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Summaries of Acta Comeniana 25 (XLIX), 2011

Jan Herůfek

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's Encounter with Jewish Intellectuals

The article deals with the religious and philosophical concept of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and focuses primarily on the Jewish-Arabian sources of Mirandola's thinking. Since Pico did not have a very good knowledge of Hebrew or even Arabic, it was often almost impossible for him to deal on his own with the language of extremely challenging original medieval texts, whether on themes of Jewish and Arabian philosophy or on themes of Jewish mysticism, known as Kabbalah. Pico therefore made use of his colleagues, and to some extent was reliant on them. In this connection attention has to be drawn fi rst to Elia del Medigo, adherent of Averroist Aristotelianism, and to Jochanan Alemanno, representative of the Jewish concept of ancient theology (prisca theologia) connected with elements of Neo-Platonism. In the fi nal place the article discusses Pico's principal translator Flavius Mithridates. Through his vision of the Christian Kabbalah Flavius Mithridates inspired not only the "prince of concord" himself, but also many followers in the 16th and 17th centuries (Johannes Reuchlin, Francesco Zorzi, Gilliaume Postel, Caspar Knittel, and others).

Pál Ács

Pro Turcis and contra Turcos: Curiosity, Scholarship and Spiritualism in Turkish Histories by Johannes Löwenklau (1541–1594)

It is still partially unexplained why, in 16th–17th-century Hungary – as opposed to Western countries – Ottoman history was not processed in an authentic and scholarly way. Why is it that intelligent Western reports of the Ottoman Empire and its history had no echo in Hungary, even though these reports wrote about, and were written to, Hungarians? This paper aims to answer the above questions when discussing Johannes Löwenklau, one of the most excellent 16th-century experts in the Ottomans. First we examine the three main sources used for his Ottoman Histories, all of them related to Hungary. Then we describe the intellectual background of Löwenklau's Chronicles. The two parts of the study off er two diff erent answers to the above question. (1) In the 16th century, Hungary fell apart, so it was impossible to conduct deep studies, although they would have served the country's interests. It is thus not surprising that the learned synthesis of sources of Hungarian origin was made by a German Humanist. (2) Löwenklau was a tolerant, gentle, intellectual member of the Bohemian Brethren. His books paint an alternative image of the Turks, one that does not match the commonplaces on the ancient enemy of Christianity, and one that is also distinct from the "the scourge of God" destined to revenge crimes according to the Wittenberg Reformation. A desire for universal peace clearly appeared in his works, in addition to the confrontation with the Turks and the idea of the Crusade. The ordinary Hungarian audience was averse to this combination of scholarly research and apocalypticism, so it is notsurprising that Hungarian historiography has been largely silent about this great historian of his age.

Howard Hotson

Arbor sanguinis, arbor disciplinarum: The Intellectual Genealogy of Johann Heinrich Alsted
Part I. Alsted's Intellectual Inheritance

Although by no means a genius, Comenius's teacher, Johann Heinrich Alsted (1558–1638), was in one sense a prodigy. His great Encyclopaedia of 1630 was fi rst sketched out in his Panacea 91 philosophica of 1610, when the young Herborner was only 22 years old; and in the larger Artium liberalium ac facultatum omnium systema mnemonicum, completed the previous year, its origins are traced back further still, to the outset of his studies in the Herborn academy in 1602, at the tender age of fourteen. More specifi cally, Alsted reveals that his encyclopaedic project began as a commonplace book collected in no small part from his father's table talk, his mother's precepts and practice, his grandfather's library, and the extraordinarily rich collection of pedagogical theorists in his immediate family circle. This paper traces Alsted's genealogy as a bibliographical as well as a biographical exercise: that is, as a means not merely of revealing his bloodlines, but of tracing the intellectual genealogy of an individual at once deeply rooted in the Reformed academic and clerical community of Hesse and the Wetterau and impatient to break free of established orthodoxies in pursuit of a fresh intellectual synthesis. Tracing the tangled roots of this genealogy back several generations reveals that Alsted's yearning for further reformation fed upon lengthy familial engagement with various strands of Renaissance humanism, Reformed theology, Ramist pedagogy, Paracelsian medicine, and perhaps even millenarianism.

Pierre-Olivier Léchot

Between Ramism, Socinianism and Enthusiasm: The Intellectual Context of John Dury's Analysis Demonstrativa Sacrae Scripturae

This article explores the issue around the confessional and intellectual implications of the hermeneutics of John Dury (c. 1600–1680). It is mainly devoted to recovering the elements of Dury's "methodus analytica" and to examining its intellectual context (namely the infl uence of Ramism on the exegetical commentary of Scripture). This contribution tries also to describe the paradoxical endeavour to off er an exegetical method capable of uniting diverse confessions which could be accepted by the Socinians and by enthusiasts alike.

