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Boccaccios Apologie der heidnischen Dichtung in den Genealogie deorum gentilium, Buch 14: Text, Ubersetzung, Kommentar und Abhandlung.

Brigitte Hege. Tubingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 1997. 302 pp. DM 88. ISBN: 3-86057-183-4.

Among recent German publications, scholars will find a gratifying number of works echoing the Renaissance humanist's call Ad fontes! This selection of books, providing modern critical texts and studies or the bibliographical tools to access the original editions, deals with two subjects: the Reuchlin Affair in pre-Reformation Germany; and the Reformation debate itself. The second group, which focuses on the decades between the Diet of Augsburg and the Council of Trent and its aftermath, is substantially concerned with efforts to restore religious peace.


A team of scholars under the leadership of Hans-Gert Roloff is in the process of publishing critical texts and translations of Johann Reuchlin's works. The pioneering Hebraist was at the center of a drawn-out controversy over Johannes Pfefferkorn's quest to have all Hebrew books confiscated. The resulting inquisition and the polemics it engendered between humanists and scholastic theologians turned the affair into a cause celebre. Reuchlin's tribulations were indicative of two currents in pre-Reformation Germany: systemic antisemitism and the debate over the merit of language studies. The publication of Reuchlin's works will contribute substantially to our understanding of these two issues. The planned edition is arranged in eleven volumes, with the first two devoted to Reuchlin's principal works, De verbo mirifico (1494) and De arte cabbalistica (1517). The Reuchlin affair is the subject of volume 4, which will include both Reuchlin's polemical writings and those of his opponent Johannes Pfefferkorn, as well as related texts documenting the course of the controversy. Volume 3 is devoted to Reuchlin's poems and orations; volumes 5-10 to his various philological works, translations, and minor writings. The final volume will present documents casting light on Reuchlin's life and works. Volume 1.1 has now appeared. It contains, on facing pages, the Latin text of De verbo mirifico and a German version, the only modern translation available, as far as I know. It successfully reproduces the structure and style of the original without sacrificing accuracy or clarity. Quotations in Reuchlin's text are identified in marginal notes. The text is followed by a description of the manuscript tradition, the publication history of the book, and the apparatus. A separate volume (1.2) containing a commentary on the text is forthcoming. Reuchlin's work is cast in the form of a dialogue between the Hebrew "Baruchias," the pagan "Sidonius," and the Christian Wolfgang Capito, the only historical figure, and here Reuchlin's mouthpiece. The dialogue is an effort to synthesize the religious ideas of antiquity, Judaism, and Christianity. In the first two books, Reuchlin addresses the relationship between mortal humans and eternal godhead and discusses the miraculous power of words. In the third, he explains the meaning of the tetragram IHVH (flesh) and its expansion into the pentagram IHSVH (Jesus), the verbum mirificum which represents the sum of wisdom and the salvation of humanity.

The Reuchlin affair is also the subject of a book by Hans Peterse that focuses on the polemic between the Hebraist and his prosecutor, the inquisitor Jacobus Hoogstraeten. Peterse's book begins with brief biographies of the two antagonists. In the main section, the author examines the historical background of the controversy and its underlying causes, or rather, he presents a historiographical study that keeps the reader guessing at his own interpretation. Peterse then traces the progress of the affair as it wound its way through the courts. He concentrates on the role Hoogstraeten played in the formal condemnation of Reuchlin's Augenspiegel by the faculty of theology at Cologne (1511-13), the proceedings against Reuchlin in Mainz and Speyer (1513/14), and the appeal to the papal court, which ended with a fine for Reuchlin in 1520. In this context Peterse further examines sixteenth-century attitudes toward Jews and the Talmud, as well as the reaction of humanistic scholars in Germany and Italy to the affair. In addition to quoting extensively from the sources, Peterse provides a valuable guide to Hoogstraeten's writings that will aid readers in locating the original editions in European libraries.


