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Infant Milk or Hardy Nourishment?
The Bible for Lay People and Theologians in the Early Modern Period


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Editors:  François W., den Hollander A.A.
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Year: 2009
ISBN: 978-90-429-2144-3
Pages: XVIII-488 p.
Price: 80 EURO


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Summary:
The Pauline expressions "infant milk" and "hardy nourishment" or "solid food" (cf. 1 Cor 3,2 and Heb 5,12-14) have frequently been used by the Church fathers, medieval preachers and early modern writers, to voice the contrasting opinions that the words of Scripture are either simple to understand for the uneducated laity, or only discernable for professional theologians. Hence, the present volume considers the place of the Scriptures in both lay spirituality and in theological thinking. It includes a wide range of articles, dealing with vernacular Bible translations intended for common people, visual Bible culture, Bible commentaries written by theologically and philologically skilled scholars, and other related topics. The essays have been arranged in a chronological order, and divided into three sections, the first part considering the period from 1450 to 1520. This period begins when the mediaeval production of Bible translations is at a peak, and when another readership, other than the clergy, has increasingly found its way to the Bible. The printing press, which makes an appearance at the time, provides an immediate response to this growing demand. During the same period, also in the north, we see the gradual rise of humanism, which for figures such as Erasmus and Lefèvre d'Étaples, also entailed a great interest in the Bible sources (ad fontes). In 1519 Erasmus published his Novum Testamentum (a revised version of his 1516 Novum Instrumentum), providing from 1520 the basis for various vernacular Bible publications. His Paraphrases on diverse books of the New Testament also appealed to a broad reading public. The effects of this Biblical humanism provide the point of departure for the second part of this book. During the same decennia, through the influence of the Reformation and its sola scriptura principle, new translations became available. The response to this new Bible élan in Catholic circles was varied, from an absolute prohibition of Bible translation in the vernacular, to a cautious integration of a Biblical spirituality in teaching and preaching. The different contributions demonstrate how the religious diversity and plurality continues to expand in this period, with each group increasingly accentuating its own confessional identity. The way in which the Bible is dealt with reflects this process. In the seventeenth century, on which the third section of this book focuses, this evolution is pursued further. From the middle of this century however, an evolution takes place, with a growing number of exegetes taking a critical, scholarly attitude to the Bible, a development that is in an obvious relationship with the growing contemporary phenomenon of secularisation and rationalism. The present book will serve as a valuable companion to Lay Bibles in Europe 1450-1800 (eds. August den Hollander and Mathijs Lamberigts), the proceedings of the 2004 Amsterdam Conference with the same title, which has been published as volume 198 of the BETL-series.


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