From Publishers Weekly
Inquisition history, a developing field, provides a key to the "understanding of past societies in their entirety." Peters, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Torture, demonstrates this key function as he traces the transformation of the inquisition tribunal from a simple legal procedural of ancient Rome to its employ as a feared instrument of enforcing religious orthodoxy in the medieval period, to its symbolic use in the works of such contemporary writers as Kafka, Koestler and Miller. In Peters's view, the societal divisions brought about by the Reformation in the 16th century provide the grounds for centuries of polemic, fiction and a vivid mythology that caused the term "The Inquisition" to be persistently associated with coercive authority that attempts to stifle free expression. Richly detailed and relevant in application to contemporary philosophy, this study, mainly of interest to historians and social scientists, establishes the thesis that "the history of myth is a valid part of history."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The term 'inquisitive' carries no frightening overtones; cats are inquisitive, and so are children. There is nothing wrong with an inquiry. But an inquisitor, grand or otherwise, and the inquisition over which he presides, smell of scorched flesh and ecclesiastical injustice. It is the aim of Edward Peters . . . to deal with the term, and its referents, as both true history and false myth. Inquisitions existed; the Inquisition was invented. . . . Mr. Peters's book is as good a compendium as you will find -- scholarly, well annotated, exact but unpedantic." (Anthony Burgess, The New York Times Book Review
See all Editorial Reviews