Everyone has heard of the word heresy. Attached to such famous historical figures as Galileo and Joan of Arc, the word heresy today brings to mind an image of individuals or groups that are considered to have been ahead of their contemporaries in thought or action. Prior to the seventeenth century, however, there was not such a high regard for those who digressed from the mainstream. On the contrary, persecution of "heretics" was rampant from the time of the Roman Empire through the sixteenth century. Despite this history of overt intolerance, standard reference works on the subject have been few; and those that do exist are far from comprehensive in scope. Now, the Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics offers access to the multitude of controversial people, religious sects, spiritual movements, and other historical events related to heresy. Chas S. Clifton, the author of this authoritative compendium of heresies and heretics, draws upon primary sources and historical analysis to provide insight into such key historical figures as Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor, and Conrad of Marburg, a ruthless heretic hunter during the Inquisition. Numerous illustrations further depict the prominent people, movements, places, texts, and terms included in this book; and extensive cross-referencing increases the reader's understanding of the social, political, and cultural aspects surrounding each entry. The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics will prove fascinating to the academic and layperson alike. Further research on the topic is encouraged by the full listing of sources in the bibliography at the end of the book.
A work listing "heretics, organized heresies, and schools of thought or key ideas that were judged heretical," the "Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics" provides an alphabetically arranged overview of the key heretical movements and individuals from roughly the time of Jesus' crucifixion to the sixteenth century. Not counting cross-references, the work features 127 entries ranging from "Abelard, Peter" to "Wycliffe, John". Entries vary in length from just over 50 words ("Concorezanes") to close to 5,000 words ("Albigenses, Albigensians"; "Gnostics"; and "Witchcraft"). A few illustrations--primarily reproductions of woodcuts or other artwork--are scattered throughout the volume; a 10-page subject index completes the work Clifton, a free-lance writer who has been a contributing editor to the journal "Gnosis" and editor of a recently released volume on witchcraft entitled "The Modern Craft Movement" (1992), has written a work clearly intended for the general reader and not the scholar. His well-written introduction provides a survey of the various heretical movements throughout the history of the Christian church up to the time of Luther, at which point "the line between heresy and reform grows faint." (It is odd, however, that an entry is not devoted to Luther himself.) The entries are written in a manner that assumes virtually no knowledge of the subject matter. For example, in the "Tanchelm" entry, the author parenthetically defines the Holy Roman Empire as "chiefly a German empire" and Flanders as "an area chiefly within present-day Belgium." The use of bibliographies at the ends of entries is also omitted "in order to keep the text uncluttered and more accessible to the casual or nonspecialized reader." Unfortunately, this makes the work of limited value to those trying to find additional information on a given subject. Such users must instead scan through the 58 items of the unannotated bibliography in the back of the volume Most entries in the book under review may be found in such larger works as the "New Catholic Encyclopedia" or the "Encyclopedia of Religion", both of which also feature more extensive bibliographies. The specificity of subject matter in the "Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics" duplicates information already available in many libraries, and the lack of bibliographies limits the work's usefulness as a first-choice source. Nevertheless, it is a unique volume that high school, public, and academic libraries that cater to clients interested in church history may wish to consider as a secondary source of information.
Substantial articles about movements and leaders condemned by the Catholic Church, and some of the people who did the condemning, torturing, and burning. Does not cover, for example, the radical sects of the 1640s in England, or the major Protestant reformers who were condemned in their time. Includes many reproductions of medieval illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Heretics were not just forward-thinkers a little ahead of their time. In many instances, they rocked institutions to their very foundations; and oftentimes died for their convictions. For more than 1,500 years, determining what constituted heresy was very serious business. The early Church became a hotbed of competing statements of faith, as Christians debated among themselves over the parameters of their faith. In the Middle Ages when Church and state aligned, issues of heresy surfaced anew--often inextricably tied to regional rivalries, class struggle, politics, and the lust for power. This book includes more than 130 detailed entries--from Peter Abelard to Witchcraft--covering heresies from the first through the 16th centuries and describing individuals, religious sects, spiritual movements, and historical events that fall under the heretical umbrella. black-and-white illustrations.