Medieval heresy: Popular movements from the Gregorian reform to the Reformation Hardcover – 1998
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Other movements that attract Dr. Lambert's attention are the spiritual Franciscans and Joachimites where an obsession with last days predictions seems a forerunner of today's dispensationalist heresies. Dr. Lambert also details the spread of Lollardism from Wyclif's influence and the rise of Jan Huss and the subsequent Bohemian wars. Interesting is how quickly each of these movements shattered into smaller spinoff groups as is so common with schismatic movements. It seems that once they leave the protection of Church authority, there is no limit to their divisions and fanatical schism over varied interpretations of scripture.
Finally Dr. Lambert explores the possible connection of these heresies with Luther and Calvin. They seem few though there are many similarities in doctrine. But those similarities seem to have fed the reformation movement to the point that the reformation traditions finally engulfed and eliminated the memory of those earlier heresies. All the while we are reminded that, in the area of heresy, there is truly nothing new under the sun. Whether they be an obsession of end times madness or extremism in clerical demands that leads to Donatists challenges, they are really no different from the first century heresies that attempted to drag the Church into obscurity and schism.
A well researched and interesting read. A few more details on doctrines that marked the movements would have been interesting as well but overall it is a thorough and enjoyable study. Well worth the time and a relatively easy though studious read.
To cover the vast array of major heretical movements over several centuries, the book assumes a basic grounding in medieval history and culture. It is readable without such a grounding, but may be more confusing.
A short glossary of heretics is provided. A timeline of major events would have been useful.
This is really an introductory work - one comes to know the major heresies about at the time, as well as how the Church attempted to deal with the situation and how the secular governments reacted. For those of us trying to get a start into the field, this book is most helpful. Not only does it give you an overview of the topic, but the amount of citation is extremely useful for further study. The short glossary is also helpful in keeping straight the various groups being mentioned.
Another benefit of this work is how it manages to avoid falling into an unfortunately typical problem - the genuflecting to heresy. While some historians tend to fall into seeing the heretics as wonderful, creative, populist bodies cruelly put down by the oppressive, corrupt, arrogant, mean, etc., etc. Church, Lambert thankfully takes a much more distanced and objective look at the matter. He relates who, what, when, where, and offers some discussion on why, without falling into the worship of the "wretched of the earth."
If there would be any critique, it would be the lack of a time table to keep the various groups organized in time (for the benefit of the reader). But, it doesn't really warrant a star marked off (oh, if only one could put in four and a half stars). This work is readable and easily accessable. Anyone interested in this topic or time period should pick this book up, whether academic or interested layperson. Highly recommended.