Seeing Faith, Printing Pictures: Religious Identity during the English Reformation


Scholarship on religious printed images during the English Reformation (1535-1603) has generally focused on a few illustrated works and has portrayed this period in England as a predominantly non-visual religious culture. The combination of iconoclasm and Calvinist doctrine have led to a misunderstanding as to the unique ways that English Protestants used religious printed images. Building on recent work in the history of the book and print studies, this book analyzes the widespread body of religious illustration, such as images of God the Father and Christ, in Reformation England, assessing what religious beliefs they communicated and how their use evolved during the period. The result is a unique analysis of how the Reformation in England both destroyed certain aspects of traditional imagery as well as embraced and reformulated others into expressions of its own character and identity.

E-Book : List price

EUR  €120.00USD  $156.00
Biographical Note
David J. Davis, Ph.D. (2009) in History, University of Exeter, is Assistant Professor in History at Houston Baptist University. He has published several articles and reviews on the English Reformation and early modern print culture.
Review Quotes
Seeing Faith … presents a well-constructed and well-illustrated survey which draws on a wide range of contemporary sources. It … successfully probes a sizeable subject which should be enjoyed by readers in a number of fields.”
Margaret Aston. In: Print Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 3 (2015), pp. 315-317.

“Davis has written an excellent book, dealing with a subject full of pitfalls with care and obvious academic integrity.”
Andrew A. Chibi, England. In: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4 (2013), pp. 1078-1080.

"this book brings together important evidence that the desire for visual images continued into the Reformation."
James A. Knapp, Loyola University Chicago. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Spring 2014), pp. 300-301.

“The monograph is well written and throws numerous shafts of light on specific cases and on wider issues such as the debate on ‘iconophobia’.”
Ian Green, University of Edinburgh. In: Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 100, No. 1 (2014), pp. 148-149.

Table of contents
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Images and Early Modern Religious Identity
Religious Identity and the English Reformation(s)
Studying Early Modern Printed Images
Seeing Faith, Reading Images
Sources and Chapters

Chapter 1: Material Religion: The Image in Early Modern Print
The Public Sphere and Commodification
Censorship and Religious Identity
English Printed Images: A European Tradition
Moving Images in the Marketplace

Chapter 2: Printed Images and the Reformation in England
Iconoclasm and Protestant Adiaphora
Reformed Theology and Boundaries of Acceptability
Theodore Beze and Peter Martyr Vermigli
William Perkins
The Catholic Opposition
Translation and Mistranslations
Protestant Hypocrisy

Chapter 3: Christ, the Virgin, and the Catholic Tradition of Printed Images
Catholic Primers and English Protestantism
Catholic Printers in Reformation England
Images of the Virgin
Images of Christ and the Catholic Community

Chapter 4: Representations of Christ: Reforming the Imitatio Christi
Protestants and the God-Man
From Corpus Christi to Christ Displayed
Protestant Identity and the Imitatio Christi
The Suffering Christ: Meditation and Imitation
Seeing the End: Resurrection and Judgment

Chapter 5: Seeing God: Protestant Visions of the Father
Traditional Images and Recycled Prints
God in Illustrated Bibles
The Exception of Divine Visions
God at Creation

Chapter 6: Reforming the Deity: Symbolic Pictures of God
Continuity and Change
A Reformed Icon?: Symbols of God
The Devotional Image



All those interested in early modern history, the Reformation in Britain, visual culture, and the history of the book, as well as literary scholars and others interested in identity studies.
Index Card
Collection Information