‘That all the Lord’s people could prophesy’
Innovating in the reference genre (and turning against episcopacy?)
in The pastor in print
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Chapter 9 turns to Thesaurus Biblicus, a tripartite Bible reference work Bernard composed during the 1630s and which was rejected by a Laudian licenser on the grounds that it might enable laypeople to act as preachers. I show that each of Thesaurus’s sections took a different approach toward equipping users – including lay users – to interpret the Bible. Using the genre of a reference work from which users could draw their own conclusions, Bernard avoided explicitly supporting certain controversial positions, yet nevertheless provided audiences with information intended (not exclusively, but clearly) to equip a sort of theologically reformed, puritanically inflected, lay household preaching. Although radical in some senses, this was, in fact, within the realm of current practice for some godly households: and it suggested a potential way forward for godly religion in a period when certain doctrines and styles of ministry were out of favour with ecclesiastical leadership. The chapter concludes by returning to the question of conformity, showing that there is a reasonable case to be made that Bernard authored an anonymous 1641 anti-episcopal pamphlet – especially curious as this would seem to run counter to his longstanding commitment to operating within the national church. I suggest that, if he was the author, we can understand this shift as fitting within a different sort of conformity: one conforming to certain Parliamentary initiatives.

The pastor in print

Genre, audience, and religious change in early modern England