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The English Soul

The Faith of a Nation

Peter Ackroyd

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Reaktion Books
01 June 2024
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The English Soul portrays the spirit and nature of English Christianity as it has developed over the last 1,400 years. As the predominant faith of the people, Christianity has been the reflection, perhaps the embodiment, of the English soul. This fascinating new history argues that Christianity has been the anchoring and defining doctrine of England, while accepting respectfully that other powerful and significant faiths have also influenced the religious sensibility of this nation. Peter Ackroyd surveys the lives and faith of the most important figures of English Christianity, from the Venerable Bede to C. S. Lewis, exploring the mysticism of Julian of Norwich and William Blake, the tumultuous years of the Reformation, the emergence of the English Bible, the evangelical tradition, including John Wesley, and the contemporary contest between tradition, revival and atheism. This is an essential, comprehensive and accessible survey of English Christianity.
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9781789148459
ISBN 10:   1789148456
Pages:   416
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Author’s Note One: Religion as History: The Venerable Bede (673–735) Two: Religion as Revelation: Julian of Norwich (1343–1416) Three: Religion as Reform: John Wyclif (c. 1328–1384) Four: Religion as Reformation: William Tyndale (1494–1536), Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), John Foxe (1516–1587) Five: Religion as Orthodoxy: Richard Hooker (1554–1600) Six: Religion as Opposition: Thomas Cartwright (1535–1603), Robert Browne (c. 1550–1633), Henry Barrow (c. 1550–1593) 92 Seven: Religion as Sermon: Lancelot Andrewes (1555–1626), John Donne (1572–1631) Eight: Religion as Scripture: The Authorized Version (1611) Nine: Religion as Poetry: George Herbert (1593–1633) Ten: Religion as Order: William Laud (1573–1645) Eleven: Religion as Sect: Thomas Helwys (1575–1616) and the Baptists, John Lilburne (1615–1657) and the Levellers, Gerrard Winstanley (1609–1676) and the Diggers, Abiezer Coppe (1619–1672?) and the Ranters, Lodowicke Muggleton (1609–1698) and the Muggletonians Twelve: Religion as Transformation: George Fox (1624–1691) Thirteen: Religion as Experience: John Bunyan (1628–1688) Fourteen: Religion as Revival: John Wesley (1703–1791) Fifteen: Religion as Individual: William Blake (1757–1827) Sixteen: Religion as Established Seventeen: Religion as Battle: Catherine Booth (1829–1890), William Booth (1829–1912) Eighteen: Religion as Thought: John Henry Newman (1801–1890) Nineteen: Religion as Evangelical: Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892) Twenty: Atheism as Religion: Charles Bradlaugh (1833–1891), Annie Besant (1847–1933), Richard Dawkins (1941–) Twenty-One: Religion as Argument: G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936), C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) Twenty-Two: Religion as Contemporary: Evangelicals, Pentecostalists, Charismatics Twenty-Three: Religion as Theology: John A. T. Robinson (1919–1983), John Hick (1922–2012), Don Cupitt (1934–) Further Reading Acknowledgements Photo Acknowledgements Index

Peter Ackroyd is one of Britain's most respected historians and novelists. His many books include London: The Biography, Hawksmoor, and the bestselling History of England series.

Reviews for The English Soul: The Faith of a Nation

"""Undeterred, Ackroyd takes us on a breezy tour of the nation's religious history, from the Venerable Bede to the present. . . . The story of the English soul.""-- ""Spectator"" ""A wonderful, occasionally breathless, often enlightening and always entertaining pilgrimage through 1,400 years in search of the faith of the nation, or, more broadly, the English soul, which exists beyond the confines of institutional religion. As a guide to its history and spiritual drama, Ackroyd is colourful, opinionated and thought-provoking.""--Peter Stanford, author of ""If These Stones Could Talk: The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland through Twenty Buildings"" ""It is the gift of the historian to accompany a compelling narrative with a passionate intensity that helps the reader see why it matters so much, an analytical detachment that offers rewarding evaluation, and a playful predilection for anecdote that charms and cheers. Ackroyd combines all four in this marvellous episodic depiction of faith in England, which wisely eschews comprehensiveness for the relish of close encounter. In doing so, Ackroyd describes how the word has most characteristically and distinctively become flesh in this green and pleasant land. By the end you know Christianity better--and you know England better.""--Samuel Wells, Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London ""Since before there was an England, the English have been defined by their relationship with Christianity--both positive and negative--in its many, ever-changing forms. Through Ackroyd's calm gaze we see the leading characters and moments of that story, facile judgements suspended in favour of a warm, rigorous humanity.""--Alec Ryrie, professor of the history of Christianity, Durham University ""The English Soul is a book about the history, spirit and nature of English Christianity. . . . The book is excellent on several notes. Firstly, it vividly describes the huge array of figures in the history of English Christianity, not only well-known individuals but others who are less so--and how they were influenced. It is very well researched. Secondly there are many portraits and photographs of the most famous of those he discusses. This brings their characters to life. Thirdly it is written in a non-partisan way. The book is a brilliant history of the English Church and the people who built and are building it.""-- ""Arts Centre Group"" ""Ackroyd's history of Christianity in England is a lively and detailed book. . . . In The English Soul, Ackroyd sets himself the task of capturing the 'spirit and nature' of English Christianity.""-- ""Daily Telegraph"" ""Ackroyd's new book is about the evolution of Christianity in England, from the venerable Bede to Justin Welby. The book carries the title The English Soul, what he defines now as 'a convenient shorthand for qualities which we don't understand.' As with all of Ackroyd's books, you arrive at the end of this procession of mystics and evangelists, heretics and headbangers, briefly cleverer than when you began. His history takes in lives of a multitude of believers from Julian of Norwich, through John Donne and John Wesley, to GK Chesterton and CS Lewis, with numerous enjoyable diversions along the way.""-- ""Observer"""

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