Apologies – this news passed me by at the time. You will come across John Bossy when you write on Elizabethan religion. He was very much an original thinker, and wrote beautifully. He died in December, and Simon Ditchfield‘s obituary in The Guardian can be found here.
An extract follows.
“Deftly bypassing traditional disputes between historians of the Catholic Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Bossy dug deeper to discern a profound shift from Christianity being conceived as a community of believers to its being understood in terms of rival confessions of belief. This he considered, controversially, to be a wholly negative development, leading to a diminished religious universe, in which Christianity no longer performed the social miracle of ritualised reconciliation, symbolised by the role of the kiss of peace at the Mass. Instead, there was a new stress on the distinction between the godly – represented by seminary-trained priests and dynamic missionaries spouting hell-fire sermons – and the majority, for whom printed catechisms reduced Christianity to what could be taught and learned.”