Folio: Collation: a-z6, A-C6, D4 ?Ye use, my mayster sayth, to look so sadly whan ye mene merrily, that many tymes men doubte whyther ye speke in sporte whan ye mene good ernest.?Thomas More?s ?Dialogue? against Tyndale & Luther The Dialogue against Heresies: Thomas More?s Defense of Catholic Orthodoxy in the face of the Protestant Reformation:?In 1523 More had written the first of his controversial works, the ?Responsio ad Lutherum?, a Latin diatribe in which he answered Luther?s attack upon Henry VIII?s book on the seven sacraments? The procedure he employed for the ?Responsio? inevitably restricted the play of More?s literary abilities. For this new book, the ?Dialogue Concerning Heresies? of 1529, More found a format that gave him freer reign to treat the ?diverse matters? mentioned on the title page. Most of the major issues of the Reformation are dealt with, for More?s purpose was to give a comprehensive review of the errors to which the public would be exposed by heretical books and sermons. The attempt to stem the flow of foreign books at the ports of entry or to confiscate or burn the books that slipped through the net had failed completely. The layman could read of these ?diverse matters? and, realizing this, Bishop Cuthbert Tunstal launched a new stage of the campaign when he sent More a package of heretical books with a license to read them in preparation for his task.?(439-40)The beauty of More?s ?Dialogue?, and what sets it apart from other works of early 16th c. religious controversy, is its literary form and style. Reminiscent of More?s ?Utopia?, the ?Dialogue? between More and his interlocutor, the ?Messenger?, is an intimate, lively, and far-reaching conversation, held in More?s home so that his young visitor, who has come at the suggestion of one of More?s friends, might discuss freely what he has ?heard some men say? concerning heretical topics. The Messenger, an educated but young and still impressionable man, has come under the influence of the reformers. His ability to reason is not so finely honed that he can see the errors of the ideas that have enthralled him, so More, at the behest of his unnamed friend, attempts to steer the Messenger clear of false doctrine. By using the dialogue form, More suggests a blue print for other English families to employ in their own households when debates over heresy arise.The whole of the text is presented in the form of a letter, written after the dialogue has taken place, so that the young man may have recourse to More?s guidance when he returns to the environment in which he first encountered heretical thinkers. The book is to be an ?enchiridion?, a handbook (or dagger) used as a guide the Messenger and others like him back to orthodox belief; it is also a defensive weapon against the dangers of heretical thinking.The ?dyvers maters? of the title constitute a catalogue of the heresies put forth by Luther, Tyndale, and preachers such as Thomas Bilney, who seek to inculcate these pernicious errors in the laity, including well-educated university men such as More?s Messenger.The topics include the veneration of Saints and their images, going on pilgrimage, the central Lutheran doctrines of ?sola scriptura?, (the idea that the Bible contains all the information necessary for salvation) and ?sola fide? (justification by faith alone), predestination, and excommunication. ?The structure of the ?Dialogue? is the course of heresy itself, one digression or bypath leading to another, farther and farther from the common way.?(443)?The consequences of such heresies are set before the Messenger?s eyes in the last book of the ?Dialogue? in the horrifying picture of the Sack of Rome (1527), where the Lutheran troops negotiate ?pacts and promises of rest? without further violence before raping wives and daughters. The Sack of Rome is the final fruit of Luther?s schism, ?of whose opinions or at the least of whose works all this business began.? (445)Weighty topics indeed, yet More?s. Bookseller Inventory #
Title: A dyaloge of syr Thomas More knyghte: one of...
Publisher: printed by William Rastell,
Publication Date: 1530
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