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Platonic words: Paolo Sarpi and Roberto Bellarmino as translators in the Venetian interdict crisis.

Paolo Sarpi, a Venetian priest of the Servite order, rose to international prominence during the quarrel between the Republic of Venice and Pope Paul V (r. 1605-21) at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The Republic and the pope initially disagreed about specific Venetian laws that placed restrictions on church property and gave secular courts jurisdiction over clergy accused of crimes. By January 1606 it was clear that an immediate resolution to the crisis was unlikely, so the Venetian Senate appointed Sarpi as their theological and legal counselor. In April the pope put Venice under interdict for a year. At the time, the learned Jesuit Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino was archbishop of Capua and an inquisitor general. Sarpi and Bellarmino knew each other, having met in Rome in the late 1580s when Sarpi was procurator general of the Servites and Bellarmino was a professor of theology at the Jesuits' Roman College. (1) In the late sixteenth century they had shared certain affinities, but the interdict crisis led them to oppose each other's political theology in a vigorous pamphlet campaign directed at the Italian public, with Sarpi supporting Venice and Bellarmino the papacy. Sarpi went to print first, and his pamphlets shifted the debates focus from specific Venetian laws to broader questions about the nature and extent of ecclesiastical authority and its relationship to temporal government. They also raised the issue of translation because they were printed in Italian but based on Latin texts. A survey of Sarpi's pamphlets from his debate with Bellarmino reveals that he paid nearly as much attention to language as to specific points of theory.

Existing scholarship on Sarpi has assessed the scope of his religious and intellectual inclinations, (2) his keen understanding of news, (3) and his relationships with the English preacher John Donne (4) and other non-Venetians (5), but many avenues of inquiry, including translation, remain. Peter Burke has surveyed translations of Sarpi's lengthy Istoria del Concilio Tridentino (1619) and found that even the smallest modifications can change the meaning of a text and thus our interpretation of history, but the language of Sarpi's interdict writings remains unanalyzed. (6) This article offers an initial assessment of the Servite's language during the crisis by focusing specifically on his print debate with Cardinal Bellarmino, which, because of the offices the two men held, was the most important part of the broader pamphlet war. (7) To do so, it first considers the general culture of translation in Catholic Europe in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; second, it looks at Sarpi's translation scheme and how it relates to the general culture; and finally, building on Stefania Tutino's work on Bellarminos manuscripts, it analyzes Sarpi's and Bellarminos treatment of words and texts in translation. (8) Sarpi has long been regarded as an antipapist and anti-Council of Trent polemicist, which he undoubtedly was. From the Venetian interdict to the publication of Istoria del Concilio Tridentino twelve years later, Sarpi grew increasingly hostile to the papacy. Yet his earliest published writings, those from the interdict crisis, reveal that during the crisis Sarpi reinforced post-Tridentine translation culture by upholding the Church's understanding of words and by not permitting Bellarmino any latitude with translation, while Bellarminos inability to develop a consistent translation scheme left him and the papacy he defended vulnerable to accusations of ineptitude and dishonesty.


Translation was a sensitive, sometimes contentious issue in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Philology, classical dictates, religious tradition, and the Bible all influenced how people approached the subject. Among the most important biblical passages affecting contemporary understandings of translation was the first chapter of the Gospel of John, which began: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The Latin Vulgate, the Church's standard Bible, translated the original Greek Logos of this passage as verbum, so that it read: In principio erat verbum, et verbum apud deum, et deus erat verbum. The Complutense Polyglot Bible (1514), the first since the introduction of printing to include multiple languages side by side on a page, also used verbum and introduced the Gospel with a prologue that borrowed considerably from Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on the Gospel of John. (9) The prologue stated that John was the only one to testify that the incorruptible Word (verbum) became flesh in Christ. (10) This incorruptible Word revealed God to humanity through its role as mediator between transcendence and immanence, what James K. A. Smith, following Augustine, has called "an immanent sign of transcendence." (11)

When Erasmus first published his Greek-to-Latin New Testament in 1516, he translated John 1 with the same phrasing as the Vulgate. (12) In 1522, Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples, a French humanist, also used verbum in his Commentarii Initiatorii In Quatuor Evangelia. (13) Lefevre understood John to mean that nothing preceded the Word. Before anything began, it was. He then offered a Platonic explanation for the relationship between the divine Word and human words: the Godhead was the source of words because it was the original, perfect Word. (14) However, the Word's incarnation in the flesh brought a new, specifically Christian dimension to Platonism, as Christ, the perfect Form, lowered himself to human form in order to mediate between God and humanity, "and no Platonist could ever hold that the Forms actually condescend to participate in this world of mutable particulars." (15) The transmission of John's testimony through written text rather than oral tradition imitated what the Divine Word had done, as human words took on flesh of their own. Because of this flesh, so to speak, the written word persisted in a way that the oral word could not and thus was privileged.

