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Virtuelle Buchersale: Lekture und Zensur gelehrter Zeitschriften an der Romischen Kure 1665-1765.

VIRTUELLE BUCHERSALE: LEKTURE UND ZIENSUR GELEHRTER ZEITSCHRIFTEN AN DER ROMISCHEN KURE 1665-1765. By Bernward Schmidt. Romische Inquisition und Indexkongregation 14. Paderborn: Schoningh, 2009. 58 [euro].

Schmidt's study sheds light on how the Roman Curia perceived and dealt with erudite journals in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Such journals had become, in the 17th century, the most important medium of communication for the Republic of Letters. Thus knowing how Roman academics, who were at the same rime censors for the papacy, read these publications can shed light on Catholic responses to Protestantism and to the Enlightenment. S. establishes that Rome was not secluded from the Republic of Letters but participated in it, albeit in a passive way. This selective and passive reception did not develop from narrow-mindedness, however, but was due to Catholic theological presuppositions irreconcilable with Protestant thought (especially regarding the hierarchy and the sacraments). Most interestingly, the Curia chose as its censors primarily renowned scholars acquainted with the newest intellectual achievements. From the censors' reports, it becomes clear that their main task was to condemn journals that regularly published attacks on the person and office of the papacy; curiously the tackling of atheism and Socinianism was not of primary importance. Also fascinating is the reception of the Index of Forbidden Books itself: any Catholic scholar who took it seriously necessarily excluded himself from the European academic community: not surprisingly, one can detect, among more open-minded Catholic scholars, a deliberate ignorance of the Index and its decrees.

Unfortunately S. disregarded practically all important English books on the Roman inquisition and the impact of the Enlightenment in Rome (e.g., works by Hans Gross, Christopher Black, and Christopher Johns) and seems unaware of the discussion about the Enlightenment in the Anglophone world (works by Jonathan Israel and John Robertson). Despite this gap, S.'s book is an important contribution that helps us better understand the interaction between Catholic theology and Protestant and secular communication networks.


Marquette University, Milwaukee
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Title Annotation:SHORTER NOTICES
Author:Lehner, Ulrich L.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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