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Translating the Jansenist controversy in Britain and Ireland

Williams, Mark R. F. ORCID: 2019. Translating the Jansenist controversy in Britain and Ireland. English Historical Review 134 (566) , pp. 59-91. 10.1093/ehr/cey397

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This article explores perceptions of Jansenism in Britain and Ireland in the latter half of the seventeenth century. Grounded in the theology of Cornelius Jansen, the Catholic bishop of Ypres, the wider Jansenist ‘movement’ was a controversial group of theologians, philosophers, clergy and nuns whose disputes with the papacy and French monarchy endured well into the eighteenth century. These centred on questions of divine grace, papal fallibility and even political dissent. In exploring the translation and reception of these ideas, this article foregrounds a moment in the late 1670s when the natural philosopher Robert Boyle and a group of like-minded Protestants attempted to incorporate Jansenist writings into a translation of the Bible into Irish. Enthusiasm for this was based on widely held perceptions that the Jansenists represented a more rational strain of Catholicism which anticipated a broader reform of Catholic Europe. The ensuing ‘Jansenist Preface’ was intended to help unify Christendom by bringing about a more rational religion among Ireland’s Catholics. The shock felt by Boyle and his collaborators upon actually reading Jansenist works, and the reappraisal this engendered, provides the foundation for a wider exploration of how ideas and representations of the Jansenist controversy moved, were translated, and subsequently engaged with across these confessional spaces. In doing so, this article sets British and Irish interests in Jansenism against wider questions of interconfessional dialogue and European reformation, and explores the place of mobility and translation in the framing of the reformation process.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DC France
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0013-8266
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 January 2019
Date of Acceptance: 7 January 2019
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 19:23

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