Erasmus's 1516 New Testament, though important, was not his original translation but a modified, "somewhat more conservative version." (16) When he published the second edition in 1519, he used the text of his original translation instead of the 1516 text. In John 1 he rejected verbum and replaced it with sermo (speech), so that the Gospel began: In principio erat sermo, et sermo erat apud deum, et deus erat file sermo. (17) The change discarded the Augustinian tradition of verbum in favor of Tertullian, who also used sermo, and altered the reading of John 1. (18) Whereas the incarnation of verbum, the Word given flesh, was closely related to John's written testimony and the origin of the Gospels, sermo had no such connotation. It echoed God's creation of the world in Genesis rather than Christ's redemption of humanity in the Gospels. In defense of his translation, Erasmus wrote, "There are some who, while they think themselves very learned men, are hardly aware that John did not write in Latin." (19) True enough, but this was an inadequate apology for his choice of words. More compelling was Thomas More's defense of sermo. More argued that words do not necessarily have a one-to-one correlation from language to language and there may be a range of possibilities in translation. In this particular case, neither verbum nor sermo has the full range of meaning that the original Greek Logos has. Therefore, either is acceptable. (20) In spite of Mores argument, many still criticized Erasmus's translation. (21)

When the Council of Trent convened in 1545 to reform Catholicism, its fourth session took up the issue of biblical translation as a serious disciplinary, though not dogmatic or doctrinal, abuse in the Church. (22) Andreas de Vega, a Spanish Franciscan present at the session, condemned the "confusion" that had arisen from the proliferation of Latin translations. (23) Concerned about the purity of the Gospel in the midst of so many translations, the Council decreed in 1546 that the Vulgate would be the authoritative Bible for the Church. Innovative Latin translations were expressly prohibited for use in public. Anyone who did not receive the Scriptures "as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition" would be anathema. (24) Where the Council remained otherwise silent was on the issue of vernacular translation. It did not mention the subject in its decree because the clerics at Trent could not reach a compromise on the issue. (25) Vega, citing the early church's translation of Scripture into Latin, argued that those who pour [transfuderit] sacred letters from their original languages into foreign tongues do so through the work of the Spirit. When people translate, the Spirit can suggest new words and meanings to them, but unless it does, words have fixed and suitable designations. (26) Vega thus offered Christians another method of translation (the influence of the Holy Spirit), albeit a more mysterious one than Mores philological approach. (27)

Several decades after Trent the papacy established a commission to prepare an official, critical edition of the Vulgate based on the best manuscripts available and showing the differences between them. This edition was intended to standardize biblical reading and reception. However, the commission, which included Roberto Bellarmino, then Spiritual Father to the Roman College, was unable to finish its task because Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-90) intervened and had the book rushed into production in 1590. (28) Catholic scholars criticized the "Sixtine" Vulgate for its linguistic inadequacies. When Sixtus died, Bellarmino urged Popes Gregory XIV (r. 1590-91) and Clement VIII (r. 1592-1605) to continue scholarly revision of a critical edition. This work, published in 1592, remained the authoritative Catholic Bible well into the twentieth century (29) and officially confirmed the nature of words for the Church: the verbum, not speech, would continue to sanctify words. Augustine's treatment of words and signs and Aquinas's interpretation of John 1 remained authoritative. (30)

By privileging the Vulgate and its verbum, Trent settled the general meaning of and systematic approach to translation in favor of the Johannine/ Augustinian tradition, though the specific language of translation remained a topic of debate. In the final years of the Council and immediately after it ended (1563), the Congregation of the Holy Office of the Roman Inquisition prohibited translation of the Bible into any language. Nonetheless, vernacular Bibles appeared in Venetian presses until at least 1567, (31) after which they were printed in Lyon, Geneva, and other cities and sold in Italy on the black market. (32) With the creation of the Congregation of the Index in 1572, debate about translation into the vernacular reappeared. The Holy Office advocated a restrictive approach to translation while the Congregation of the Index was willing to allow local authorities (bishops) some latitude in accepting the printing or ownership of vernacular Bibles. (33) In 1596 Clement VIII returned the Church to restrictive regulation, requiring bishops to seek permission from the pope or the Holy Office for vernacular translations of the Bible. (34) Nonetheless, debate continued well into the seventeenth century. (35) Some, such as the Jesuits, had long criticized what they saw as the Church's excessive prohibition on vernacular translation. (36) The Jesuits frequently translated nonbiblical texts from Latin into Spanish, French, and other languages as part of their missionary work throughout Europe and, in general, the Church accepted their translations. (37)

Although Trent's translation decrees addressed the translation of Scripture into Latin, not the vernacular, they established a general translation culture for Catholic Europe. This culture was governed by a Christian Platonic understanding of words, in which the incorruptible Word was the source of being for all others. Because of the metaphysical relationship between the Word and words, one needed to be precise when translating and maintain the integrity of words and the meaning they convey, though one did not necessarily need to offer a word-for-word translation. Jerome (347-420), the editor/translator of the Vulgate, had argued as much when he wrote, "I render not word for word, but according to the sense" (non verbum e verbo, sed sensum exprimere de sensu). (38)

Sarpi fit comfortably in this translation culture. His interdict writings show that, for Sarpi, words had clear and set meanings; when one uses them, one must be precise in one's choice of words and construction of phrases and sentences. Even the slightest addition or omission can alter the meaning of a phrase, sentence, or argument. Consequently, as Jerome had recommended, a translation should stay as close to the source language and the original meaning of words and phrases as possible without necessarily offering a word-for-word translation. Sarpi, like the Jesuits, also favored vernacular translation. Both used it as part of their broader strategy to win adherents to their cause. The goal, which Daniel Russell has observed was a common one, was to appropriate the text for the needs of the target culture.39 For Sarpi, this meant choosing texts tactically and framing them with a preface that tied them to contemporary Venetian politics. It did not mean manipulating the words in translation.


