Thursday, August 30, 2012

8: John Jewel (1522-1571), bishop and first Anglican apologist

John Jewel (1522-1571) ... the first Anglican apologist and the ‘worthiest divine Christendom hath bred’

Patrick Comerford

John Jewel (1522-1571), whose surname is sometimes spelled Jewell, was a friend of Cranmer and Ridley, was exiled in the reign of Queen Mary, and later became Bishop of Salisbury. But he is best known as the first Anglican apologist and, in the words of Richard Hooker, as the “worthiest divine Christendom hath bred for the space of some hundreds of years.”

Jewel was born on 24 May 1522, the son of John Jewel of Buden in North Devonshire. He was one of ten children, and was educated privately by his mother’s brother, the Revd John Bellamy, Rector of Hampton, and other private tutors. During his schooldays, he contracted smallpox and his later weak health may have owed something to this illness.

In July 1535, he matriculated at Merton College, Oxford, where he studied under John Pankhurst, who “was beginning at this time to be alive to the errors of Romanism.” It is said Pankhurst, who later became the Bishop of Norwich, first introduced Jewel to the ideas and thinking of the Reformation.

Corpus Christi College, Oxford ... Jewel was elected a fellow in 1542

In August 1539, Jewel transferred to Corpus Christi College, founded in 1517 by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, as a centre for new learning in the University of Oxford. One of its earliest fellows, Reginald Pole, was Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Mary. Jewel graduated BA (Bachelor of Arts) on 20 August 1540, was elected a Fellow of Corpus Christi College on 18 March 1542, and proceeded MA (Master of Arts) on 28 January 1545. He remained in Oxford as a tutor at Corpus Christi College and as a reader in the Humanities and in Rhetoric.

In 1548, the Italian reformer Peter Martyr (Pietro Marture Vermigli), who had come to England at the invitation of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and he and Jewel soon befriended each other. Jewel later described Peter Martyr as “my father, my pride, even the half of my soul.”

John Jewell’s porch in Saint Leonard’s Church, Sunningwell, where he was rector in the 1550s

Jewell was probably ordained in 1551, the year he was appointed the Rector of Sunningwell, in Berkshire (but now in Oxfordshire), a parish about 5 or 6 km south of Oxford. He seems to have continued living in Oxford, visiting his parish on Sundays to take services. He received the degree BD (Bachelor of Divinity) in 1552, and was appointed public orator of Oxford University. In that role, he composed a letter of congratulations to Mary on her accession to the throne in 1553.

The Martyrs’ Memorial at the south end of St Giles’ near Baliol College in Oxford ... Jewel acted on behalf of Cranmer and Ridley at their trials (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mary I’s accession brought an end to the reforms of Edward VI’s reign. When Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley were put on trial in Oxford in April 1554, Jewel acted as their notary. However, in the autumn of 1554, Jewel signed a series of Catholic articles. Whether he did this of duty to the new monarch, to save his life or “for the sake of quietness,” he regretted his action for the rest of his life and his opponents, both Puritans and Roman Catholics, constantly used it against him in arguments.

Corpus Christi College expelled him for not attending the Mass, for preaching heresy and for his friendship with Peter Martyr. He found a new home in Broadgates Hall, now Pembroke College, and there he gathered many pupils. But he was living under suspicion, and he fled first to London then to Frankfurt, where he arrived in March 1555.

Jewel was not warmly welcomed by John Knox and William Whittingham. He was suspected after signing the Catholic articles in Oxford, although he made a public confession to atone for his weakness.

Jewel sided with Richard Cox and his supporters against Knox and Whittingham. Cox stood for the 1552 Book of Common Prayer and the teachings of Cranmer, whereas Knox and Whittingham wanted a far more Puritan service and adhered to the doctrines of Calvin. The rift between the Cox and Knox and their supporters continued to widen. Eventually Cox and Jewel complained to the magistrates and Knox was ejected from the city, while Jewel left Frankfurt and joined Peter Martyr in Strasbourg. The two friends then travelled to Zurich and also Padua.

Jewel believed that under the Catholic Mary Tudor England had relapsed into “a wilderness of superstition.” When she died in November 1558 and was succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth I, the English Protestant exiles began to return home. Jewel returned with them, and sought to secure a “Low Church” or more Puritan or evangelical settlement of religion. Later, however, he accommodated his views to those of the new monarch, modifying his theology gradually in the light of his experiences of office and responsibility.

The site of Saint Paul’s Cross, on the north-east side of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, is marked by a more recent monument (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

He was one of the theologians selected to debate with leading Roman Catholics at the conference of Westminster after Easter 1559. He was appointed the select preacher at Saint Paul’s Cross, beside old Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, on 15 June, and preached there regularly. He was nominated Bishop of Salisbury on 27 July 1559, but during the autumn months that followed, he was engaged as one of the royal visitors of the western counties.

