Editors preface

In designing the shape of this volume, which covers the crucial period of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic response, I have attempted to achieve three goals. The first objective is to provide an authoritative and balanced exposition of the events and issues that represent the classic commonplaces of the history of the Reformation and confessional conflicts. A second aim is to present scholarship that focuses on themes that transcend the Protestant-Catholic divide, themes of social and cultural history that have animated a generation of recent historical scholarship. The third goal situates the history of Christianity in the larger world context; to this end I have solicited contributions that illuminate the relationship between Christian Europe and the non-Christian world, between Christian missions and Judaism, Native American religions, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

The thirty essays grouped in six sections correspond to these three objectives. Twelve contributions in Parts I and II cover the loci communes of Reformation research: the leading Protestant reformers, the interplay between politics and evangelical movement, and the Anabaptist and radical reforms. Part III is devoted to the Catholic response that included both an impulse for renewal that predated the Protestant challenge as well as specific Counter-Reformation developments. Moving from the core of confessional conflicts, the six essays of Part IV analyse first the problems of toleration, church discipline, martyrdom, Inquisition, religious colloquies and then moves beyond the frontiers of Latin Christendom to study the impact of confessional confrontations on the Eastern Orthodox churches. Topics central to the social and cultural history of religion in recent decades ofscholarship comprise Part V, which attends to the relationship between religious change and the history of art, liturgy, music, science, and demonology, offering as well sociological and gender approaches to the study of the clergies and women. A final Part broadens the vision to the non-Christian world. In addition to examining the new relationship between the Christian churches and Judaism within Europe, the five contributions of xv

Editor's preface

Part VI describe the frontiers of religious contact between Christian and Muslim Europe, between 'spiritual conquest' and native American religions, and between Christian missionaries and the major religions of India and China.

As a world religion, Christianity and its history are well represented in international scholarship. The thirty contributors of this volume consist of scholars of American, Belgian, British, Canadian, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Russian backgrounds working in a dozen countries. Bringing to bear their different training and approaches, the essays illustrate the great diversity of sources and problems that pertain to this field of study.

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