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Journal > Volumes > 42 (2011) / 3 (Autumn)
Confession, Contention, and Confusion: The Last Words of Robert Barnes and the Shaping of Theological Identity
Korey D. Maas
Concordia University, Irvine, California

When the prominent Henrician evangelical Robert Barnes was burned as a heretic in July 1540, a flurry of pamphleteering ensued both in England and abroad. Coming quickly to dominate this polemical output was the text of Barnes’s last words spoken at the stake, which were printed in at least two languages and published by polemicists of three distinct theological orientations, and which survive in twenty editions. Because the extant editions of Barnes’s words contain significant variants, they afford a unique opportunity to investigate the processes and complexities of martyrological identity shaping. It is argued that, being aware of attempts to obscure his theology and thus prevent his memorialization as a martyr, Barnes, with his last words, consciously attempted to shape his own posthumous theological identity; his manner of doing so, however, not only complicated his enemies’ attempts to vilify him, but also forced his evangelical allies to reshape the identity he had meant to craft for himself.

Pages: 689 - 707