In May 1606 Sarpi anonymously published Italian translations of two Latin works by Jean Gerson (1363-1429), the prominent French theologian and conciliarist, under the title Trattato e resoluzione sopra la validita delle scommuniche di Giovanni Gersone teologo e cancelliero parisino. In the fifteenth century Gerson had examined the limits of papal authority and the need for reform in the Church and concluded that plenitude of power belonged to the entire Church hierarchy. Its proper expression was found in a general council, not a papal monarchy. The Church thus had to be unified, not schismatic, to exercise its power to excommunicate, and papal legislation on excommunication required ecclesiastical consensus. (40) Gerson offered a radical ecclesiology with a rival point of view on the question of papal authority than that claimed by the papacy itself, and Sarpi's decision to translate and publish Gerson's works signaled an unwillingness to compromise on the papacy's claims. It was an aggressively confrontational response to the interdict.

Sarpi introduced the Trattato with a preface "to the pious and religious reader." In it he wrote that when he obtained copies of the texts, he wanted to translate them into Italian (in lingua italiana) and publish the Italian versions independent of the Latin originals because the issue of papal authority was as relevant to 1606 as it was to Gersons era, though Sarpi forced the equivalence somewhat by mentioning only the pope's excommunication of Venice, not the interdict. (41) According to Sarpi, "So directly and particularly do [Gerson's texts] touch all those points that are material to be touched in this question" of papal authority that many people had had to go back to the 1494 printing of Gerson's work to make sure the Italian translation had not been forged. (42) Interestingly, Sarpi's contemporaries did not need to prove the text against the original manuscript source. The 1494 printing sufficed. Stripped of their Latin and dressed in contemporary Italian, Gerson's tracts could be enlisted into the Venetian cause for a wider audience. Their emphasis on the jurisdictional power of excommunication shifted the focus of the interdict quarrel from specific Venetian laws to the inherent nature of spiritual and, by extension, temporal authority.

Bellarmino responded to Sarpi's Gerson publication with Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto, his first work published during the crisis. For Bellarmino, there was no correlation between the papacy of the early fifteenth century and that of the early seventeenth century. The former had been plagued by schism, with three popes claiming to be the true Vicar of Christ and excommunicating their rivals. By contrast, the seventeenth-century Church had only one pope, and he was indisputably the head of the body. (43) Bellarmino had a valid argument here, and Sarpi seemed unsure of a suitable response. At one point in his Apologia, his rejoinder to Bellarmino's Risposta, he wrote that Christendom was again in schism and that the best resolution to schism was a council. (44) At another point, he argued that Gerson did not write his tract during the Council of Constance (1414-18) but after. Therefore, it was not written during a time of schism but "at such time as there was but one only undoubted Pope." (45) Sarpi thus conflated the Protestant defection from Rome with schism in the papacy. However, rather than push Sarpi on his reading (or misreading) of history and contemporary circumstances, Bellarmino launched a personal attack on the translator, leaving himself exposed and vulnerable to public criticism. Bellarmino wrote that anyone, but especially Gerson's translator [l'interprete], who found common cause between Gerson and Venice was "something less than Catholic." (46) The translator, he argued, had revealed his "very poisonous intention" by equating the two eras without acknowledging any difference in context, (47) then accused the translator of hypocrisy, (48) intolerable arrogance, (49) and Lutheran sympathies with regard to conscience. (50) Further, he accused the translator of lying about the injustice of the papal excommunication, (51) but on this point the Cardinal conveniently left text out. The translator had not absolutely defined the pope's sentence as unjust, Sarpi wrote, "for in a parenthesis he has these words (which seems to me neither reasonable nor credible), which parenthesis the Author [Bellarmino] has purposely omitted." (52) While omitting text himself, Bellarmino argued that the translator had inserted errors into the text through his choice of words in translation. (53) According to Bellarmino, the translator misrepresented Gersons tripartite contempt of the papal keys, using the words "directly, indirectly, and seemingly" when he should have used the cognate "interpretively" instead of "seemingly." (54)

Bellarmino misjudged the best line of response to Sarpi. His personal, defensive, and misleading attack arose from the fact that Sarpi's Gerson translation brought the issues of council and pope, temporal and spiritual jurisdiction to the fore. With these broader political principles now under consideration, Bellarmino was compelled to take positions that were at odds with his previous writings, particularly his Controversiae (1581-82), which acknowledged that the pope had only an indirect power to intervene in civil affairs. (55) As late as 1593 he had argued that the pope's authority over temporal kingdoms was indirect, not direct; that the pope's authority over a council was open to debate; and that the freedom of the priesthood from secular jurisdiction in temporal matters was de jure humano, not divino. (56) Bellarmino conceded the inconsistencies in his political theology while declaring Sarpi's preface to Gerson "contumacious ... scandalous, and heretical." (57) He did not say so, but the inconsistencies in his own writings are likely why he abandoned close readings and cognate translations, though he failed to adopt any other translation scheme that would support the more creative use of words he needed. (58) For Bellarmino, forcing the issue of translation was a mistake, and it cost him.

