Another passage from Wolf Hall that powerfully expresses the appeal of Reformation theology to people in the 16th century. “He” is the central character in Hilary Mantel’s novel, Thomas Cromwell – or as 1066 And All That put it, “Cromwell (not to be confused with Cromwell)”:
The London gardens are bright with berries. There is an obdurate winter ahead. But he feels a force ready to break, as spring breaks from the dead tree. As the word of God spreads, the people’s eyes are opened to new truths. Until now, like Helen Barre, they knew Noah and the Flood, but not St Paul. They could count over the sorrows of our Blessed Mother, and say how the damned are carried down to Hell. But they did not know the manifold miracles and sayings of Christ, nor the words and deeds of the apostles, simple men who, like the poor of London, pursued simple wordless trades. The story is much bigger than they ever thought it was.
He says to his nephew Richard, you cannot tell people just part of the tale and then stop, or just tell them the parts you choose. They have seen their religion painted on the walls of churches, or carved in stone, but now God’s pen is poised, and he is ready to write his words in the books of their hearts. (pp.515f.)