In a sermon at Saint Paul’s Cross on 26 November 1559, he challenged all comers to prove the Roman Catholic. In his “Challenge Sermon,” Jewel outlined 27 “abuses” held by the Roman Catholic Church, including private masses, the distribution of the Holy Communion only in one kind, and the prohibition on people reading the Bible in their own language.

He said Roman Catholics, and not Anglicans, were guilty of innovation and heresy. He offered to return to that church if anyone could prove the case for these doctrines from the Bible, from the Fathers of the Church or from the decrees of the Councils of the Church in the first six centuries. His sermon, which provide the foundation for Jewel’s later work and become an important moment in Anglican theology, was based on I Corinthians 11: 23: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread...”

Salisbury Cathedral ... John Jewel was consecrated Bishop of Salisbury on 21 January 1560

When Jewel was consecrated Bishop of Salisbury on 21 January 1560, he found that the diocese had been impoverished by his predecessor, John Capon. He set about reforming the diocese, visiting parishes, encouraging the clergy to preach regularly, and preaching in the churches himself.

Following his consecration, he preached his Challenge Sermon again on 17 March before the court and at Saint Paul’s Cross just before Easter. Each time he repeated the challenge he had made at Saint Paul’s Cross the previous November:

“If any learned man of all our adversaries, or if all the learned men that be alive, be able to bring out of any old Catholic Doctor, or Father; or out of any old General Council; Or out of the Holy Scriptures of God, or any one example of the primitive church, whereby it may be clearly and plainly proved, that there was any private mass in the whole world at that time, for the space of six hundred years after Christ; Or [and here he lists 14 practices in the Roman Catholic Church with which he disagreed] ...; I promised then that I would give over and subscribe unto him.”

Dr Henry Cole, Mary Tudor’s Dean of Saint Paul's and a former Provost of Eton College, took up the challenge, but this resulted in Cole being imprisoned in the Tower of London.

As Jewel articulated his arguments in an exchange of letters with Cole, he wrote in Latin his Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae (An Apology of the Church of England). This was published in 1562 and is considered by Chapman as tyhe standard work in defining Anglican theology and by McGrath and others as the groundwork for much of Anglican theology that followed. Creighton sees it as the first methodical statement of the position of the Church of England.

During the years 1563-1564, Jewel was probably involved in issuing the Second Book of Homilies.

A more formidable antagonist than Cole was Thomas Harding, who was also from Devon and who had been one of Jewel’s contemporaries in Oxford. Harding once held Protestant views during the reign of Edward VI, but had returned to Catholicism in Mary I’s reign. He became Bishop Stephen Gardiner’s confessor and a canon-in-residence and treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral. Jewel had ejected Harding from Salisbury Cathedral for recusancy, and by then he was living in exile in Belgium.

A literary and theological battle, known as “the Great Controversy,” developed between the two. In 1564, Harding published an elaborate and bitter Answer to M. Juelles Challenge, which was followed in 1565 by Jewel’s Replie, then Harding’s Confutation in 1565 and Jewel’s Defence of the Apology in 1567. Their debate covered the whole field of theology that divided Anglicans and Roman Catholics, and their exchanges continued until Jewel’s death.

John Jewel’s ‘Defence of the Apology’ was published in 1567

As Bishop of Salisbury, Jewel became increasingly hostile to Puritan demands, and he refused admission to a benefice to his friend Lawrence Humphrey, who would not wear a surplice. He wrote an attack on Thomas Cartwright; which was published posthumously by John Whitgift (1532-1604), Archbishop of Canterbury.

Jewel was taken ill and collapsed after preaching in Lacock, Wiltshire. He was taken to the episcopal manor house at Monkton Farleigh, and he died there on 23 September 1571 at the age of 49. He was buried in Salisbury Cathedral, where he had built a library.

Jewel’s legacy

Jewel’s Apology was translated from Latin into English in 1564 by Anne, Lady Bacon, mother of Francis Bacon. CS Lewis writes of this translation: “If quality without bulk were enough, Lady Bacon might be put forward as the best of all sixteenth-century translators.” Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, wanted it made a set text for schools and universities, alongside the 39 Articles and The Book of Common Prayer.

The Apology defended Anglicanism against Roman Catholic criticisms of “innovation” and “schism” and was a vindication of the basis of authority in the Church of England.

It soon became one of the key texts of Anglican identity. It is an early embodiment of Anglican apologetics that are both Catholic and reformed,, setting the firm foundations of Scripture, Reason and Tradition. It gained what Mark Chapman describes as “semi-offiical status” in late Elizabethan and early Jacobean England and was bought by many parish churches as a “very notable and learned confutation of all the principal points of popery.”

