The Culture of Controversy

The Culture of Controversy

Religious Arguments in Scotland, 1660-1714

Alasdair Raffe


Boydell Press



Illuminating the development and character of Scottish Protestantism, The Culture of Controversy proposes new ways of understanding religion and politics in early modern Scotland.
The Culture of Controversy investigates arguments about religion in Scotland from the Restoration to the death of Queen Anne and outlines a new model for thinking about collective disagreement in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century societies. Rejecting teleological concepts of the 'public sphere', the book instead analyses religious debates in terms of a distinctively early modern 'culture of controversy'. This culture was less rational and less urbanised than the public sphere. Traditional means of communication such as preaching and manuscript circulation were more important than newspapers and coffeehouses. As well as verbal forms of discourse, controversial culture was characterised by actions, rituals and gestures. People from all social ranks and all regions of Scotland were involved in religious arguments, but popular participation remained of questionable legitimacy.
Through its detailed and innovative examination of the arguments raging between and within Scotland's main religious groups, the presbyterians and episcopalians, over such issues as Church government, state oaths and nonconformity, The Culture of Controversy reveals hitherto unexamined debates about religious enthusiasm, worship and clerical hypocrisy. It also illustrates the changing nature of the fault line between the presbyterians and episcopalians and contextualises the emerging issues of religious toleration and articulate irreligion. Illuminating the development and character of Scottish Protestantism, The Culture of Controversy proposes new ways of understanding religion and politics in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Scotland and will be particularly valuable to all those with an interest in early modern British history.

Alasdair Raffe is Lecturer in History at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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August 2012
4 black and white, 2 line illustrations
310 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Modern British Religious History
ISBN: 9781843837299
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, REL040030
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Table of Contents

The Culture of Controversy
Religious Groups and Cultures
The Covenants and Conscientious Dissent
Fanatics and Enthusiasts
Clerical Reputations
Crowd Violence
Conclusion: Concepts and Consequences


[A] fascinating and insightful study, which offers many vignettes of early modern Scottish religious controversy whilst making a real contribution to a better understanding of the situation of the Scottish churches in this period. SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY

An impeccably researched and stimulating account of religious dispute in Scotland from 1660 to 1714, and it will be essential reading for future scholars of Scottish religion in the period. SCOTTISH ARCHIVES

Raffe's book, much like the impassioned and truculent debates that form the focus of his study, should in turn generate new debates centred on religious pluralism, toleration, scepticism and irreligion. HISTORY SCOTLAND

An extremely impressive debut book by a scholar whose future work will be keenly anticipated by all those interested in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Britain. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

A very well-researched and clearly presented study of polemics during the period. JOURNAL OF IRISH AND SCOTTISH STUDIES Deeply researched and exceedingly well important contribution. . A must-read for those interested in religion and public debate in Scotland under the later Stuarts. JOURNAL OF SCOTTISH HISTORICAL STUDIES

This is an outstanding book. [It] is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the religious issues that exercised Scots in the half century after 1660. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

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