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Thomas Cranmer’s Reputation Reconsidered

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Null argues that the Protestant theology of Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) did not spring completely new and full-grown from Scripture like Athena from the head of Zeus. While indisputably a herald of a new religious era, Cranmer was still deeply shaped by the medieval English emphasis on reading Scripture to renew the affections and by the writings of the Church Fathers. Null first describes how Thomas Bilney, Katherine Parr and Cranmer adopted justification by faith as the means of fulfilling the affective piety taught by Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and Desiderius Erasmus. Null then presents for the first time the manuscripts from Cranmer’s massive eucharistic research project completed under Edward VI. Using these texts, Null finally shows the significant influence of Cyril of Alexandria on Cranmer’s mature understanding of Holy Communion.


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Appendix 1

Cranmer’s Library Books and the Paris Eucharistic Commonplaces

(i) Cranmer’s copy of Chrysostom, Opera, 6 parts in 5 vols (Basel, 1547) (BL, Shelfmark L.19.f.5) = Selwyn, Library, p. 47 (No. 170)

(i) BnF, Latin MS 3396

Vol. I col. 59

fol. 79r

Vol. I col. 712

fol. 79r

Vol. II cols 432–5

fols 79r–80v

Vol. II col. 247

fol. 80v

Vol. II cols 664–6

fols 80v–81v

Vol. II cols 669–70

fol. 83v

Vol. II col. 670

fol. 83v

Vol. II col. 671

fol. 83v

Vol. II col. 669

fol. 84r

Vol. II col. 810

fol. 84r–v

Vol. II cols 867–8

fol. 84v

Vol. III col. 214

fol. 84v

Vol. III col. 219

fol. 85r

Vol. III cols 223–4

fols 86v–87r

Vol. III cols 224–5

fols 87r–88r

Vol. III col. 226

fol. 88r

Vol. III col. 821

fol. 88r

Vol. III cols 821–2

fol. 88r–v

Vol. III cols 822–3

fols 88v–89r

Vol. III cols 918–19

fol. 89r–v

Vol. III col. 934

fol. 89v

The parallels continue in Vols IV and V


(ii) Cranmer’s copy of Hesychius, In Leuiticum… (Basel, 1527) (CUL, Shelfmark C*.10.19(c)) = Selwyn, Library, pp. 41–2 (No. 150)

(ii) BnF, Latin MS 3396

fol. 48r

fol. 126v

(iii) Cranmer’s copy of Jerome [Hieronymus], Opera, 9 books in 4 vols (Paris, 1533–34) (BL, Shelfmark 476.g.10–13) = Selwyn, Library, pp. 44–5 (No. 159)

(iii) BnF, Latin MS 3396

Book V fol. 90r, with Cranmer’s marginaliumSacramentum euchar[istiae]

fol. 118v

Book V fol. 104r, with Cranmer’s marginaliumDe eucharistia

fol. 118v

Book V fol. 110r, with Cranmer’s marginaliumEucharistia

fols 118v–119r

Book V fol. 114r, with Cranmer’s marginaliumEucharistia

fol. 119r–v

(iv) Cranmer’s copy of Oecumenius, Commentaria… (Louvain, 1543) (BL, Shelfmark 1218.k.12) = Selwyn, Library, p. 66 (No. 239)

(iv) BnF, Latin MS 3396

pp. 232–3

fol. 171v

Appendix 2

Entries in ‘De re sacramentaria’ and the Paris Authorial Eucharistic Commonplaces Compared

CCCC, PL MS 102, p. 156

BnF, Latin MS 3396, fols 40r–184r

Augustinus, de trinitate li. 3, ca. 4. Paulus potuit significando praedicare… in memoriam pro nobis dominicae passionis

Paulus… potuit tamen significando praedicare dominum Ihesum christum aliter per linguam suam, aliter per epistolam suam, aliter per sacramentum corporis et sanguinis eius… corpus christi et sanguinem dicimus, sed illum tantum quod ex fructibus terrae acceptum, et prece mystica consecratum rite summus ad salutem spiritalem in memoriam pro nobis dominicae passionis’ (fol. 147r–v)

Idem, de verbis Apostoli sermo 2 dominus Iesus corpus dixit escam, sanuginem potum, sacramentum fidelium

quod corpus dixit escam sanguinem potum, sacramentum fidelium agnoscunt fideles’ (fol. 165r)

Theodoretus in 1 dialogo. In ipsa mysteriorum traditione Christus panem vocavit corpus suum, et Sanguinem poculum mixtum