Sarpi ceded no ground. The Cardinal, Sarpi wrote in his Apologia, had equivocated linguistically in order to create a coherent argument in support of papal authority. When Bellarmino wrote in opposition to Gerson on the force and validity of excommunication, he could find fault in only one of Gerson's twelve considerations. He had to accept the rest, however he strained himself, "what by limitations, what by extensions" in translation, to make a show of the contrary. (59) And strain himself he did. According to Bellarmino there were six types of individual and political liberty: "Liberty, or freedom of will, as opposed to natural necessity: Christian Liberty, as opposed to the bondage of sin: Civil liberty, as opposed to slavish bondage: liberty of a Republic, as opposed to the subjection of a King or Monarch: Liberty of an absolute Prince, which acknowledges no superior in temporal matters, as opposed to the rightful subjection of an inferior Prince, to a greater or superior: And lastly, Liberty to do evil, as opposed to the service or subjection of righteousness." (60) Bellarmino conflated the pope's liberty with that of an absolute prince while failing to include the liberty of the ecclesiastical authority, which was what Pope Paul V expressly sought to protect from Venice when he attacked its statutes on church property and its arrest of criminal clerics. (61) Sarpi could not explain why Bellarmino "makes such a flourish of six kinds of liberty, seeing it is apparent to every man, of what kind of liberty the question is now between us," that is, ecclesiastical liberty. (62) The Cardinal was also on dangerous ground, bordering on Manichean heresy, for including a liberty to do evil. God gave humans free will, and with that free will they could choose to do evil, but he did not give them liberty to do evil. That would contradict the "bondage to sin" from which Christian liberty, Bellarminos second kind of liberty, frees us. Sarpi observed that Bellarmino "might have a good meaning in [his argument]," but a good meaning "is scarse to be allowed for an excuse unto him that is so severe and rigorous a Censor of other men." (63)

Bellarmino likewise contravened Catholic doctrine with his artful rewording of the pope's briefs to Venice (25 December 1605, 25 February and 17 April 1606), which carried the address "Marino Grimano duci & reipublicae venetorum." The pope's intention was to excommunicate the Republic and, in the last brief, the Senate, which Sarpi compared to a college. But papal excommunication of a community or corporation was contrary to "the doctrine of all divines and canonists" as well as to the papal constitutions themselves. (64) Therefore, Bellarmino had to change the translation to heads (capi) of the Republic of Venetians, rather than the Republic itself. Bellarmino's

whole discourse deserves to be particularly examined, for neither are all things true that he presupposes in it, neither can that conclusion be in any sort deduced from them, that he would gather. After he has alleged the translator's words, which are these: his holiness excommunicates the republic of Venice, for refusing to subject the liberty that God hath given them, to the command or will of another: he turns them another way, saying, that the Pope excommunicates the heads of the republic. But if he will vouchsafe to look upon it, he shall find that the translator hath spoken truly, and that he hath cunningly and skillfully changed the names and persons, to excuse a notable error. (65)

If Bellarmino wanted to defend the papacy's excommunication of the Republic, he could, but not by assuming his readers' inability to discover his misleading translation, which, in any case, violated his fourth type of liberty. (66) In response, Bellarmino pleaded ignorance, claiming that he had not seen the papal briefs when he wrote his tract and therefore had not intentionally mistranslated. (67) Ignorance was a weak defense for a renowned theologian and trained inquisitor, but it was not an unusual one in the interdict crisis. (68)

Bellarmino further manipulated words in his reading of Pope Innocent III's decretal Novit tile (1204) about sin and censure, which he relied on to justify papal involvement in Venice. Rather than offering exegetical commentary on the decretal, Bellarmino enlarged its meaning in his translation. "Contrary to the meaning of Innocent, who said that to him belonged the correction of every Christian," wrote Sarpi, "our author [Bellarmino] has interpreted these words quemlibet christianum, [as] all the Princes of the world, so as now it shall belong to [the pope] to excommunicate the Turk, the King of Persia, the King of Samarcanda, the Tartar, and diverse others of whom we have yet no knowledge." Meanwhile, "private Christians," those who possessed no princely power, merited no mention in Bellarmino's translation, "as if it were sufficient to have command and rule over Princes, and an Indignity and an abasement to intermeddle with others." (69) In mistranslating the phrase as he did, Bellarmino both increased papal power to include authority over non-Christian princes and restricted it so as not to include authority over private Christians, a reading Sarpi found odd and offensive. Bellarmino responded that he did not restrict papal power in any way, but that his amplification of the power of excommunication over non-Christians was correct because Innocent III had used the word universalmente in another part of the decretal. (70) Such a reading was a stretch, but Bellarmino was trapped in a debate he could not win without a theory or method of translation to support novel readings of well-known texts.

One final point: on the title page of Sarpi's Apologia is a picture of a giant Christ standing over and pointing at a miniscule globe on which the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America are shown. Around the picture are Christ's words from John 18: Regnum meum non est de hoc mundo (My kingdom is not of this world), a clear renunciation of a temporal kingdom. The ornament was probably not bespoke for the pamphlet, but it appears to have been chosen to reinforce the textual argument. John 18 seems to have been particularly important for Sarpi, who quoted it in the eighth proposition of his Trattato dell'Interdetto della Santita di Papa Paulo V. (71) When Bellarmino first responded to this Trattato, he argued that the verse should be used in conjunction with Matthew 28:18: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Yet when he quoted Sarpi's argument that the pope, in violation of John 18, sought to seize the property of laymen, he tampered with the language. He wrote: "'This is not the [added: true] cause, but a [added: false] pretext for the separation of heretics from the Church.'" Christian princes, like heretics, use this Johannine argument '"when they go out of the way of salvation misusing their [erased: political] authority or usurping the [erased: ecclesiastical] one that is not theirs.'" (72) Rather than leave political and ecclesiastical authority separate, Bellarmino merged them so as to put all authority under papal jurisdiction. As with his other changes, these sought to increase the authority claimed by the papacy while diminishing that of the Venetian state by tampering with words, but, like them, it was at best ineffective, at worst counterproductive. The next time Bellarmino wrote about John 18, he simply omitted Sarpi's comments on the verse altogether while nonetheless attacking the proposition. (73)


