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Anthony Ossa-Richardson (University of Southampton), Caiaphas at Trent: Catholicism and Ambiguity

June 5, 2018, 5:15pm BST - 6:45pm
History, E, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London

Arts Two Building, room 316
Queen Mary, Mile End Road,
London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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Historians have long known that early modern Protestants denounced their Catholic (and especially Jesuit) opponents as dealing in sophistical ambiguity and equivocation. In this paper, which is based on work undertaken as a Leverhulme postdoctoral fellow at Queen Mary, I present the Catholic point of view on the virtues of ambiguity and multiplicity, focusing on two areas: council negotiation, where ambiguity served a necessary diplomatic purpose, and biblical exegesis, where the plurality of literal (and not just allegorical) meanings revealed the fulness of divinity in Scripture. In each instance, the Catholic tradition, which has been almost entirely neglected by modern historians, presents a radically different picture of early modern attitudes to meaning and truth.


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