Annotations and Meditations on the Gospels.
Annotations and Meditations on the Gospels. By Jerome Nadal, S.J. Cumulative index by Joseph P. Lea, with a Study by Walter Melion. Philadelphia: St. Joseph's University, 2014. Pp. x+ 196. $39.95.
Nadal's well-known notations and meditations on the Gospel texts read at Mass were first published in the 1590s. In 2003-2007, St. Joseph's University Press published selections from them in English translation, in three volumes: Infancy narratives (I), Passion narratives (II), and Resurrection narratives (III). This volume now offers an index of the earlier volumes, as well as glossy, high-quality reproductions of many of the illustrations that accompanied Nadal's text, along with an essay by art historian Walter Melion.
The index is in fact four indices: persons, scriptural, subjects, and iconographical material. The longest and most interesting is the subjects index. The array of topics at least mentioned by Nadal is wide, and includes angels, anxiety, camels, compassion, desire, discernment, dogs, earthquakes, friendship, goats, hairshirts, kisses, Limbo, lunatics, mercy, milk, mortification, nakedness, pain, pilgrimage, prisons, sloth, snakes, tears, tyranny, wisdom, wrath, and zeal. The index of persons reveals that Nadal, though focused on the Gospels, often cited figures from the Hebrew Scriptures such as David, Job, or Moses; the scriptural index shows that the Psalms were the Old Testament texts he most often cited.
Does all or any of this matter for our understanding of Nadal (1507-1580) and the first generations of Jesuits? M.'s essay usefully recalls that Nadal's annotations and meditations were written and published above all for use by Jesuit novices and scholastics, yet in fact they also accompanied Jesuit missionaries around the world. M. focuses mainly on how both Nadal's texts and the images published with them followed closely the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent on topics such as justification of the sinner, free will, the Mass, and the saints. As M. shows clearly, Nadal presented Jesus as God's mercy made present and visible, a mercy that may not, however, extend to heretics worthy of the fires of hell. Thus an anti-Protestant agenda animated the older Nadal; one may ask what Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) would have thought of this.
Thomas Worcester, S.J.
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
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|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2016|
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