Jiří Just

New reports about Jan Amos Comenius in the Archive of Matouš Konečný

Not many reports have survived which capture the pre-exile activity of Jan Amos Comenius, and his personal life in particular. A signifi cant number of them consist of brief retrospective communications preserved in some of Comenius's literary works and in his correspondence. The actual sources from the pre-White Mountain period make possible only a rough reconstruction of the basic milestones in his life, often only hypothetical (the question of his birthplace can be mentioned as an example). Somewhat more light is shed on this period by material from the Archive of Matouš Konečný, discovered in Mladá Boleslav in the summer of 2006. Included in it are letters from Jan Lanecký († 1626) to the Bishop of Mladá Boleslav, who was, between 1609–1620/1622, Matouš Konečný. As Bishop of the Přerov diocese, Lanecký was Comenius's immediate superior and at the same time his closest guide on the path to his priestly profession. An indivisible part of this process was the, at least partial, absolving of the theological study for which the novices of the Brethren's priesthood were sent to educational institutions abroad. Lanecký's letters supplement in interesting details the background to Comenius's stay in Herborn and Heidelberg, starting with the late departure of the Brethren students from Moravia and Bohemia because of the invasion of the Passau soldiers (1611). The letters capture in a very rounded way the chronic problems the students had with the fi nancial demands of the study, culminating in the indebtedness of several individuals, which became a heavy burden to them after their return to their native land. The letters also document the tension arising from the diff ering ideas of the students and the bishops about the content of the study itself, and its form. They provide valuable evidence for the motives of Comenius's journeys and his pleasure in the travel the students enjoyed in their free time. A number of new pieces of information relate to Comenius's activity in Moravia after 1614. Especially valuable are reports about Comenius's ordination as a deacon, which took place on 2 February 1616 in Prague, as well as Lanecký's communications about Comenius's literary beginnings: for example, clarifi cation about the authorship of the work Retuňk proti Antikristu [Warnings Against the Antichrist], and the reaction of the Brethren bishops to the origin of the work Theatrum universitatis rerum. Among the interesting matters which the new information about Comenius opportunely supplements are reports of two letters from the Ivančice Bishop Jiří Erast (from 1616 and 1618). They are evidence of a Brethren priest called Komenský, who was working in the Ivančice diocese in the time before the Uprising of the Bohemian Estates broke out. However, we know nothing more about his life or possible relationship to Jan Amos Comenius.

Mirjam de Baar

The Construction of a Spiritual Network: The Correspondence of Antoinette Bourignon (1616–1680)

This article focuses on the epistolary practice and strategies of Antoinette Bourignon (1616– 1680), a seventeenth-century Flemish mystic and prophetess, who was born in Lille and who moved to Amsterdam in 1667. From her base in Amsterdam (where she purchased her own press in 1669), Bourignon used a variety of textual media to disseminate the message that she was a spiritual leader chosen by God to restore true Christianity on earth, and to consolidate a following around this ecumenical identity. The author argues that Bourignon's letters were central to this programme; over 600 manuscript versions survive, eleven diff erent printed editions appeared during her lifetime, while nine further volumes were subsequently published posthumously. Her correspondents included scholars such as Jan Amos Comenius (1592–1670), Robert Boyle (1627–1691), Jan Swammerdam (1637–1680), and Pierre Poiret (1646–1719), as well as a wide range of socially diverse disciples who wrote to her seeking advice on a variety of spiritual and personal issues, and whose preoccupations and voices are anonymously reproduced in published responses. In consequence, her letters have a dialogic, polyphonous quality, while the same followers who wrote to her seeking guidance in turn represented an important market for the letters in their printed manifestations. Despite her failure to establish a long-term community on the island of Nordstrand, and the fact that in the later years of her life the suspicions of Lutheran clergy forced her into exile in Ostfriesland, Bourignon maintained a prolifi c output of letters, and continued to combine the roles of spiritual leader and publisher until her death in 1680.

Marie Ryantová

The Convert and Exile Jiří Holík and His Anti-Catholic Writings

The paper deals with the life and activities of Jiří František Holík, who came from a non-Roman Catholic Bohemian family. His education was nevertheless entrusted to the Jesuits and he eventually became a member of the Dominican Order, where he worked as a censor. In 1666 he escaped to Zittau, after which he tried to work as a Lutheran preacher, studied in Wittenberg and was granted the favour of Protestant theologians and nobility. His activity as a preacher and his eff orts to acquire a position was however unsuccessful, coming up against mistrust regarding his past. He therefore left for Prussian Königsberg and eventually settled in Riga, where he became known mainly as the author of books on fruit growing which were reprinted a number of times over the next fi fty years. However, while working in Saxony he also published several strongly anti-Catholic oriented works in German about the persecution of non-Catholics in Bohemia, and one in Swedish published in Uppsala. The last of these polemical works came out in 1679 in Amsterdam. The paper summarises all previously known information about these writings, which today survive only in single copies, and serves as an introduction to further detailed examination. It is clear that all the works are similar and moreover derive from Comenius' Historie o těžkých protivenstvích (The History of the Bohemian Persecution), in some cases appropriating not only information but even entire passages. In spite of the fact that Jiří Holík's anti-Catholic writings defi nitely do not qualify as impartial documentation of the situation after the Battle of the White Mountain and developments in Bohemia, they present unusually interesting evidence concerning the intellectual world of an exile and convert trying to fi nd a role and some support for himself in his new situation.

Martina Lisá

Homo migrans in the Early Modern Period: Exiles from the Bohemian Lands and the Recent German Research into Migrations and Exile

The aim of this article is to present the results of the most recent German, i.e. German-language, research on the theme of Early Modern Period exile and migration, in which emphasis is placed on the Bohemian post-White Mountain exile. Specialist literature on the theme of the Bohemian post-White Mountain exile is discussed at the beginning of the study, with a short excursus on the concept itself of "exile", in which a concise overview of the state of research is submitted with the aim of drawing attention chiefl y to various instrumentalisations of this concept, as well as to the "success" of the whole research paradigm. Three dissertations have appeared very recently, devoting themselves in particular to the issue of Early Modern exile. A number of papers have also been published in specialist journals and conference proceedings. The study presents in addition the results and tendencies of research which deal on a more general level with themes of Early Modern Period denominational migration and religiously motivated exile. In recent years, research into the Early Modern Period has brought not only new approaches, concepts and methods, but also thematic expansion and several discussions devoted to terminology.

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