The Sources of Argument
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Long before the Revocation era, theological controversy had rested on the disciplined and adept quotation of scriptural and canonical authorities. Among Christian controversialists it had been customary to cite chapter and verse from the Bible and to select appropriate passages from Canon Law and the writings of the Church Fathers to prove a point. When the historical argument became popular in religious controversy, the practice continued. At the same time, new authorities were introduced. Writers dared not speak of a past event without mentioning or justifying their authorities, for if they failed to note their sources, or cited authorities in disrepute, they laid themselves open to ridicule. The value of their historical arguments rested ultimately on the reliability of their sources, and on the extent to which these sources were respected in the late seventeenth century. As the polemicists discussed the merits of their authorities, they deepened their own awareness, and that of the reading public, of the use and abuse of history.
KeywordsHistorical Argument Reading Public French Academy Church Father Theological View
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