Sarpi, whether in picture, practice, or theory, was a thorough disciple of John and, through John, the verbum. He compared the words Bellarmino used with those of the documents, authorities, and translators Bellarmino cited, in the process finding him wanting in consistency, honesty, and clarity. As a Catholic working in a post-Tridentine cultural context, Bellarmino would have had a difficult time establishing a theory of translation in which words were signifiers without set meanings. He could have argued that words do not always have exact meanings from one language to another, but he did not. He also seems not to have appealed to the Holy Spirit as his guide in translation. Bellarmino's failure to effectively challenge Sarpi on translation after allowing the Servite to use translation as a key point in their debate left him and the papacy he defended at a disadvantage. In the absence of a coherent theory or practice, Bellarmino resorted to invective and ad hominem attacks in his writings and inquisitorial proceedings against the Servite and contradicted both canon law and his earlier writings in print. Sarpi, for his part, adhered closely to accepted practice in Catholic Europe at the turn of the seventeenth century by maintaining the integrity of words. His response to Bellarmino's personal insults was muted. He would not, he wrote, "trouble [himself] to repel or retort any injurious speeches." (74) He seems to have kept his word, at least in print. Ultimately, Sarpi's public dismantling of Bellarmino's translations was successful. In April 1607 Pope Paul V compromised with Venice and lifted the interdict. The papacy never issued a general interdict on a sovereign state again. The great irony, of course, is that throughout the crisis Sarpi upheld the Johannine standards established by the papacy and the Council of Trent while Bellarmino did not.

Southern Connecticut State University


(1) Cecilia Cristellon and Silvana Seidel Menchi, "Religious Life," in A Companion to Venetian History, 1400-1797, ed. Eric R. Dursteler (Boston: Brill, 2013), 405-6; Federico Chabod, La Politica di Paolo Sarpi (Venice: Instituto per la Collaborazione Culturale, 1962), 49-53. All translations are mine unless otherwise noted.

(2) Marie Viallon, Paolo Sarpi: Politique et Religion en Europe (Paris: Editions Classique Gamier, 2010); Corrado Pin, ed., Ripensando Paolo Sarpi (Venice: Ateneo Veneto, 2006); David Wootton, Paolo Sarpi between Renaissance and Enlightenment (Cambridge U. Press, 1983); William Bouwsma, Venice and the Defense of Republican Liberty: Renaissance Values in the Age of the Counter-Reformation (U. of California Press, 1968).

(3) Filippo de Vivo, "Paolo Sarpi and the Uses of Information in Seventeenth-Century Venice," Media History 11.1/2 (2005): 37-51.

(4) Dennis Flynn, "Donnes Politics, 'Desperate Ambition,' and Meeting Paolo Sarpi in Venice," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 99.3 (2000): 334-55.

(5) Gaetano Cozzi, Paolo Sarpi tra Venezia e l'Europa (Turin: Einaudi, 1979).

(6) Peter Burke, "Translating Histories," in Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe, ed. Peter Burke and R. Po-chia Hsia (Cambridge U. Press, 2009), 125-41.

(7) For a different look at Sarpi's pamphlets, see Ivone Cacciavillani, Paolo Sarpi: La Guerra delle scritture del 1606 e la nascita della nuova Europa (Venice: Corbo e Fiore, 2005).

(8) Stefania Tutino, Empire of Souls: Robert Bellarmine and the Christian Commonwealth (Oxford U. Press, 2010), 93-94.

(9) The Complutense Polyglot was a product of humanists' emphasis on the study of languages and of Augustine's (354-430) argument in De doctrina Christiana (11.13.19) that it is necessary for readers to consult the original language(s) when reading a translation, since it is not uncommon for translators to err.

(10) Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros, Vetus testamenta multiplici lingua nucprimo impressum, Et imprimis Pentateuchus Hebraico Greco atq[ue] Chaldaico idiomate: adiucta vnicuiq[ue] sua latina interpretatione, vol. 5 (Complutense: Arnaldi Guilielmi de Brocario, 1514), A2v. "Denique manifestans in evangelio, quod erat ipse incorruptibilis verbi opus inchoans: solus verbum carnem factum esse."

(11) James K. A. Smith, Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation (New York: Routledge, 2002), 123.

(12) Desiderius Erasmus, Novum Instrumentum Omne (Basel: Johannes Froben, 1516), 192.

(13) Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples, Commentarii Initiatorii In Quatuor Evangelio (Meaux: Simon Colinaeus, 1522), 283v.

(14) Lefevre, Commentarii, 284v-85r. For a comparison of Erasmus's translation with Lefevres, see Guy Bedouelle, "Erasme, Lefevre d'Etaples, et la lecture de la Bible en langue vulgaire," in Lay Bibles in Europe, 1450-1800, ed. Mathijs Lamberigts and A. A. den Hollander (Leuven U. Press, 2006), 55-67.

(15) David Meconi, SJ, "The Incarnation and the Role of Participation in St. Augustine's Confessions," Augustinian Studies 29.2 (1998): 68; Smith, Speech and Theology, 125. In the Confessions (7.9.13-14), Augustine discusses both John's incarnational first chapter and "the books of the Platonists translated from Greek to Latin" [platonicorum libros ex graeca lingua in latinam versos] and concludes that there is much good to be found in the latter, but they can only take the mind so far towards Christ and no farther.

(16) Erika Rummel, Erasmus as a Translator of the Classics (U. of Toronto Press, 1985), 89-90.