Im Schatten der Confessio Augustana, a collection of essays which grew out of a colloquium held at the University of Augsburg in 1994, investigates a number of subjects relevant to the Diet of Augsburg (1530). The editor, Herbert Immenkotter, provides an introduction written with a fine sense of humor not often found in scholarly publications. He is also the author of the first contribution which explains the conditions under which the religious negotiations took place. The essays that follow Immenkotter's examine: the political dimension of the religious debate and its effect on the negotiations, 1530-1557 (R. Decot); the debate over communion in two kinds (G. Wenz); the influence of Erasmian ideas on the negotiations of 1530 (B. Lohse); and the Catholic Concordiapolitik (E. Honee). Several of the essays break new ground: Christian Peters provides an incisive analysis of Melanchthon's revisions to his apologia for the Augsburg Confession; Reinhard Schwarz inquires into Eck's and Melanchthon's anthropology and the extent of their agreement. The latter essay must be read in conjunction with Schwarz's second contribution, "Johann Ecks Diputationsthesen vom Mai 1519 uber die erbsundliche concupiscentia - Ein Angriff auf Luthers Sundenverstandnis," which is complemented by the text of Johann Eck's theses (1519). Another contribution, also offering text and analysis, deserves special attention: Rosemary Aulinger's essay, "Die Verhandlungen der Kurfursten Albrecht von Mainz und Ludwig von der Pfalz mit Karl V. 1532 in Mainz: 'Missing Link' zwischen dem Reichstag 1530 und dem Nurnberger Anstand 1532." Aulinger's essay is followed by an appendix containing the German text of the proposals of the two electors, the emperor's reply, and their response to his reply. The exchange has so far been available only in French (ed. K. Lanz in Staatspapiere zur Geschichte des Kaisers Karl V, Stuttgart, 1845). Aulinger's text is based on a German version, extant in the Mainzer Erzkanzlerarchiv in Vienna. The volume concludes with the record of a discussion by participants in the 1994 colloquy concerning two documents: Sebastian Heller's Verzaichnis und Erclerung zu CA 1-21 and Hieronymus Vehus's report on the same articles. The relevant texts are appended, but are available also in Honee's edition (1988) and in K. E. Forstemann's Urkundenbuch (1833, reprinted 1966) respectively. It is a convenience, however, to have the texts and the discussion side by side.

The religious debate and efforts at reunification are also the subject of Barbara Henze's monograph on Witzel, the Lutheran pastor who returned to the Catholic faith in 1531 and became one of the most important advocates of religious peace. Henze traces his image in biographies from the sixteenth century to the present day. Pointing out problem areas and revealing the bias of Witzel's early biographers, Henze follows up with a detailed factual biography of her own. She proceeds to discuss Witzel's circle of acquaintances, his contacts with humanists, reformers, and noble patrons. Her study focuses on Witzel as Vermittlungstheologe, irenicist, and humanist. The main section of the work discusses Witzel's principal theological tenets. His teaching was characterized by a Christocentric approach, an emphasis on good works, a positive anthropology, and sharp criticism of scholastic "quibbling." Witzel's concept of the "old church" as model and normative standard is of central importance to an understanding of his efforts to find a formula for religious peace. It is based on the view that the traditions of the church suffered a progressive deterioration, descending from the Golden Age of the apostles to the Iron Age of medieval theologians. In consequence, Witzel gives preference to patristic over scholastic interpretations of the Bible. His criteria are not strictly chronological, however, but also contain the notion that consensus as well as antiquity were necessary for the validation of an interpretation. The discovery, in the course of his studies, that consensus was lacking even among the earliest exegetes led to an impasse, as Henze points out, "eine tragisch zu nennende Situation [in der] keine Institution, auch die Kirchenvater und Konzilien nicht, die gewunschte Schlichtungs-instanz darstellen kann" (207). Witzel now increasingly focused on a political solution to the religious conflict. In 1564 he was commissioned by Ferdinand to draw up a report on the doctrinal issues dividing the religious parties. The report formed the basis of Witzel's best known work, Via Regia, and his conclusion that continuing reformation was necessary and integral to the process of maintaining the spirit of the early church. Henze observes that Witzel looked to the Catholic Church for leadership in bringing about this reformation. He expected the pope to take the initiative in shaping the spiritual reform and the emperor to promote its execution and enforcement.