In the reign of James I, Jewel’s works were published in 1609 under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft, who ordered his Apology to be placed in all parish churches throughout England.

He was the patron of the theologian Richard Hooker, who described Jewel as being the “worthiest divine Christendom hath bred for the space of some hundreds of years,” and who elevated Jewel’s Apology to a status equivalent to the 39 Articles, and Prayer Book Catechism.

Hooker had been prepared by Jewel as a student for university, and Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity owes much to Jewel’s training.

The west porch of Saint Leonard’s Church in Sunningwell, where Jewel was Rector, is said to have been his gift to the parish after he returned from his Continental exile. This unique, seven-sided porch, with a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance features, is attached to the west end of the church, under the shade of an old yew tree.

John Jewel’s Apology
John Jewel’s Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae, published in 1562, is considered by many as the groundwork for much Anglican theology

John Jewel’s 1562 An Apology for the Church of England is the first methodical and cohesive presentation of Anglican theological thinking and answers the challenges and accusations posed to Anglicans at the time by Roman Catholic theologians. It could be argued that it forms the groundwork of all subsequent Anglican theology.

In the Apology, Jewel argues that a general reformation had been necessary, that reform by a body such as the Council of Trent was impossible, and that local Churches had the right to legislate through provincial synods.

The Apology is a relatively short work that runs to 42 pages in Latin and 56 pages in the Parker Society’s English language version. It is divided into six sections:

1 addresses the attacks made against Protestantism in Jewel’s day;
2 expounds Protestant doctrine;
3 claims the Church of England is in the true line of succession from the early Church Fathers;
4 exposes the scandals of the Church of Rome and the errors which he said it had fallen into;
5 discredits the claims of Rome to have the support of the Church Fathers;
6 argues against accepting the judgments of the Council of Trent.

Jewel claims that the Catholicity of the Church of England is provided by its doctrinal succession from the Apostles. Evidence for this claim of Catholicity is gathered through comparing the Church of England’s doctrine with that of the Church of the first six centuries. Those who cannot justify their views from Scripture prefer their “cold inventions” to the truth, which they have defaced and corrupted, he said.

Jewel then outlines the Christian faith as practised in the Church of England, basing his discussion on the Historic Creeds, and hen addressing the three-fold ordained ministry.

According to Scripture and the Patristic sources, no bishop is superior to any other, nor is any “worldly creature” to set himself up as head of the whole Church, as the Bishop of Rome had presumed to do, surrounded by his “parasites [who] flatteringly sing in his ears.”

Jewel then defends the Church of England’s position on the marriage of priests, Eucharistic doctrine and practices, and liturgical customs. If new and divisive ideas had been introduced into the Church, he said, this had been done by Rome, not by the Church of England, which had restored ancient practice.

Jewel concluded his Apology by defending, on the basis of ancient practice, the right of the Church of England to reform itself by means of a regional synod called by the secular authority.

Jewel agrees with other Reformers that Scripture was the ultimate authority for doctrine and practice, and that neither the Pope nor any other bishop is entitled to decide what the Scripture means. But Jewel differs from some of the Reformers in that he did not believe that Scripture is always clear in its meaning. When the meaning of Scripture is not clear, he argues, one should appeal to the Councils of the Church and the Early Fathers, to those who lived nearest the time of Christ, and ask what sense they made of Scripture.

The test of any teaching or practice in the Church, he says, is not whether it had been accepted by the mediaeval church, which had introduced “sundry horrible enormities,” but whether it can be supported by appeal to the Bible and the earliest Christian understandings of the Bible.

John Jewel in his own words:

O that our adversaries, and all they that stand in defence of the Mass this day, would content themselves to be judged by this rule! O that, in all the controversies that lie between us and them, they would remit the judgment unto God’s word! So should we soon agree and join together: so should we deliver nothing unto the people but what we have received at God’s hand. (Challenge Sermon)

For these causes, I say, we have thought fit, by this book, to give an account of our faith, and to answer truly and publicly, what hath been publicly objected against us, that the whole world may see the parts and reasons of that faith, which so many good men have valued above their lives, and that all mankind may understand what kind of men they are, and what they think of God and religion ... (Apology I.10)

Allow everyone to determine with themselves, whether that faith which they must needs perceive to be consonant to the words of Christ and the writings of the apostles, and the testimonies of the catholic fathers, and which is confirmed by the examples of many ages, be only the rage of a sort of madmen, and a combination or conspiracy of heretics. (Apology I.17)

Thus we have been taught by Christ, by the apostles and holy fathers; and we do faithfully teach the people of God the same things. (Apology III.2).