(17) Desiderius Erasmus, Novum Instrumentum Omne (Basel: Johannes Froben, 1519), 189.

(18) Robert Coogan, Erasmus, Lee, and the Correction of the Vulgate: The Shaking of the Foundations (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1992), 87-88.

(19) Paul Botley, Latin Translation in the Renaissance: The Theory and Practice of Leonardo Bruni, Giannozzo Manetti, and Desiderius Erasmus (Cambridge U. Press, 2009), 116, 159-160. "Sunt enim qui cum sibi pulchre docti videantur, vix norint Joannem aliter scripsisse quam Latine." See also Desiderius Erasmus, Apologia de 'In principio erat sermo' (Basel: Johannes Froben, 1520).

(20) D. Kinney, The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More, vol. 15: In Defense of Humanism (Yale U. Press, 1986), 237-39.

(21) See Erika Rummel, Erasmus and His Catholic Critics, vol. 1 (Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1989). Other humanists who offered new Latin editions of the Bible also met disapproval. Guy Bedouelle, The Reform of Catholicism, 1480-1620, trans. James K. Farge (Toronto: Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies, 2008), 51-54.

(22) Edmund F. Sutcliffe, "The Council of Trent on the 'Authentia' of the Vulgate," Journal of Theological Studies 49.193/194 (1948): 36, 38.

(23) Andreas de Vega, De justificatione doctrina universa (Coloniae: Geruinum Calenium, 1572), 692. Sarpi seems to have admired Vega. In his History of the Council of Trent, Sarpi referred to the Franciscan as "a mediator" between those arguing that biblical translation was divinely inspired and those arguing that it was done through human knowledge. Paolo Sarpi, Historia del Concilio Tridentino (London: John Bill, 1619), 153.

(24) Acta Concilii Tridentini, Anno MDXLVI celebrati (Basel: Johannes Oporinus, 1546), f9r, g2-g4r; H. J. Schroeder, Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1941), 17-20, 296-99. "Insuper eadem sacrosancta Synodus, considerans non parum utilitatis accedere posse Ecclesiae Dei, si ex omnibus latinis editionibus, quae circumferuntur sacrorum librorum, quaenam pro authentica habenda sit, innotescat: statuit et declarat, ut haec ipsa vetus et vulgata editio, quae longo tot saeculorum usu in ipsa Ecclesia probata est, in publicis lectionibus, disputationibus, praedicationibus et expositionibus pro authentica habeatur, et ut nemo illam reiicere quovis praetextu audeat vel praesumat." / "Si quis autem libros ipsos Integros cum omnibus suis partibus, prout in Ecclesia catholica legi consueverunt, et in veteri vulgata latina editione habentur, pro sacris et canonicis non susceperit, et traditiones praedictas sciens et prudens contempserit, anathema sit." See also Sutcliffe, "The Council of Trent on the Authentia of the Vulgate," 36.

(25) For more on the Tridentine debate, see Gigliola Fragnito, La Bibbia al rogo: La censura ecclesiastica e i volgarizzamenti della Scrittura (1471-1605) (Bologna: II Mulino, 1997), 75-80; Gigliola Fragnito, Proibito Capire: La Chiesa e il volgare nella prima eta moderna (Bologna: II Mulino, 2005), 28-29.

(26) Vega, De justificatione doctrina universa, 692. "Interpretem illius, quisquis ille fuerit, sciebat non fuisse prophetam, nec nos mervisse hactenus quenquam, qui eodem in omnibus spiritu sacras literas a propria et nativa lingua in alienam linguam transfuderit. Ac proinde nec cohibuit, nec cohibere voluit studiosorum linguarum industriam, qui aliquando docent melius potuisse aliqua verti, et uno eodem que verbo vel plures nobis suggessisse spiritus sanctus sensus, vel certe alios commodiores quam e vulgate editione possent haberi."

(27) Erasmus had vigorously repudiated this method in his letter (sect. 13, 39, and 68) to Maarten Lips in 1518.

(28) Bellarmino himself fell out of favor with the pope in 1590. The first volume of his Controversiae, meant as a defense of the Church, acknowledged that the pope had only an indirect power to intervene in civil affairs. As a result, Pope Sixtus put the Controversiae on the Index of Forbidden Books. Fragnito, La Bibbia al rogo, 153-54.

(29) Bedouelle, The Reform of Catholicism, 81-83; S. L. Greenslade, ed., The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 3: The West from the Reformation to the Present Day (Cambridge U. Press, 1975), 208-10.

(30) On Aquinas's influence on Sarpi's publication strategy, see Filippo de Vivo, Information and Communication in Venice: Rethinking Early Modern Politics (Oxford U. Press, 2007), 170.

(31) Chris Coppens and Angela Nuovo, "The Illustrations of the Unpublished Giolito Bible," in Lamberigts and Hollander, Lay Bibles in Europe, 140.

(32) Fragnito, La Bibbia al rogo, 38-39.

(33) Wim Francois, "The Catholic Church and the Vernacular Bible in the Low Countries: A Paradigm Shift in the 1550s?" in Discovering the Riches of the Word: Religious Reading in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Sabrina Corbellini, Margriet Hoogvliet, and Bart Ramakers (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 265.

(34) Paul F. Grendler, The Roman Inquisition and the Venetian Press, 1540-1605 (Princeton U. Press, 2015), 262-64; Owen Chadwick, The Popes and the European Revolution (Oxford U. Press, 1981), 76.

(35) Fragnito, La Bibbia al rogo, 208-10; Fragnito, Proibito Capire, 48-72.