Henze supplies a number of graphs and statistics helpful in the analysis of Witzel's works and illustrating their printing history and distribution. She has, moreover, uncovered copies of editions previously known only from Witzel's descriptive catalogue. An appendix providing a definitive list of Witzel's works will aid readers in search of the original texts. It includes a key to Witzel's correspondence and supplies the names of addressees who are identified in the letters by initials only.

While the books discussed so far are meant for specialists, Heinz Finger's slim book on Reformation and Catholic reform in the Rhine region is an excellent introduction to the subject for the general reader. The book was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the Universitats-und Landesbibliothek Dusseldorf and is generously illustrated with reproductions of title pages of sixteenth-century books in the library and of engravings portraying Konrad Heresbach, Petrus Canisius, Johannes Gropper, Friedrich Myconius, Hermann von Wied, Duke Wilhelm of Julich-Cleves, and Duke Johann Friedrich of Saxony, among others. Part 1 of the book offers readers an introduction to the historical developments leading up to the Reformation in the sixteenth century, with special attention to the social, political, and economic conditions in the Rhine region and the printing presses active there. Part 2 deals with a somewhat incongruous collection of subjects, from the peasant uprisings of 1525 to the resignation of Archbishop Hermann von Wied in 1547. It devotes individual sections to the reformer Friedrich Myconius and the colloquy of Dusseldorf, to the heresy trial of Adolf Clarenbach, and the reforms of the Dukes of Julich-Cleves. The most important contributions to this section are an examination of the failed reform attempts of Hermann von Wied in Cologne and the abortive attempts of Duke William to establish a university at Duisburg. These accounts lead up to an evaluation of Reformkatholizismus on the Lower Rhine in the European context, a brief characterization of confessionalization - a process that gained momentum in the 1540s, and of the Jesuit "counter-reformation." The brief treatment of Luther's reaction to Catholic reform in the Lower Rhine region, which constitutes part 4, remains episodic. Part 5, by contrast, offers an integrated study of Konrad Heresbach, one of the humanistically trained councillors at the court of Julich Cleves, and a versatile scholar whose published works include writings on agriculture, a history of Anabaptism, philological studies, and a pedagogical tract. The exhibition that prompted the publication of this book thus not only called attention to the sources as physical objects and historical remains but has also produced a more permanent source of information to appreciate their significance.

Brigitte Hege's text, translation, and analysis of Boccaccio's Genealogia deorum may seem an unlikely candidate for inclusion in a review of books dealing with the religious debate in the sixteenth century. English readers, moreover, have the benefit of a translation of books 14 and 15 by Charles Grosvenor Osgood and his detailed commentary on them. Hege's publication, however, contains an appendix that is of interest in the present context. It concerns Natalis Conti's Mythologiae (1551), subtitled In quibus omnia prope naturalis et moralis philosophiae dogmata sub antiquorum fabulis contenta fuisse demonstratur ("in which it is shown that all teachings of natural and moral philosophy are contained in the fables of antiquity"). Conti hesitated whether to dedicate the 1567 edition of his work to Emperor Maximilian II or to the French king Charles IX, finally deciding on the latter. Making his deliberations public gave Conti an opportunity to praise both monarchs for their efforts to protect the Catholic church against the Protestant challenge and to express his hope for a reunification of the church. The book itself contains an excursus, admonishing Lutherans to return to the "true" faith, and other asides in which the author takes a stand against violent religious debates and a forceful resolution of doctrinal questions. Unlike Boccaccio, who tends to set the Christian dogma caeleste or dogma sacrum apart from the teachings of poets and pagan philosophers, Conti tries to level the differences between Christian and other philosophical/theological teachings. In the proem to book 10 he presents a unified vision of the world, in which ancient pagan and Christian ideas are seen as reconcilable.

This brings to a close the circle of reviews which began with Reuchlin's De verbo mirifico, a work carrying the same message. The collective significance of the five books lies in the pointed referral of the reader to primary sources and the implicit invitation to follow their lead. By facilitating access to sources, the books provide a seedbed for future research. May they produce an ample harvest.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Rummel, Erika
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 1998
Previous Article:Reformation und Katholische Reform im Rheinland.
Next Article:Aus Liebe zur Kirche Reform: Die Bemuhungen Georg Witzels (1501-1573) um die Kircheneinheit.

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