Conversing … with the ancients
Rome and the Bible
in Reformation without end
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Having lost a legal battle with Richard Bentley, Conyers Middleton went to Rome for a year and a half during the mid 1720s. During his time in Italy, Middleton developed a view of Christian antiquity at odds with the mainstream orthodox one. This chapter examines both the evolution of Middleton’s stance orthodoxy to heterodoxy and the perceptions and consequences of that evolution. It considers the arguments of his Letter from Rome (1729), highlighting their latently heterodox implications. It shows how the Letter from Rome’s latent heterodoxy became manifest in Middleton’s Letter to Dr Waterland (1730). Finally, it details the ways that his attacks on Daniel Waterland destroyed his relationship with his first patron — Edward Harley, second earl of Oxford — and permanently damaged his career prospects.

Reformation without end

Religion, politics and the past in post-revolutionary England


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