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Reynolds, Matthew 1973-

Reynolds, Matthew 1973-

PERSONAL:

Born August 30, 1973. Education: Kent University, postgraduate study, 2002.

CAREER:

Church historian, teacher, and author.

WRITINGS:

Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England: Religion in Norwich, c. 1560-1643, Boydell Press (Rochester, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Church historian and author Matthew Reynolds was born in 1973, and he attended Kent University in pursuit of his doctorate. His first book, Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England: Religion in Norwich, c. 1560-1643, is an extension of his Ph.D. dissertation, which was written in 2002 and then published in book form in 2005. The book was widely reviewed, which is somewhat remarkable when one considers the scholarly nature of the work and the fact that it is Reynolds's first work.

Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England looks at the schisms in the early Protestant Church in an eighty-year period spanning the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Reynolds discusses the conflicts surrounding early Protestant theology, as well as those regarding church government, administration, and hierarchy. The book is actually an extension and response to two earlier books on the topic: 1979's Seventeenth-Century Norwich by John Evans, and 1999's The Quiet Reformation by Muriel McClendon.

While critics did comment on some flaws in Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England, many overall assessments of the book were positive. For instance, Hassell Smith, critiquing the book in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, stated that "the particular quality of this work rests in its focus on the beliefs and aspirations of individual people. Case study is piled upon case study." Smith went on to note that "the result is that when [Reynolds] comes to examine the views and activities of particular groups, … he finds division and controversy, much of it acrimonious." Although Gary G. Gibbs, writing in the Renaissance Quarterly, felt that the book contains "much to regret," he also believed that "readers will find much of profit" and "much for critical engagement," as well. Indeed, Gibbs found that Reynolds's "study succeeds on many levels," and the critic ultimately found that "in the end, Reynolds has written a book that is worth reading. His vision of religion and society in Norwich is more credible when he traces the cracks and divisions between those who resisted the policies of the Caroline church and those who promoted them."

Another reviewer who echoed Gibbs's opinions was Church History contributor Peter Marshall. Marshall found that Godly Reformers and Their Opponents inEarly Modern England is a "lively and engaging study of religious politics in Elizabethan and early Stuart Norwich" that "is a very worthy, and noteworthy, contribution to the ongoing debates about the formation of religious allegiances in the years between Elizabethan Settlement and Civil War." Marshall went on to note that "as the book's conclusion is keen to point out, its significance is by no means limited to the world of Norwich studies and raises important questions about political and religious alignment in other urban communities." In a highly laudatory review, Journal of British Studies contributor Caroline Litzenberger gave an overview of Reynolds's study, stating that by "using Norwich as its focus," the book "presents a detailed analysis of the relationships between religious beliefs, identities, and affiliations, on the one hand, and political policies and actions, on the other, over the period from the accession of Elizabeth through the outbreak of hostilities in the first Civil War." Litzenberger went on to note that "Reynolds points to a number of other English cities that he suggests may have experienced a similar degree of increasingly complex factionalism in the years leading to the outbreak of the first Civil War." According to the critic, this makes the book "an important resource."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, February 1, 2007, Catherine F. Patterson, review of Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England: Religion in Norwich, c. 1560-1643, p. 268.

Church History, December 1, 2006, Peter Marshall, review of Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England, p. 916.

English Historical Review, June 1, 2007, Ralph Houlbrooke, review of Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England, p. 751.

Journal of British Studies, January 1, 2007, Caroline Litzenberger, review of Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England, p. 166.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January 1, 2007, Hassell Smith, review of Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England, p. 153.

Renaissance Quarterly, September 22, 2006, Gary G. Gibbs, review of Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England, p. 948.

Sixteenth Century Journal, December 22, 2006, Dale Walden Johnson, review of Godly Reformers and their Opponents in Early Modern England, p. 1094.

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