Antecedents and Legacies in the Anglican Tradition
Edited By Sean A. Otto and Thomas P. Power
Exploring a variety of themes, this collection examines the Reformation in relation to key aspects of church organization, belief, sacrament, conversion, relationships with other denominations, theological education, church and state, worship, and issues of resilience and decline. While these themes are pursued broadly, there is a particular focus on the context of the Anglican tradition in terms of Reformation preoccupations and concerns. This collection’s thematic content, chronological span, and geographical range will also challenge accepted views, deepen understanding, and highlight new areas of enquiry, bringing new research and insights to bear on established observations.
Academics will find this book of particular interest for courses on the Reformation, Early Modern Europe, and the history of Christianity.
Pastors and Depression in Early-Modern England
There is a great difference between such as are only under trouble of conscience and such whose bodies are diseased at the same time.
—Timothy Rogers, Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy
There seems to exist a widespread, popular idea that before the Enlightenment most forms of psychological disturbance, including depression, were considered supernatural in nature, and were generally treated by means of religious rituals or spiritual counsels.1 The most widely known literature of ancient societies, poetry and mythology, often conveys this impression.2 More importantly, the sacred scriptures of the Jews and Christians seem to convey a similar view. When the ‘spirit of the Lord’ departed from Saul, ‘an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him’ (1 Sam. 16:14) with what has often been interpreted as a severe depression, or ‘melancholic humour’ as Matthew Poole (1624–1679) called it.3
Early Modern English pastors, at least those with a standard university education, had a more complex—and a more physiological—understanding of depression. They saw it as a phenomenon that, although having a spiritual aspect, was in essence physical, and more properly treated by doctor than pastor. While recognizing a relationship between body and soul, by which either could affect the other, theologians carefully distinguished between forms of psychological distress that were essentially spiritual and those that were essentially somatic. The differences between these two kinds of mental distress were painstakingly defined, and distinctions between them...
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