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Summaries of Acta Comeniana 28 (LII), 2014

Jiří Beneš

Humanist Scholars on Authority of their Latin Bible Translations

The study deals with the motives, approaches, and apologies of the leading humanist scholars in the field of translating and interpreting the Bible. Special attention is paid to the crucial figure of the Humanist Biblical tradition, Erasmus of Rotterdam. His edition of the Greek text of the New Testament and his new Latin translation of it represent the first flowering of New Testament exegesis, based on criticism and philology. No matter how conscientious his approach to the Biblical text might have been, he and his followers had to cope with the basic problem of authenticity of the text merely derived from the Holy Writ. The present paper deals with the arguments of Erasmus and his contemporaries or successors, namely Immanuel Tremellius, Santes Pagninus, Theodor Beza, Sebastian Castellio and the editors of the Zurich Bible (especially Petrus Cholinus), defending not only possibility, but also utility and benefit of new Bible translations for the renewal of spirituality and of religious thought itself. After having explored the representative achievements of their endeavors, the author comes to conclusion that the principal question for them was not "whether", but "why" and "how". They were aware of dealing with delicate matter, but in principle they did not consider it an essential obstacle. Common feature of their argumentation has been explicitly grasped by Erasmus (see motto): the Holy Spirit invites us to cooperation, he never operates alone. Given this, there was no reason to ruminate the question of authority. The "verbal inspiration of the biblical text", an important principle held later by many Protestant, was not order of the day at that times. Moreover, the theory of divine inspiration not only of the Hebrew text, but also of that of its Greek translation, was sustained as early as in the eve of Christianity by Philo of Alexandria to corroborate the authority of the Septuagint. In a certain simplification we may assume that this was the first attempt to justify translating of the Holy Scripture.

Martin Žemla

Valentin Weigel and His Interpretation of the Book of Genesis

An important part of the work of the Lutheran pastor, mystic, theosophist, and Paracelsian Valentin Weigel (1533–1588) consists of interpretations of the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis. The writings, which treat the theme systematically and in extenso, had already caught the interest of modern scholars primarily from the historical and philological perspective, oriented towards determining their disputed authorship. Even now, however, after the publication of the critical edition of Weigel's four major commentaries on Genesis in 2007, these treatises have been little examined from the point of view of their intellectual content, sources, and role in his thought. These questions are addressed in this study. It deals with not only the four systematic commentaries but also with reflections on the same topic in other texts of the author. Weigel, whose discussions in many points foreshadow the theosophy of Jacob Böhme, turns critically against Luther and Melanchthon, and he tacitly draws on earlier interpretations (Origenes, Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, Pico della Mirandola, Paracelsus). It is on the basis of the commentaries on Genesis, which Weigel himself considered as fundamentally important from the very beginnings – and, indeed, they have a crucial position within his work – that one can assess not only his natural philosophical concepts but above all the relationship of the "natural" knowledge to the mystical and religious knowledge that are inseparably conjoined in his work. Their convergence does not include empirical examination of the world but rather the correct understanding of the introductory passages of Genesis, which according to Weigel sum up the whole Bible. For Weigel, the knowledge of nature is something essentially different from how it is presented by Paracelsus – to whom Weigel otherwise refers so much. It is man who stands at the centre of Weigel's interests – more exactly man as capax Dei – and he subjects all his theosophical reflections on creation to this mystical perspective.

Jan Čížek

The Pansophia of Jan Amos Comenius with Regard to His Concept of Nature

This study deals with the concept of natura as it is presented in Comenius's Pansophia. Since Comenius's concept of nature is inseparable from his anthropological views, the paper discusses also his anthropology. Man is considered here an integral part of the material world which, however, through his immortal mind and its three infinite components surpasses the material world and rises above it. Man, especially in his limitlessness and freedom of human will, resembles God. The human individual thus becomes not only the creation of God, but the partner and collaborator of God, insofar as the process of completing the work of Creation is concerned. The outcomes of human activity are called the world of human creation, the world of morality and the world of the spirit, in which nature is brought to perfection. The final part of the study focuses on the concept of natura humana which is important in the whole Consultatio catholica, not only in the Pansophia. Despite all difficulties in interpretation, Comenius's concept of human nature can be reconstructed. According to Comenius the basis of human nature is the openness of human existence founded on the free and unrestricted will.

Andrew L. Thomas

Francis Daniel Pastorius and the Northern Protestant Transatlantic World

In 1683 Francis Daniel Pastorius became the founder of Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first German settlement in colonial North America. He and several prominent German Pietists in Frankfurt originally wanted to follow in William Penn's wake by setting up a "godly community" in America. Although it is generally recognized that the works of Jan Amos Comenius, Jacob Böhme and Johann Valentin Andreae influenced the Frankfurt Pietists, very little has been done on addressing how much impact Rosicrucianism and Behmenism had on Pastorius's late Renaissance hopes of utopian renewal and eschatological fears. Through an examination of Pastorius's commonplace book the Beehive, this paper contends that the Rosicrucian and Behmenist influences on Pastorius were critical in motivating his colonizing efforts and elucidate his perspectives dealing with alchemy, astrology, and his relationship with Swedish settlers that he encountered.

Iva Lelková

The Ebb and Flow of Blood: A Case Study on the Early Modern Analogy of Movement
of Seawaters and the Circulation of Blood in the Human Body

The study concerns a seventeenth-century analogy between the movement of seawaters and the movement of fluids in human body. The ideas of Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680) on the geocosmos, expressed in his Mundus subterraneus (1664–1665) and Iter extaticum II (1657) are compared with the work of his correspondent, the physician from Wroclaw and editor of the first medicine journal, Philipp Jacob Sachs von Lewenheimb (1627–1672), who wrote Oceanus macro-microcosmicus (1664). In this analogy Sachs took into account the latest discoveries of the Danish physician Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680) on the lymphatic system in addition to William Harvey's (1578–1657) experiments on the circulation of blood. These elements make Sachs' treatise an interesting mixture of a fundamentally analogical approach with the latest findings of natural philosophy. Both authors use the analogy between the seawaters' movement and the movement of fluids in the human body in different ways, which leads to an analysis of the Aristotelian and Platonic approaches to analogy in their works and the question of the shift from the Renaissance episteme to the modern one.

Miroslav Hanke

Peter Crockaert on Self-Reference

The Dominican philosopher and theologian Peter Crockaert, also known as Peter of Brussels (c. 1460–1514), was a former member of the nominalist circle of John Mair. Having received nominalist training from one of the prominent post-medieval scholastic logicians, he entered the Dominican order and adopted a Thomist identity. As a result, his sentential semantics combines thirteenth-century Thomist framework with late medieval logical analysis, including the complexe significabile debate and analysis of self-reference. Crockaert's analysis of self-reference displays three notable features: Crockaert 1) defi nes truth in contextualist terms; 2) lists alternative approaches to self-reference as part of analysis of contradiction; 3) attempts to relate analysis of self-reference to Aquinas's works.

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