We say that man is born in sin and leadeth his life in sin, and that no man can truly say his heart is clean; that the most holy man is an unprofitable servant; that the law of God is perfect, and requires of us a full and perfect obedience; and that we cannot in any way keep it perfectly in this life; and that there is no mortal who can be justified in the sight of God by his own deserts; and therefore our only refuge and safety is in the mercy of God the Father, by Jesus Christ, and in the assuring ourselves that he is the propitiation for our sins, by whose blood all our stains are washed out; that he has pacified all things by the blood of his cross; that he by that only sacrifice which he once offered upon the cross, hath perfected all things; and therefore, when he breathed out his soul, he said, it is finished; as if by these words he would signify, Now the price is paid for the sins of mankind. (Apology II.21)

Christ himself dwelleth in our hearts by faith (Apology, II.23).

We affirm that bread and wine are holy and heavenly mysteries of the body and blood of Christ, and that by them Christ Himself, being the true bread of eternal life, is so presently given unto us as that by faith we verily receive his body and his blood. (Apology II.15).

In the Lord’s Supper there is truly given unto the believing the body and blood of the Lord, the flesh of the Son of God, which quickeneth our souls, the meat that cometh from above, the food of immortality, grace, truth, and life; and the Supper to be the communion of the body and blood of Christ, by partaking whereof we be revived, we be strengthened, and be fed unto immortality, and whereby we are joined, united, and incorporate unto Christ, that we may abide in him, and he in us. (Apology II)

In speaking thus, we mean not to abase the Lord’s Supper, that it is but a cold ceremony only, and nothing to be wrought therein (as many falsely slander us we teach). For we affirm, that Christ doth truly and presently give his own self in his sacraments; in Baptism, that we may put him on; and in his Supper, that we may eat him by faith and spirit, and may have everlasting life by his cross and blood. And we say not, this is done slightly and coldly, but effectually and truly. For although we do not touch the body of Christ with teeth and mouth, yet we hold him fast, and eat him by faith, by understanding, and by the Spirit. And it is no vain faith which doth comprehend Christ: and that is not received with cold devotion, that is received with understanding, with faith, and with spirit. For Christ Himself altogether is so offered and given us in these mysteries, that we may certainly know we be flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones; and that Christ “continueth in us, and we in Him.” And therefore in celebrating these mysteries, the people are to good purpose exhorted before they come to receive the Holy Communion, to lift up their hearts, and to direct their minds to heavenward: because he is there, by whom we must be full fed, and live. (Apology II.15).

Nevertheless we keep still and esteem, not only those ceremonies which we are sure were delivered us from the apostles, but some others too besides, which we thought might be suffered without hurt to the church of God; because we had a desire that all things in the Holy Congregation might (as Paul Commandeth) ‘be done with comeliness and in good order’; but as for all those things which we saw were either very superstitious or unprofitable, or noisome, or mockeries, or contrary to the Holy Scriptures, or else unseemly for honest or discreet folks, as there be an infinite number nowadays where papistry is used, these I say, we have utterly refused without all manner exception.

We have departed from that church, which they had made a den of thieves, in which they had left nothing sound or like a church, and which they themselves confessed to have erred in many things, as Lot left Sodom, or Abraham Chaldea, not out of contention, but out of obedience to God; and have sought the certain way of religion out of the sacred Scriptures, which we know cannot deceive us, and have returned to the primitive church of the ancient fathers and apostles, that is, to the beginning a first rise of the church, as to the proper fountain. (Apology, Conclusion 1)

If the Church of Rome would now faithfully keep the traditions and doctrines of the apostles, we would frankly yield her all that honour that Irenaeus giveth her.

Select Bibliography:

John E. Booty, John Jewel as Apologist of the Church of England (London: SPCK, 1963, for the Church Historical Society).
Mark D. Chapman, Anglican Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2012).
John Craig, ‘Jewel, John,’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), vol 30, pp 108-113.
(Bishop) Mandell Creighton, ‘Jewel, John,’ Dictionary of National Biography.
John Jewel, The Apology of the Church of England, ed Henry Morley (London: Cassell, 1888) Available online at (Project Canterbury, ).
RW Jelf (ed), The Works of John Jewel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1845-1850, for the Parker Society); volume 4 includes a memoir.
Alister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 2nd ed, 1993).
Alister E. McGrath (ed), The SPCK Handbook of Anglican Theologians (London: SPCK, 1998).
William Marshall, Scripture, Tradition and Reason (Dublin: Columba, 2010).
Stephen Neill, Anglicanism (London: Penguin, 3rd ed, 1965).
Richard H. Schmidt, Glorious Companions, Five centuries of Anglican Spirituality (Grand Rapids and Michigan: Eerdmans, 2002).

Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

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