Beyond the Persecuting Society

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1997-10-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Pennsylvania Pr

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There is a myth--easily shattered--that Western societies since the Enlightenment have been dedicated to the ideal of protecting the differences between individuals and groups, and another--too readily accepted--that before the rise of secularism in the modern period, intolerance and persecution held sway throughout Europe. InBeyond the Persecuting SocietyJohn Christian Laursen, Cary J. Nederman, and nine other scholars dismantle this second generalization. If intolerance and religious persecution have been at the root of some of the greatest suffering in human history, it is nevertheless the case that toleration was practiced and theorized in medieval and early modern Europe on a scale few have realized: Christians and Jews, the English, French, Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Italians, and Spanish had their proponents of and experiments with tolerance well before John Locke penned his famous Letter Concerning Toleration. Moving from Abelard to Aphra Behn, from the apology for the gentiles of the fourteenth-century Talmudic scholar, Menahem ben Solomon Ha-MeIiri, to the rejection of intolerance in the "New Israel" of the Massachusetts Bay Colony,Beyond the Persecuting Societyoffers a detailed and decisive correction to a vision of the past as any less complex in its embrace and abhorrence of diversity than the present.

Table of Contents

General Introduction: Political and Historical Myths in the Toleration Literature
The Medieval Balance
Introduction: Discourses and Contexts of Tolerance in Medieval Europep. 13
Peter Abelard and the Enigma of Dialoguep. 25
Toleration, Skepticism, and the "Clash of Ideas": Principles of Liberty in the Writings of John Salisburyp. 53
Ha-Me'iri's Theory of Religious Tolerationp. 71
The Long Sixteenth Century
Introduction: The Transformation of the Long Sixteenth Century
"Heretics be not in all thing heretics": Cardinal Pole, His Circle, and the Potential for Tolerationp. 107
The Concept of Toleration in the Colloquium Heptaplomeres of Jean Bodinp. 125
Religious Coexistence and Confessional Conflict in the Vier Dorfer: Practices of Toleration in Eastern Switzerland, 1525-1615p. 145
The Seventeenth Century
Introduction: Contexts and Paths to Toleration in the Seventeenth Centuryp. 169
Samuel von Pufendorf and Tolerationp. 178
Baylean Liberalism: Tolerance Requires Nontolerancep. 197
"Religion Set the World at Odds": Deism and the Climate of Religious Tolerance in the Works of Aphra Behnp. 216
Skepticism About Religion and Millenarian Dogmatism: Two Sources of Toleration in the Seventeenth Centuryp. 232
The Problem of Toleration in the New Israel: Religious Communalism in Seventeenth-Century Massachusettsp. 251
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