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'Wolves in sheep's clothing' : la rhétorique du combat chez Thomas Becon

Abstract : "This article deals with an aspect of the Church in 16th century England: what kind of supper is being prepared there behind whose backs — a double question related to a decisive period in the history of the English Church, the reign of Mary Tudor, on both sides of the Channel. One of the answers is provided in many dainty dishes, diligently prepared by the celebrated catechist and religious writer, Thomas Becon (1512-1567). The first course in this gracious menu is the argument that the true Church of Christ is being subverted under Mary, that false Jezebel, whereas its proper foundations were prepared under Edward VI, the true Josiah. Becon's argument is well seasoned with a fine distinction between the notions of sign and instrument: the death of the virtuous is the manifest token of God's anger towards His beloved but unthankful children. The instrument of His anger is the return of papistry. Ergo, God's elect are easily discernible. Becon's main course is a spicy roast of wild boar and other venison, by which he attacks one personal foe, namely Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester. This is ‘the wolf that brast into the sheepfold, seeking whom he may devour'. The other side of papistry is Antichrist at work in his office behind closed doors, especially those of the Tower, from which Becon escaped and fled to Strasbourg. He took an active part in the Frankfurt controversy that was to lay the foundations of the Church of England, on the other side of the Channel. Becon's continental des(s)ert was to join the art of the preacher to a man's steadfastness in his faith in the face of danger, making his the motto: ‘Vive memor lethi' (‘Live mindful of death')."
Keywords : Thomas Becon
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Submitted on : Friday, October 9, 2009 - 1:48:08 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00423182, version 1


Christian Jérémie. 'Wolves in sheep's clothing' : la rhétorique du combat chez Thomas Becon. Revue LISA / LISA e-journal, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2008, Vol. 6 (N° 3), pp.9- 27. ⟨halshs-00423182⟩



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