-Adult
in Reformed Theology (Location: C06-01A)
$16.80 (1 in stock)
Institutes of the Christian Religion
by John Calvin
from Westminster John Knox Press
Theology for 11th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$35.00 (1 in stock)
Institutes of the Christian Religion
by John Calvin
Revised from Hendrickson Publishers
for Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)
$19.96
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