Ortho: in ipsa nimirum mysteriorum traditione, corpus panem vocavit, et sanguinem poculum mixtum’ (fol. 182r)

Theophilactus in Math. Ca. 26. Porro dicens Hoc est corpus meum, ostendit quod ipsum corpus domini est panis qui sanctificatur in altare

Porro dictum, hoc est corpus meum ostendit quod ipsum corpus domini est panis qui sanctificatur in altari, et non respondens figura’ (fol. 169r)

Damascenus, li. 4, ca. 14. Quia mos est hominibus panem manducare, et vinum aquamque bibere, coniunxit hijs ipsis suam divinitatem, et fecit haec suum corpus, et sanguinem

quia mos est hominibus panem manducare, et vivum aquamque bibere, coniunxit his ipsis suam divinitatem, et fecit haec suum corpus et sanguinem’ (fol. 170r)

Rabanus li. 1, ca. 31. Quia panis corporalis cor firmat ideo ille corpus christi congruentur [sic] nuncupatur. Vinum autem quia sanguinem operatur in carne ideo ad sanguinem Christi refertur

Ergo quia panis corporis cor firmat, ideo ille corpus christi congruenter nuncupatur. Vinum autem quia sanguinem operatur in carne, ideo ad sanguinem christi refertur’ (fol. 178r)

Anselmus I Cor. 10. Panis quem frangimus est participatio corporis domini, quia ipse panis quem multis dividimus, est verum corpus domini

Panis quem frangimus est participatio corporis domini quia ipse panis quem multis dividimus, est verum corpus domini’ (fol. 179r)

Haymo I Cor 11. Panis quem cotidie consecrant sacredotes in ecclesia, verum corpus christi est

Panis quem quotidie consecrant sacerdotes in ecclesia, cum virtute divinitatis quae illum replet panem verum corpus Christi est’ (fol. 183v)

Appendix 3

How Cranmer Combined Two Propositional Commonplaces from ‘De re sacramentaria’ into One for the Paris Version

figure a

Appendix 4

Cranmer’s Bracketed Quotations in CL 258 and Entries in CGC I

Quotation in CL 258

Location in CGC I

Theophylactus ille Bulgarorum episcopus, exponens… alioqui assueti sumus’, with Cranmer’s marginaliumTheophilactus’ (fol. 27r–v)

fol. 99v

Damascenus’, ‘suscepturus voluntariam pro nobis… incorporati Christo existentes’, with Cranmer’s marginaliumDamascenus’ (fols 27v–28v)

fols 100r–101v

Leo’, ‘in epistola ad Constantinopolitanos: In ecclesia Dei… factus est, transeamus’, with Cranmer’s marginaliumLeo’ (fol. 29r)

fols 79v–80r

Leo’, ‘in sermone de ieiunio mensis septimi: Hanc… quod accipitur, disputatur’ (fol. 29r)

fol. 80r

Leo’, ‘in epistola ad Anastasium… sacramentum propitiationis exequitur’ (fol. 29r)

fol. 80r

Gregorius’, ‘in homilia paschali… ore cordis hauritur’, with Cranmer’s marginaliumGregorius’ (fol. 28v)

fol. 94v

Augustinus’, ‘in sermone ad neophytos… mendacem putauerit Christum’, with Cranmer’s marginaliumAugustinus’ (fol. 29r–v)

fol. 91v

Augustinus’, ‘libro quarto de Trinitate… effectum sacerdotis nostris’ (fol. 29v)

fol. 91v

Augustinus’, ‘carnalem intelligentiam… quomodo spiritu vegetatur’ (fol. 29v)

fol. 91v

Cyrillus’, ‘Dixit ergo… sed ipsum verum’, with Cranmer’s marginaliumCyrillus’ (fol. 30r)

fol. 84v

Cyrillus’, ‘Mortui sunt, inquit… viuificat ista caro’ (fol. 30v)

fol. 84v

Cyrillus’, ‘Itaque quae pauloante… alio opus habet’ (fol. 30v)

fol. 85r

Cyrillus’, ‘Litigabant ad haec… impossibile apud Deum’ (fol. 30v)

fol. 85r

Cyrillus’, ‘Audientes enim: Nisi… et commendauit) cognouerant’ (fol. 32r)

fol. 85r

Appendix 5

The Absence of Cranmer’s Bracketed Quotations Found in his Copy of Oecolampadius’s Dialogus from Comparable Sections in the ‘De EucharistiaLocus of his ‘Great Commonplaces’ (CGC I, fols 78r–123v)

