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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the deeply fraught issue of authority, and particularly the difficult relations between its secular and religious forms. From the New Testament to Augustine, through the Middle Ages, and well into the Reformation and early modern era, political and transcendent structures of authority are both problematic in themselves and contentiously at odds with each other. The Reformation was a watershed event in these struggles, as it helped to cement the worldly ascendancy of sociopolitical authority over that of the Church—but it also initiated an even deeper and more consequential tension of authority by relocating spiritual (and to a lesser degree political) authority from the institutional Church to the individual believer, thus setting up the basic terms for the subsequent development of modern liberal democracy.

Keywords: authority, religion, state, Shakespeare, Tyndale, Hooker, Donne, Milton, Hobbes

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