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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Readers of Bunyan enter an imaginative world powerfully shaped by the experience of persecution and the martyrological tradition, a world polarized between the godly and the ungodly, Dissenters and conformists, sufferers and oppressors. This chapter argues that Restoration England was more ambivalent towards Dissent than Bunyan’s writings suggest. On the one hand, this was a persecutory society, one in which Protestant minorities were subjected to repression that in scale and intensity was without parallel elsewhere in Protestant Europe. Yet at the same time, there was considerable sympathy for the plight of Dissent, and concerted campaigns for both comprehension and toleration. The emerging Nonconformist denominations—Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Quakers—flourished. Calvinist theology and Puritan piety remained vigorous, if embattled. Restoration Dissent had its triumphs as well as its trials, a reality epitomized in Bunyan’s own career.

Keywords: Bunyan, Restoration, Dissenters, persecution, toleration, comprehension, Puritan, Calvinist

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