Emblem of Faith Untouched: A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer

Emblem of Faith Untouched: A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer

Leslie Williams

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) was the first Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the author of the Book of Common Prayer, and a central figure in the English Protestant Reformation. Few theologians have led such an eventful life: Cranmer helped Henry VIII break with the pope, pressed his vision of the Reformation through the reign of Edward VI, was forced to recant under Queen Mary, and then dramatically withdrew his recantations before being burned alive.

Williams masterfully displays the tension between Cranmer’s two central loyalties—allegiance to the crown and fidelity to the Reformation faith.

This lively biography by Leslie Williams narrates Cranmer’s life from the beginning, through his education and history with the monarchy, to his ecclesiastical trials and eventual martyrdom. Williams portrays Cranmer’s ongoing struggle to reconcile his two central loyalties—allegiance to the crown and fidelity to the Reformation faith—as she tells his fascinating life story.


Leslie Williams is an English professor, writer, and three-time Fellow of Yale Divinity School. Her other books include The Judas Conspiracy and When Anything Goes: Being Christian in a Post-Christian World.


Paul F. M. Zahl
—coauthor of The Collects of Thomas Cranmer
“Leslie Williams has composed an extremely accessible life of Thomas Cranmer. It is written vividly but simply, clearly but affectingly. She has captured the man—and she also underlines Cranmer’s importance for contemporary conflicts within the Anglican Church. Though long dead, the Archbishop speaketh still!”

Justin Lewis-Anthony
—Virginia Theological Seminary
“A sprightly and nuanced telling of the life and times of Thomas Cranmer. Williams avoids the temptation of making Cranmer and his contemporaries twenty-first-century people in fancy dress. These are people of their times, but recognizably human and struggling with perennial questions of faith and practice, discipleship and power. Warmly recommended.”

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