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date: 19 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter analyzes Selden’s struggle to limit the reach of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the mid-1640s, as Presbyterians in the Westminster Assembly of Divines attempted to exclude from communion anyone it identified as scandalous or ignorant. As a corollary, he defended parliamentary rule on religious matters in a number of venues, including the Assembly itself, where he was a minority lay member, in the House of Commons, and in a monograph-length excursus on excommunication in his massive De synedriis, a study of the great Synedrion as a continuous civil rather than ecclesiastical institution. While drawing distinctions between them, Selden connects excommunication and exile in his legal imaginary. Surprisingly, and despite his attack on the Assembly in his sonnet ‘On the New Forcers of Conscience’, this connection seems to have escaped the imagination of John Milton, the great poet of exile.

Keywords: John Selden, excommunication, Westminster Assembly, Erastian, De synedriis, Table Talk, John Milton ‘New Forcers of Conscience’, sacred, exile

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