(36) Diego Lainez, general of the Jesuits during the later years of the Council of Trent, had, with Petrus Canisius, SJ, criticized Pope Paul IV's Index of Prohibited Books. Fragnito, Proibito Capire, 29-30.

(37) Burke, "Translating Histories," 130; Maximilian von Habsburg, Catholic and Protestant Translations of the "Imitado Christi", 1425-1650 (Burlington: Ashgate, 2011), 182-84; Bianca Lindorfer, "Aristocratic Book Consumption in the 17th Century," in Books in the Catholic World during the Early Modern Period, ed. Natalia Maillard Alvarez (Boston: Brill, 2013), 152.

(38) Karen Newman and Jane Tylus, eds., Early Modern Cultures of Translation (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), 3. It is worth noting that what modern English calls "literal translation" was called ad verbum in sixteenth-century Latin. Botley, Latin Translation in the Renaissance, 140.

(39) Daniel Russell, "Introduction: The Renaissance," in The Politics of Translation in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ed. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Luise von Flowtow, and Daniel Russell (U. of Ottawa Press, 2001), 29.

(40) G. H. M. P. Meyjes, Jean Gerson, Apostle of Unity: His Church Politics and Ecclesiology, trans. J. C. Grayson (Boston: Brill, 1999), 258-59; Francis Oakley, "Complexities of Context: Gerson, Bellarmine, Sarpi, Richer, and the Venetian Interdict of 1606-1607," Catholic Historical Review 82.3 (1996) 380-81.

(41) Paolo Sarpi, Istoria dell'Interdetto e Altri Scritti Editi ed Inediti, ed. Giovanni Gambarin (Bari: Gius. Laterza, 1940), 2:173-74. De Vivo calls Sarpi "ingenuous" on this point. Information and Communication, 204. Though Sarpi used the phrase in lingua italiana in his Gerson preface, the title page said the work was "translated from the Latin language into the vernacular with all fidelity" [nella volgare con ognifedelta]. It is not clear whether Sarpi or his printer wrote the title. When Bellarmino responded, he used the phrase in lingua volgare instead of in lingua italiana. Roberto Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto Intitolato Trattato e resolutione sopra la validita delle scommuniche di Gio: Gersone" in Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino a' due libretti (Rome: Guglielmo Faciotto, 1606), 65; Roberto Bellarmino, Risposta alie oppositioni di Fra Paolo Servita contra la scrittura de Cardinale Bellarmino (Rome: Guglielmo Facciotto, 1606), 3.

(42) Paolo Sarpi, Apologia per le oppositioni fatte daU'illustrissimo, & reuerendissmo. signor cardinale Bellarminio [sic] alii trattati, et risolutioni di Gio. Gersone sopra la validita delle scommuniche (Venice: Roberto Meietti, 1606), 2v; Paolo Sarpi, An apology, or, apologiticall answere, made by Father Paule a Venetian, of the order of Serui, unto the exceptions and obiections of Cardinall Bellarmine, against certaine treatises and resolutions of Iohn Gerson, concerning the force and validitie of excommunication (London: Printed by Nicholas Okes for William Welby, 1607), 3. I have modernized the English spelling.

(43) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 90.

(44) Sarpi, Apologia, 17; An Apology, 35.

(45) Sarpi, Apologia, 58r; An Apology, 95. For Bellarmino's response, see Risposta alie oppositioni di Fra Paolo Servita, 3.

(46) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 81. "Si dimostra poco Catholico."

(47) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 76. This is from Bellarmino's commentary on Gerson's fourth consideration. The Jesuit agrees with Gerson that a pope can violate divine law, in which case his action is invalid. But, he writes, "Tuttavia l'intentione dell'interprete puo essere moho velenosa, perche forse vuole, che le genti credano, che la scommunica, che Nostro Signore ha fulminato, sia un' abuso notorio delle Chiavi: essendo per il contrario uso legitimo, e antichissimo." For Sarpi's response to the poison accusation, see Apologia, 25r; An Apology, 50.

(48) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 65.

(49) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 70.

(50) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 74. Conscience [conscientia] was important to Sarpi. In his response to Bellarmino, he stated that he would satisfy not only his own conscience but those of all other men who read his work. Whether that included Bellarmino, he did not say. Sarpi, Apologia, 2r.

(51) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 62. "Passa l'Autore ad un'altra falsita."

(52) Sarpi, Apologia, 13v; An Apology, 27-28. "lo veramente releggendo bene le parole dell'Interprete, non veggo, che definisca la sentenza del Pontifice esser ingiusta; poiche nella sua parentesi, dice (ilche non par ragionevole, ne credibile). Laquale l'Auttore studiosamente ha tralasciato." For the original in the Gerson tract, see Sarpi, Istoria dell'Interdetto, 2:173.

(53) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 65. "Vi erano non piccolo errori."

(54) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 75. "La seconda consideratione e, che il dispregio delle chiavi puo essere in tre modi, direttamente, o indirettamente, o apparentemente. Cost dice l'interprete pocofedele; perche il Gersone non dichiara il terzo modo con la parola apparenter, ma con la parola interpretative." Gerson's Latin reads: "Uno modo directe et causaliter ... alio modo fit contemptus implicite ... tertio modo dicitur contemptus interpretative...." Joannis Gersonii, Opera Omnia, vol. 2 (Antwerp: Sumptibus Societatis, 1706), 422. For Sarpi's response, see Apologia, 23v-24r. For Bellarmino's response to Sarpi's Apologia, see Risposta alie oppositioni di Fra Paolo Servita, 31.

