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Christmas Presents

The Very Rev Dr Finlay Macdonald offers readers a sneak preview of a personal selection of extracts from his new overview of the history of the Church of Scotland, From Reform to Renewal.

From the Sixteenth Century

In the summer of 1558 John Knox published what is probably his most infamous tract, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. This was published anonymously, though the identity of the writer soon emerged. Possible misgivings on Knox’s part might be inferred from the fact that, though drafting the document in Geneva, he did not consult Calvin on the matter. Was he concerned that Calvin might persuade him to think again? Did he think it was just another pamphlet and hardly worth troubling his chief with? The most common misunderstanding of the First Blast is to think that the word ‘regiment’ refers to a large and overbearing female crowd and assume that the pamphlet is simply a misogynist rant. In fact the word refers to the rule of women and in the sixteenth century the word ‘monstrous’ indicated what we would describe today as ‘unnatural’. The pamphlet was aimed principally at Mary Tudor, Queen of England and, to a lesser extent, Mary of Guise, Regent of Scotland. Both were Catholic and no friends of the Reformation.

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About Life and Work

Inside this month’s issue we have an unexpected Easter Feast, Jolyon Mitchell considers the impact and influence of art in telling the story of Emmaus and opening eyes. Tim Porter highlights the work of the Halo Trust, a charity involved in a key project to improve access to the site of Jesus' baptism.
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