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El proceso inquisitorial de Fray Luis de Leon.

By the middle of the sixteenth century, Fray Luis de Leon at the youthful age of thirty-four was already a celebrated humanist, theologian, professor, and poet. Such fame, however, came at a considerable cost. Fray Luis' notoriety and his Jewish descent aroused the enmity of his less successful, Dominican rivals at the University of Salamanca. In 1571 his colleagues at the university denounced Fray Luis and two other professors to the Inquisition. He was accused, among other things, of questioning the Vulgate translation of the Bible, referring to the Song of Songs as a profane love song by Solomon, and stating that the Holy Scriptures have no allegorical meaning. As the Inquisitional tribunal functioned at an interminable slow pace, Fray Luis languished in the prison of the Holy Office for nearly five years until he was finally forced to retract several of his statements. He was released in 1576, but six years later he was summoned to the Inquisition once again to defend his stand on a number of controversial issues.

This case has stimulated significant historical interest because it epitomizes the conflict that raged in the intellectual world of sixteenth-century Spain between humanism and religious dogmatism. Now Angel Alcala has supplied researchers with an extremely useful compilation of the documents of Fray Luis' first encounter with the Inquisition. In assembling this new edition, he has done an excellent job of compiling and transcribing not only the proceso itself, but also some never before published correspondence regarding Fray Luis between the tribunal in Valladolid and the Suprema in Madrid.

Alcala precedes the seven hundred pages of documents with a concise introduction that contains an enormous amount of contextual material including the Inquisitional process, biographical information on significant persons, and three pages of bibliographical references. Fortunately, the volume seems to have been composed with the researcher in mind. It is structured chronologically, taking the researcher step by step through the trial. The documents are carefully grouped into sections. In order to be true to the manuscripts, Alcala has chosen to use the original orthography. Alcala also equips the researcher with the appropriate tools to use and understand the documents. An omnastic index allows the reader to pursue certain paths of investigation without perusing every document. Alcala has also gone to great pains carefully to annotate the text. His notes offer helpful biographical information, references to other manuscripts, marginalia, as well as succinct explanations of difficult passages. As Alcala states in the introduction, he did not envision a completely antiseptic edition of the trial. As a result, he was not afraid to provide the reader with critical interpretations in the notes when they might facilitate the reader's understanding of the text.

Intellectual historians as well as those interested in the inner workings of the Inquisition will appreciate the tremendous effort that went into the compilation of these documents. Alcala has provided an extremely valuable edition of a trial that had tremendous intellectual ramifications during an extremely volatile period in Spanish history.

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Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Poska, Allyson M.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1994
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