(55) Tutino, Empire of Souls, 93. Tutino notes that Bellarmino's manuscripts reveal just how much he agonized over refining his own arguments.

(56) Wootton, Paolo Sarpi, 51.

(57) Bellarmino, Risposta alie oppositioni di Fra Paolo Servita, 109. "... et una prefatione contumeliosa contro del Sommo Pontefice, scandalosa, et heretica."

(58) Others continued to do word-for-word analysis and response in defense of the papacy. Giovanni Antonio Bovio, a Carmelite, wrote, "Con distendervi dentro di parola in parola tutto il testo di dette consideratione diviso in molte parti, et ad una ad una rispondervi." Bovio, Risposta del P. M. Gio. Antonio Bovio da Novara Carmelitano alie considerationi del P. M. Paolo da Venetia, sopra la Censure della Santita di Papa Paolo Quinto contra la Republica di Venetia (Rome: Guglielmo Facciotto, 1606), 4.

(59) Sarpi, Apologia, 17v-18r; An Apology, 36. See also Oakley, "Complexities of Context," 383-84. Oakley, following Sarpi, criticizes Bellarmino for misreading Gerson's eighth consideration, thus reinvigorating conciliarism.

(60) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 66; Sarpi, Apologia, 3v; An Apology, 4-5. "Liberte d'arbitrio, opposta alia necessita naturale: liberte Christiana, opposta alia servitu del peccato: liberte civile, opposta alia servitu de schiavi: liberta di Republica, opposta alia soggettione d'un Monarcha: liberte di Principe assoluto, che non riconosce superiore nelle cose temporali, opposta all soggettione d'un Principe minore ad un maggiore, 8c finalmente liberte di far male, opposta alia servitu della giustitia." I use "republic" in the English translation where Bellarmino and Sarpi use Republica. The original English translation uses "common wealth" and "free state."

(61) Cristellon and Menchi, "Religious Life," in Dursteler, A Companion to Venetian History, 405.

(62) Sarpi, Apologia, 3v; An Apology, 4-5. "Non so con che consiglio l'Auttore fa un'apparato di sei liberta, essendo pur troppo noto di quale liberte si trattasse ... la liberte Ecclesiastica."

(63) Bellarmino, "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 67; Sarpi, Apologia, 12r; An Apology, 23-24.

(64) Sarpi, Apologia, 5v; An Apology, 9-10.

(65) Sarpi, Apologia, 5v; An Apology, 9. "Tutto questo discorso e degno di esser particolarmente essaminato, perche ne tutte le cose supposte in esso sono vere, 8c oltra cio da quelle ne cava una conclusion, la quale per nissun modo, si puo dedurre. Doppo haver portato le parole dell' Interprete, le quali sono queste, che la Santita sua scommunica la Republica Venetiana, perche ricusa sottomettere all'arbitrio altrui la liberte, che Dio li ha dato. Egli le rivolta, 8c dice, che scommunica li Capi delia Republica, ma se si degnara vedere, trovara, che l'Interprete ha detto bene, 8c egli artificiosamente per scusare con destrezza un fallo notabile, muta le persone." For Bellarmino's passage, see "Risposta del Cardinal Bellarmino ad un Libretto," 67, where he argues that an absolute prince (the pope) can depose the heads [capi] of the Venetian Republic for not annulling certain laws. He also mentions the excommunication of the heads of the Republic in his commentary on Gerson's seventh consideration (79).

(66) Sarpi, Apologia, 6r; An Apology, 10. "Defendasi per altra via piu tosto, che fondarsi sopra la nostra inawertenza."

(67) Bellarmino, Risposta alie oppositioni di Fra Paolo Servita, 6.

(68) Venice prohibited papal information from reaching its clergy, thus allowing them to plead ignorance. De Vivo, Information and Communication, 170.

(69) Sarpi, Apologia, 8v-9r; An Apology, 16. "Poi che contra il senso di Innocentio, il qual dice a lui toccare la correttione di qualonque Christiano, il nostro Auttore ha interpretato la parola di qualonque Christiano, di tutti li Principi del Mondo. Si che li toccara di scommunicare il Turoc, il Re de Persia, il Re di Samarcanda, il Precopense, et anco altri, di chi non si ha notitia. Ma delli privati Christiani ... l'Auttore non ha giudicato parlare, quasi, che basti dominar li Principi, e che sia indignita abbassarsi a gli altri."

(70) Bellarmino, Risposta alie oppositioni di Fra Paolo Servita, 13. "Rispondo, che io non ho ristretto il senso delia decretale, perche non ho escluso i privati ... similmente non ho ampliato il senso della decretale, perche se bene Innocenzo in un luogo dice: Quemlibet Christianum, in un'altro dice universalmente."

(71) Paolo Sarpi, Trattato dell'Interdetto delia Santita di Papa Paulo V composto da fra'paolo dell'Ordine de' Servi ad altri Theologhi di sotto nominate (Venice: Roberto Meietti, 1606), B2v.

(72) Tutino, Empire of Souls, 94; Bellarmino, Risposta alie oppositioni di Fra Paolo Servita, 78.

(73) Roberto Bellarmino, Risposta del Card. Bellarmino al trattato dei sette theologi di Venetia, sopra l'interdetto delia Santita di Nostro Signore Papa Paolo Quinto (Rome: Guglielmo Facciotto, 1606), 115-16.

(74) Sarpi, Apologia, 2r; An Apology, 1.
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Date:Jun 22, 2016
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