Quotation in CL 234

Comparison with CGC I

Beda super Lucam’ (fol. 142v)

fol. 94v

Athanasius in libro quo explanat, qui dixerit verbum contra filium hominis’ (fol. 143v)


Anathematismus undecimus Cyrilli’ and ‘Cyrillus ad reginas de recta fide’ (fol. 151r) and ‘Cyrillus ad obiectiones Theodoreti’ (fol. 152r) and ‘Cyrillus in Exodum’ (fols 158v–159r)

fols 82v–85r

Scribit [Leo] etiam Anatholio’ (fol. 152v), ‘Leo in sermone de ieiunio septimi mensis’ [two extracts] and ‘Constantinopolitanis scribens’ (fol. 153r) (NB three of the four quotations in CL 234—except the second extract from the Sermon on Fasting in the Seventh Month—are also bracketed in CL 258 and recorded in CGC I. However, CGC I follows the text of the quotations as found in CL 258 rather than CL 234. Cf. (i) ‘in sermone de ieiunio mensis septimi: Hanc, inquit, confessionem’, CL 258, fol. 29r and CGC I, fol. 80r; ‘in sermone de ieiunio septimi mensis. Hanc confessionem’, CL 234, fol. 153r; (ii) ‘in epistola ad Constantinopolitanos: In ecclesia Dei omnium’, CL 258, fol. 29r and CGC I, fols 79v–80r; ‘Constantinopolitanis scribens. In ecclesia Dei, in omnium’, CL 234, fol. 153r; (iii) ‘in epistola ad Anastasium Thessalonicensis? Episcopum suum per Orientem legatum: Aliter enim in ecclesia Dei, quae corpus est Christi, nec rata sunt sacerdotia, nec vera sacrificia’, CL 258, fol. 29r and CGC I, fol. 80r; ‘Scribit [Leo] etiam Anatholio, quod obscurius Lanfranco citanti erat, sic: Aliter enim in ecclesia Dei, quae corpus est Christi, nec grata sunt sacerdotia, nec rata sacraficia’, CL 234, fol. 152v. Indeed, Oecolampadius then added the rest of Leo’s sentence, since he thought it clarified that Christ remained at God’s right hand interceding for his people. Cranmer also bracketed that quotation, but it does not appear in the ‘Great Commonplaces’)

fols 79v–80r

Tertullianus de resurrectione’ (fol. 159v)

fol. 120r–v

Chrysostomus super Ioannem Homilia XLVI’ (fol. 159v) and ‘Chrysostomus Homilia XX in Secundam ad Corinthios’ (fols 159v–160r) and ‘Chrysostomus in Matthaeum Homilia XI Operis imperfecti’ (fol. 160r)

fols 86r–89r

In sermone de unctione chrysmatis, qui asscribitur Cypriano’ (fol. 162r)

fols 94r, 123r–v

Fulgentius ad Thrasamundum, Liber II’ (fols 164v–165r) (NB that the quotation in CL 234 is much longer than that in CGC I and that there are significant textual differences. CL 234 has ‘ad Thrasamundum’, ‘divinam vero’, ‘ad coelum’, ‘certissimo sermone potest cognosci’, ‘suam humanitatem’, ‘sum usque’ and ‘Deus est’, whereas CGC I has ‘ad transmundum’, ‘vero divinam’, ‘ad coelos’, ‘certissimo potest cognosci sermone’, ‘humanitatem suam’, ‘sum omnibus diebus usque’ and ‘est Deus’) and ‘Fulgentius ad Thrasamundum, Liber III’ (fol. 166r)

fol. 123r–v

Fulgentius ad Monymum’ (fol. 168v)

fol. 94r

Augustinus in sermone ad infantes’ (fol. 168r)

fol. 91v

Augustinus et in alio sermone de sacramentis fidelium’ (fol. 168v)

fols 90r–92v, 97r–99r, 120v–122v

Ex compendio synodorum’ (fol. 154r), ‘Bernardus in sermone coenae Domini’ (fol. 155v), ‘[Bernardus] sermone 39 in Cantica’ (fol. 156r) and ‘Hesychius Liber IIII’ (fol. 158v)


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Null, A. (2021). Thomas Cranmer’s Reputation Reconsidered. In: Crankshaw, D.J., Gross, G.W.C. (eds) Reformation Reputations. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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