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A Brief History of Heresy

ISBN: 978-0-631-23526-2
216 pages
December 2002, Wiley-Blackwell
A Brief History of Heresy (0631235264) cover image
This short and accessible book introduces readers to the problems of heresy, schism and dissidence over the last two millennia. The heresies under discussion range from Gnosticism, influential in the early Christian period, right through to modern sects.

The idea of a heretic conjures up many images, from the martyrs prepared to die for their beliefs, through to sects with bizarre practices. This book provides a remarkable insight into the fraught history of heresy, showing how the Church came to insist on orthodoxy when threatened by alternative ideals, exploring the social and political conditions under which heretics were created, and how those involved were 'tested' and punished, often by imprisonment and burning. Engaging written, A Brief History of Heresy is enlivened throughout with fascinating examples of individuals and movements.


  • A short, accessible history of heresy.
  • Spans the last two millennia, from the Gnostics through to modern sects.
  • Considers heresy in relation to ecclesial separatism, doctrinal disagreement, church order, and basic metaphysics.
  • Enlivened with intriguing examples of individuals and movements.
  • Written by a leading academic in the field of Religious History.
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List of Illustrations.

Preface.

1. The Importance of Being United.

2. The Boundaries of Orthodoxy: Faith.

3. The Boundaries of Orthodoxy: Order.

4. Classifying Heresies.

5. Heresy and Social Challenge.

6. Good and Evil.

7. Dealing with Heresy.

Conclusion.

Notes.

Further reading.

Index.
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G. R. Evans is Lecturer in History at the University of Cambridge. Her previous publications include Law and Theology in the Middle Ages (2002), The Church and the Churches (1994), Philosophy and Theology in the Middle Ages (1993), and Problems of Authority in the Reformation Debates (1992). She is also the editor of The Medieval Theologians (Blackwell Publishing, 2000). She was for ten years a prominent member of the Church and Order Advisory Group of the Church of England, and is a former diarist for The Church Times.
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  • A short, accessible history of heresy.

  • Spans the last two millennia, from the Gnostics through to modern sects.

  • Considers heresy in relation to ecclesial separatism, doctrinal disagreement, church order, and basic metaphysics.

  • Enlivened with intriguing examples of individuals and movements.

  • Written by a leading academic in the field of Religious History.
See More
"A clear and elegant book." The Guardian

"What Gill Evans's lively and accessible study shows is that if the Church today is to proceed towards a unity truly based upon Christ, we need to distinguish between desirably dissident ‘whistle-blowers’ where the official Church has gotten out of step with its founder, and those voices of dissidence which, on examination, prove clearly contrary to the teaching of Christ. This is accordingly a timely as well as entertaining book, a distillation of wide learning designed for the intelligent common reader." David Lyle Jeffrey, Baylor University

"It is an excellent survey of heresy throughout the church's history. Those who read for information and insight will be abundantly rewarded." Ashland Theological Journal

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